We ocean lovers frequently witness the harm that plastic waste in the water does, so it seems only fair that we reduce it.
The majority of traditional swimwear is made of plastic in some way, and we've all had that awful bikini that wears out after only one summer and ends up in the trash.
Fortunately, there is a growing number of brands of eco-friendly swimwear. But now we're faced with a new challenge: how can we pick the best one for scuba diving?
The ultimate guide to selecting eco-friendly swimwear for scuba divers and ocean lovers has been put together by us. It covers everything from what fabrics to look for to how to tell whether the brand you choose is truly eco-friendly or is just trying to fool you. We've also shared our favourite brands for the best eco-friendly bikinis, swimsuits, and bodysuits.
Remember that your current swimsuit is the most environmentally friendly option, but if you need to update your collection of scuba swimwear, keep reading for advice on selecting the best decision!
What Fabrics Are Used for Sustainable Swimwear?
Many people don't consider the fabric used in swimwear, yet it has a significant impact on the environment.
What are some eco-friendly swimwear materials? There are so many alternatives available! Let's examine what they are and the reasons why they might be superior to others.
Econyl is the most popular sustainable swimsuit material. Waste from landfills and the ocean is gathered for this fabric in order to transform it back into usable cloth.
Why not turn the approximately 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear that enters our waters each year into swimwear?
It's a technique for eliminating waste and recycling plastic pollution. Please be aware that it's not merely constructed out of used garments and fishing nets.
This fabric still qualifies as "plastic," therefore we must be extremely cautious in how we handle it.
Even if it is constructed of recycled materials, which is a major bonus, that doesn't guarantee that it is perfect.
When this cloth is laundered, for example, microfibers may still escape. Make care you hand wash your Econyl or recycled polyester bathing suit.
With each wash, this type of material not only releases microplastics into the water, but it also wastes resources.
Thankfully, there are a number of cutting-edge, eco-friendly swim textiles available.
Nylon that has been recycled from pre- and post-consumer items is one of the greatest eco-friendly materials, and it is called ECONYL.
In a regeneration and purification process, waste materials including fishing nets, fabric remnants, and carpet flooring are used to create ECONYL.
The nylon is then treated and made into brand-new swimwear items.
Amni Soul Eco
A biodegradable polyamide was developed by Solvay, a Belgian corporation, to enable bacteria to access and digest waste products more quickly.
In contrast to other fibres, Amni Soul Eco decomposes over the course of around 5 years.
Amni Soul Eco is a true innovation in the field of ethical and environmentally conscious swimwear.
Amni Soul Eco has developed a biodegradable yarn product, in contrast to other fabrics described here that emphasise reusing previously used materials.
When used, this yarn is just as durable as ordinary yarns and will entirely disintegrate into organic matter in 5 years.
What a fantastic sustainable swimsuit choice!
This fabric, like other biodegradable goods, decomposes in landfills into organic matter (biomass) and biogas, which can both be utilised to generate electricity and exploited as new environmental resources.
Lenzing, one of the most environmentally friendly fabric producers and the creator of Tencel, also uses this fabric to make cutting-edge textiles.
The second fabric to be highlighted is Vita PL, which is produced by the same company that made ECONYL.
It's interesting to note that Vita PL is created entirely from recycled pre- and post-consumer polyester.
This eco-friendly swimwear fabric alternative comes in a variety of gorgeous colours and is ideal for transfer printing. Vita PL is also perfect for making swimwear (or even activewear) that is resistant to substances like chlorine and sunscreen creams.
Plastic bottles that have been recycled are used to make Repreve's fibre. To ensure the recycled content in their fabrics, they developed a tracing system that validates recycled content claims.
Recycled polyester is probably already recognisable to you if you've ever bought something that said it was produced from recycled bottles.
Instead of ending up in the garbage, polyester is cleaned, disintegrated into tiny "flakes," melted into pellets, moulded into yarn, and then woven into textiles. A popular brand of recycled polyester is called REPREVE.
Repreve is manufactured by Unifi, a multinational textile solutions provider that has recycled over 20 billion bottles as of this writing.
Swimwear composed of cotton and hemp may conjure up images of hippy attire. But this most definitely isn't the case any longer.
One of the most eco-friendly natural materials is hemp.
Hemp is a plant that grows without pesticides, nourishes the soil, and purges CO2 from the air. Additionally, hemp fabric is UV resistant, extremely durable, and anti-microbial.
This indicates that there aren't any harmful chemicals present in the fabric, which some businesses utilise to produce synthetic materials anti-microbial, UV resistant, and chlorine resistant.
You may have heard about Yulex, a new material that is gaining popularity in eco-friendly wetsuits.
Know what neoprene is? Even when surfing, it looks quite nice and comfortable, but it's not eco-friendly.
Yulex first entered the market a few years ago.
This is a novel plant-based and environmentally friendly substitute for limestone or synthetic neoprene. It is made of a lightweight, extremely elastic, neoprene-free material that is soft and supple.
The Forest Stewardship Council® certification provided by the Rainforest Alliance is used to identify the sources of the natural rubber. Neoprene is created in factories, whereas natural rubber is made by hevea trees, which continuously absorb carbon, lowering CO2 emissions by up to 80%.
Deforestation could be a problem for this fabric, so it's critical to source responsibly from the beginning.
Although scuba-specific swimwear designers aren't yet taking full advantage of this, we believe they will as long as supportive, neoprene-style swimsuit trends persist.
Selecting a natural fibre over a recycled man-made one for swimwear is arguably the best choice for the environment (read on to learn why).
Cotton and hemp are being cleverly repurposed by some swimwear manufacturers to make them more flexible and suitable for use underwater.
However, these natural textiles frequently require the addition of elastane to make them flexible because they have a tendency to absorb water and sag or lose shape over time (i.e. plastic).
Finding something that will be durable and cause the least amount of environmental harm when it is produced is a tricky balance when it comes to sustainability.
How to Care for Recycled Swimwear?
One thing to keep in mind is that all of the above listed recycled materials will still shed extremely harmful microplastics, leading some individuals to contest the notion that recycled swimwear is healthy for the environment.
There are techniques to better care for recycled swimwear so that it sheds less microplastics, making it the lesser of two evils compared to goods created from virgin man-made textiles.
Bonus: By extending its lifespan, this makes it more sustainable in the long run.
The majority of microfibre pollution happens during the washing process, when fibres are soaking into water that has been stirred.
Unfortunately, a lot of us wash our clothes way too regularly, so unless swimwear is extremely dirty, it usually doesn't require a trip to the washer after every use.
Wash as little as possible by hand, and if you must use a machine, wash it gently at a low temperature.
Use as little detergent as possible, and stay away from fabric softeners, which over time reduce the effectiveness of materials.
You can use a guppy bag in your washing machine to keep the microfibres contained and keep them from washing into our rivers.
When not in use, such as when drying, keep your swimsuit as far away from direct sunlight as you can, and stay away from chemical sunscreens because they can damage materials.
If you follow these suggestions, your recycled swimwear should last as long as possible, and the longer you own it, the more sustainable it becomes!
How to Avoid Greenwashing in Sustainable Swimwear?
A truly sustainable product goes beyond the physical product and encompasses the guiding principles of the company.
Even though some businesses may use the word "sustainable" as a cool, politically correct buzzword, in practise their eco-credentials are everything from brilliant.
It's easier than you might imagine to be duped by the fraud known as "greenwashing," which refers to this practise.
When picking sustainable brands, these dos and don'ts should point you in the correct way.
Although the price is typically more, you'll be aware that you've chosen products of superior quality that will benefit the environment and last longer, reducing your overall consumption.
The Future of Sustainable Swimwear Fabric
Every fabric made from plastic, including nylon and polyester, releases harmful microplastics into the water.
Not good! But hold onto hope—both customers and designers can influence change!
Since the future of sustainable fabrics is uncertain, it's critical to continually look for fresh possibilities.
Believe it or not, cutting-edge research being conducted in labs all around the world will lead to progress.
For instance, new breakthroughs in the production of bio-nylon from plant oils are currently taking place.
This product will be the first 100% sustainable swimwear fabric available when it is finished and ready to be released!
Of course, it'll be a while yet. But when it is, it will revolutionise the market for eco-friendly swimwear textiles.
FAQs About Sustainable Swimwear Fabric
What Is a Sustainable Bathing Suit?
Synthetic materials are advantageous in bathing suits since they dry considerably more quickly and don't hold as much water.
It is important to opt for high-quality swimwear created from recycled materials so that no new resources were utilised in its production for more environmentally friendly swimsuits.
For instance, used plastic from items like bottles and fishing nets can be turned into something useful.
Is Polyester a Sustainable Fabric?
Recycled polyester, often known as rPET, is made by respinning old polyester fibre into new polyester fibre after current plastic has been melted down.
Polyethylene terephthalate can actually be recycled from post-industrial and post-consumer input materials, despite the fact that rPET manufactured from consumer-discarded plastic bottles and containers receives a lot of attention.
However, as an illustration, five Coke bottles produce enough fibre for a single extra-large T-shirt.
Although it may seem like an obvious good idea to recycle plastic, not everyone in the sustainable fashion community agrees.
When produced, used, and disposed of, polyester generally has a major negative impact on the environment.
From a consumer care perspective, polyester has, however, frequently been regarded as more sustainable because to the extended lifespan and low water, energy, and heat requirements of polyester clothing.
How Do I Keep Chlorine from Damaging My Swimsuit?
Chlorine from swimming pools and spas can remove the vibrant colours, damage the elasticity, and cause items to not look exactly as they did when you first got them.
Suits are typically constructed of flexible fabrics like spandex, which can react negatively with hot tub chemicals or the heat of the sun. This is one of the main causes of damage.
Additionally, they are sensitive to heat and harsh chemicals due to the fabric that allows them to stick to your body just perfectly.
So, here are some pointers for maintaining the new look of your favourite bathing suit:
Pretreat Your Bathing Suit
A new swimsuit should be treated in a water and vinegar solution to seal in the colours before being worn for the first time.
Allow your swimsuit to soak in a mixture of 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar and a quart of cool water for 20 to 30 minutes. The cold water will aid in the vinegar's penetration of the fabric and colour sealing.
Shower Before Swimming
When they are first wet, fabrics absorb and retain the most water. Shower in your swimsuit before entering the hot tub or pool, and make sure it is completely saturated.
By doing this, you can ensure that the fabric only absorbs clean water and avoid having it absorb too much chlorine.
Bad for swimwear is hot water. Avoid frequent hot tub dips in your favourite bathing suit and never wash it in hot water.
A daily hot tub? Make your cheapest suit the one you save only for the hot tub!
Rinse the Bathing Suit in Cold Water
Rinse your suit right away to get rid of as much chlorine or salt spray as you can, whether you're at a pool or a beach.
Even after using sunscreen, suits should be rinsed since the oils from the body might harm them.
Gently Wash the Suit by Hand Washing
All the fragile sections are agitated by machines (like the cups, padding, ties, etc.). All of this movement has the potential to stretch, bunch, or otherwise impair a delicate suit.
When you return home, wash your suit right away. Clean, ice-cold water should be added to a sink basin. Warm or hot water opens up the fabric's fibres, hastening the fading process. Put your swimsuit in the water and add a delicates-specific detergent.
Normal laundry detergent is too abrasive. Rub the fabric together after gently submerging the swimsuit in water.
Thoroughly Rinse the Swimsuit
After the sink's water has been drained:
- Rinse your bathing suit under a cold water faucet.
- Rinse till there is no longer any detergent traces and the water is clean.
- To ensure complete rinsing of a two-piece swimsuit, rinse each piece individually.
If not rinsed well, even mild detergents can harm the cloth.
Let Your Suit Drip-Dry
Your swimwear should not be dried in the dryer. To hasten drying, open a window or put on a fan. Before hanging your bathing suit to dry, carefully push out any excess moisture if it has moulded bra cups that tend to absorb a lot of water.
However, resist the impulse to squeeze out every last drop of water.
By doing this, you risk causing damage and having your suit sag inappropriately.
A swimsuit can also be stretched out by being hung up, particularly by the ties. Instead, spread the swimsuit out on a towel, twist it up, and gently squeeze before setting the towel out to dry.
Avoid drying it outside since the colour may fade. Always fully dry the suit before storing it.
Since spandex is a "memory fabric," it requires a full day to return to its original position.
Therefore, it's imperative to have more than one bathing suit if you frequently wear them or are on vacation so that each one has time to recover (not to mention the time to wash and dry it completely).