What Are Sustainable Swimsuits Made Of?

Nowadays, "sustainable swimwear" firms are proliferating like weeds.

These companies frequently make an attempt to use sustainable resources and ethical production practises.

Econyl is currently the most popular and widely used material in sustainable swimwear.

However, there are fresh inventions and environmentally friendly substitutes that you have to be aware of.

The fashion business is producing more items than we can keep up with because trends and styles are changing all the time.

Swimwear has two key issues: how much there is of it and what materials it is constructed of.

Swimwear is a summer need, but the typical bikini is also one of the worst offenders when it comes to chemical pollution, making sustainable swimwear one of the most popular fashion terms worldwide right now.

The majority of swimwear you'll find on the high street is manufactured from petrochemical-derived synthetic fibres. This implies that a swimsuit or set of swim shorts has a substantial carbon footprint.

Swimwear is not an exception to the current fast fashion and trend-based garment production issues.

Swimwear has traditionally been made of materials like nylon and polyester. Although traditional materials still function effectively, as consumer habits change, more people are researching sustainable fabric alternatives.

A wide range of fantastic sustainable swimwear materials have lately entered the market.

In addition to the tonnes of unsold clothing that accumulate in people's closets, Wrap UK estimates that 350,000 tonnes of used (but wearable) clothing go straight to a landfill in the UK each year.

Although traditional swimwear includes textiles, our cheeky tiny bikinis are primarily made of plastic.

Because they are able to wick away moisture, stretch readily, and enable relatively inexpensive production, fabrics like nylon, polyester, and Lycra are frequently used by traditional swimwear manufacturers.

But as we all know, plastic can only break down; it has no other option.

Only 10% of the 65 tonnes of plastic materials that are produced year are recycled, according to estimates.

Where does the remaining material go if it cannot decompose? Sadly, it goes right into the oceans, landfills, and even our food chain.

So, what's the deal with regular swimwear?

The majority of conventional swimwear is produced from synthetic materials derived from petroleum, such as nylon, spandex, and polyester.

This is a problem for a number of reasons. The first is that because these materials don't decompose, they wind up in landfills or pollute the environment for hundreds of years.

The second factor is that these substances are lost and decompose into tiny plastic particles that wash up in the ocean and enter the food chain.

Oil has a significant carbon footprint during both its extraction and manufacturing of fibre, making it another natural resource that is quickly running out.

What is sustainable swimwear?

All of the firms that produce ethical swimwear agree that the secret to making it is ensuring that it not only looks wonderful but is also made with care and truly lasts.

They accomplish this by obtaining various natural resources or recycling plastics that are already present in the world (of which there are around 8 billion tonnes on the planet).

One-tenth of the estimated 1.4 billion tonnes of rubbish that enters our oceans each year is thought to be fishing nets that have been abandoned. Plastic makes up a large portion of this waste.

Numerous of these ethical swimwear companies use ocean plastic as their primary (or even only!) component.

The polymers are processed, cleaned, and broken down into flakes that may be used to make ECONYL thread, which is really softer and more stable than Lycra.

Normal production then follows.

But these brands are admirable for other reasons as well.

They take special care to create durable items because the longer you have your new suit, the less of it will wind up in a landfill.

They use design to create timeless products that won't date after just one season, in addition to minimising and (doing their best to) reverse plastic waste.

Unlike conventional swimwear, sustainable swimwear is produced in a safe environment by workers who are paid fairly.

Many sustainable swimwear manufacturers work hard to give back to charity and local communities. It's frequently made from recycled fibres and uses circular or zero waste procedures.

For instance, Riz Boardshorts creates boardshorts from recycled and recyclable materials, fusing traditional tailoring with a contemporary, fresh look and eco-friendly inks.

The company also invented its own recycling scheme and now offers to recycle your old Riz trunks in exchange for a discount on a new pair.

The sustainable swimwear company Aima Dora is headquartered on an island in the Indian Ocean. Being a sustainable brand entails having concern for both nature and humans. Alma Stanonik, the company's founder, says.

"We design and make swimwear with that in mind, minimising any unfavourable effects on the environment.

Living on an island allows us to see our responsibilities to the environment on a daily basis.

101 Sustainable Swimwear Materials

Customers are making fashion decisions that reflect their growing awareness of their individual ecological footprint.

As a result, slow, sustainable fashion is in while quick fashion is out.

This is especially valid in the case of sustainable bikinis, swimming suits, and swimwear!

The phrase "ethical swimwear" wouldn't have even crossed anyone's minds years ago...

Are you serious? Imagining that recycled nylon or plastic could one day be used to create garments... Take off from here!

Thankfully, that has all changed thanks to technology and environmentally conscious fashion buyers and designers.

Sustainable Swimwear Materials

ECONYL, which converts used nylon into new nylon, and REPREVE, which turns recycled plastic bottles into new polyester, both produce two recycled swimwear fabrics.

Even though the materials won't ever biodegrade, they can nevertheless be recycled endlessly.

Nylon that has been recycled
A material called ECONYL is created by recycling garbage from landfills and the oceans, including used fishing nets, fabric remnants, carpeting, and industrial plastic.

This synthetic plastic waste is recycled into nylon fabric, which is then utilised to create new items like swimwear and athletic apparel. Leading nylon manufacturer Aquafil creates ECONYL.

Regenerated nylon, the material used to make this fabric, is created from waste materials like fishing nets, carpeting, industrial plastic, and fabric remnants.

Let's begin with Econyl, which is, in my opinion, the most well-known sustainable swimsuit fabric.

To create a piece of useful fabric for this cloth, waste is gathered from landfills and the ocean.

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.

A form of recycled nylon called ECONYL is created from trash dumped in landfills and the ocean. Regeneration, a technique that goes beyond standard recycling, guarantees that the new fabric has the same properties as virgin raw nylon, giving ECONYL the ability to be endlessly recycled and transformed into new goods.

For every 10,000 tonnes of ECONYL material produced, it prevents the usage of 70,000 barrels of crude oil and 57,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

We need to be really careful with how we handle this cloth because it is still technically "plastic." Additionally, just because something is made of recycled materials, which is excellent, doesn't necessarily mean it is perfect.

When this cloth is laundered, for example, microfibers may still escape. So be sure to hand wash your Econyl or recycled polyester swimwear.

On Good On You, you may read more about how environmentally friendly Econyl is.

Behind the scenes, a closed-loop regeneration process is used to create ECONYL.

The initial phase is to remove rubbish from landfills and oceans around the world, including those in the United States, Canada, Greece, Egypt, Thailand, and Norway. ECONYL especially searches for nylon-containing products, such as worn-out clothing, old carpets, and abandoned fishing nets.

In a trash treatment facility in Slovenia, the nylon that was in those objects is then sorted, cleaned, shredded, compacted, and stored. Then, the nylon is moved to the ECONYL regeneration facility.

The six molecules of nylon are unzipped and brought back to their monomer state in the following procedure, which is referred to as ECONYL Depolymerization.

In the polymerisation method used by ECONYL, these monomers are then once more joined to additional identical monomers to create the nylon six polymer. The simplest building blocks of polymers are called monomers, and the process of joining these monomers to create polymers is known as polymerisation.

The ECONYL is transferred to production facilities where it is converted into yarn for use in industry following this sophisticated transformation process.

The business also makes textile yarn for the fashion industry and carpet yarn for the home furnishings market.

Carpeting and clothing, especially swimwear and activewear, frequently use ECONYL.

What's amazing about the regeneration process is that after these ECONYL items have reached the end of their lives, the fabric may re-enter the regeneration process and be remade into nylon that is identical to what it was before.

Repreve: Upcycled Plastic Bottles

A material called REPREVE is created from recycled plastic bottles. The cloth seats in the electrified Ford Focus, the fleece from Patagonia, and sustainable swimwear and trunks are all made from recycled plastic bottles. Today, REPREVE textiles have been made from more than 16 billion recycled plastic bottles.

Repreve is one of the most cutting-edge sustainable swimsuit fabrics available. This distinctive substance is created by turning recycled plastic bottles into useful fibres. Some of the biggest international businesses that produce swimwear, athletic clothing, and designer clothes use it.

Repreve is renowned for being dependable and strong, as well as for its wicking, adaptive warming, cooling, and water repellency properties. Repreve is also proud of the fact that its production processes create less glasshouse gases and require less water and energy.

Recycled PET plastic bottles are used to create Repreve, a polyester.

Repreve and Econyl swimwear typically lasts a lot longer than normal swimwear. Additionally, they can withstand chlorine and to some extent UV light.

A performance fibre called REPREVE is created from recycled plastic bottles.

REPREVE uses a tracing method to confirm recycled content claims in order to guarantee the recycled content in their fabrics.

Global textile solutions provider Unifi, which manufactures REPREVE, has recycled more than 16 billion plastic bottles to date and aims to recycle 20 billion bottles by the year 2020.

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.

Reprove is manufactured by Unifi, a multinational textile solutions provider that has recycled over 20 billion bottles as of this writing.

Recycled post-consumer plastic bottles are gathered, sorted, baled, cleaned, and cut into flakes behind the scenes of the Process of the Fibre First before being delivered to the REPREVE recycling centre, one of the most technologically advanced recycling facilities in the United States.

The factory processes the bottle flakes into REPREVE chips, which are then loaded into enormous silos, each of which can house 27 million recycled bottles. To create REPREVE fibre, the REPREVE chips are then combined, heated, and extruded. This special fibre has built-in performance qualities like resilience, heat regulation, order control, and moisture wicking.

Amni Soul Eco

A biodegradable polyamide was developed by Solvay, a Belgian corporation, to enable bacteria to access and digest waste products more quickly.

Amni Soul Eco thus decomposes from the globe in around five years as opposed to decades for other fibres.

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.

Amni Soul Eco® Thread developed the first recyclable and biodegradable polyamide yarn in the world, whereas most eco-friendly synthetic fibres concentrate on decreasing waste on the front end by using recycled resources.

While the yarn is as resilient and long-lasting when worn as other polyamide yarns, in a landfill setting, it will biodegrade in 5 years into organic matter (biomass) and biogas.

Lenzing, one of the most environmentally friendly fabric producers and the creator of Tencel, also uses this fabric to make cutting-edge textiles.

By allowing bacteria to digest the waste components to speed up biodegradation, Amni Soul Eco Thread has been specifically created to biodegrade reasonably quickly in anaerobic (i.e., oxygen-free) landfills.


Swimwear composed of cotton and hemp may conjure up images of hippy attire. But this most certainly 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.


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 Rainforest Alliance has confirmed the natural rubber's origins as Forest Stewardship Council compliant.

Neoprene is created in factories, whereas natural rubber is made by large trees that continuously absorb carbon, lowering CO2 emissions by up to 80%. Deforestation, though, could pose a problem for this fabric, therefore it's critical to practise responsible sourcing right away.

How Can Buying Sustainable Swimwear Help People And The Planet?

Many businesses directly support charities or establish foundations to safeguard both people and the environment. Therefore, by purchasing sustainable swimwear, you not only support circular design methodologies but also directly defend the workers who make your clothing.

Aima Dora takes pride in having standards for safe working conditions audited in its factories. The company also lends its support to the Sekool Association in Madagascar, a non-profit organisation that provides education for kids.

"Additionally, we collaborate with organisations to recycle the materials left over after manufacture. The garbage is subsequently turned into cushions, rugs, and fabric toys that are all designed for use by the neighbourhood "the Founder declares.

In addition to producing design-driven swimwear from ocean garbage, the sustainable swimwear company Sloppy Tunas also promotes and manages beach clean-ups in Spain and the Balearic Islands. Additionally, the brand works closely with Mediterranean fishermen to collect the waste plastic used to produce its products, thereby boosting regional economy and maintaining clean waters.

The Future of Sustainable Swimwear Fabric

Every fabric made from plastic, including nylon and polyester, releases harmful microplastics into the water.

It's not good, that! 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.

Exciting progress is being made right now to convert plant oils into bio-nylon. This product will be the first 100% sustainable swimwear fabric available when it is finished and ready to be released! It won't happen for a while.

But when it is, it will revolutionise the market for eco-friendly swimwear textiles.

FAQs About Ethical Swimsuit Materials 

What material is used in swimsuits?

For many years, polyester fabric has controlled the fiercely competitive swimwear market. Polyester is by far the most popular material for competition swimwear, whether it is combined with Lycra or used alone.

The hand and feel of polyester have been improved by new technologies, making it superior to other materials.

What is the most sustainable swimwear fabric?

Natural. Natural fibres and recycled fibres fall into two categories when it comes to sustainable swimwear.

One of the greenest textiles available is hemp, which is the clear winner in this case.

How is sustainable swimwear made?

Unlike conventional swimwear, sustainable swimwear is produced in a safe environment by workers who are paid fairly.

Many sustainable swimwear manufacturers work hard to give back to charity and local communities. It's frequently made from recycled fibres and uses circular or zero waste procedures.

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