You've probably heard a lot lately about sustainable fashion. Sustainability is becoming more and more popular in the swimsuit sector, just like any other trend.
It's fantastic for the environment and your bank account, too!
So read on to find out how to get a new bikini this season if you want to do so in a more environmentally friendly manner.
What is sustainable fashion, to begin with? Sustainable clothing can be produced with less water and energy and can be manufactured from recycled or organic materials.
Some individuals might believe that products labelled "organic" were always produced sustainably, however that isn't always the case! Manufacturers have a wide range of options for producing sustainable products, particularly sustainable swimwear.
What Does Sustainable Mean?
Companies typically imply that the material they use is of sustainable origin when they talk about sustainable swimwear (and clothes in general).
This could imply that it was produced using natural materials (such cotton, silk, and wool) that were sourced responsibly and recycled materials.
Because it must be elastic and moisture-wicking, synthetic materials are used to make the majority of swimwear. This makes it challenging to use only natural materials.
A silk bikini would look amazing, but we don't believe it would be practical or comfortable.
Because of this, making sustainable swimwear mainly relies on using recycled fabrics. Econyl, a fabric manufactured from recycled nylon, and Repreve, a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, are two examples.
These businesses turn waste materials into new fabrics that may be used to make your new favourite sustainable bikini. These materials would otherwise end up in landfills or floating around in the ocean.
Even though it's far from being a flawless solution, it's a great method to reuse and repurpose already existent materials.
Recycled Swimwear FAQs
What Is the Problem With Microplastics?
Microplastics are the reason why it's not flawless. Although it's excellent to use recycled materials, the fact that these materials are ultimately made of plastic remains true.
For instance, clothing sheds fibres when worn and washed, regardless of the material it is composed of. These miniscule fibres are undetectable to the naked eye. Therefore, even if the clothing is recycled, it will shed these microscopic fragments of plastic if it is composed of synthetic materials.
Unfortunately, the ecosystem is seriously endangered by these tiny objects, often known as microplastics. Leaching harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates, often known as endocrine disruptors, they wind up in our water, seas, and food.
We are aware that this sounds really frightening, so you may be wondering, "Why utilise these materials at all?" We get what you're saying, but using virgin plastic instead accomplishes the same goal.
We are at least relieving the pressure of needing to pull additional resources from the planet to produce new plastic by using recycled material. It is the less harmful option.
How to Reduce Microfibre Shedding from Swimwear?
The following are essential for minimising the impact of your swimsuit's microfibre shedding:
- Using less soap
- Spot clean (wash only the part of the garment that is dirty or stained)
- Instead of using a machine, wash by hand (the gyration of the washing machine increases shedding). The articles will gyrate less during the cycle if the load is full if you chose to machine wash the clothes.
- Instead of shaking, twisting, or wringing the clothing, soak it.
- To collect and properly dispose of the microfibres, use a Guppy Bag or Cora Ball.
Which Fabrics Make up Sustainable Swimwear?
What should you watch out for as sustainable swimwear is made from a variety of fibres and fabrics? Here are some of the most popular eco-friendly swimwear fabrics as well as some potential brand names.
A type of recycled nylon known as ECONYL is mostly derived from carpets and fishing lines.
Through a four-step process, these raw materials are regenerated to create a finished good that is chemically equivalent to virgin (non-fossil fuel-based) nylon. According to the producers, the emissions involved in making ECONYL are 90% fewer than those involved in making virgin nylon.
Additionally, the fabric created may be recycled endlessly into new ECONYL yarn and goods, opening the door to closed-loop production methods.
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.
You may have heard about Yulex, a new material that is gaining popularity in eco-friendly wetsuits.
This fabric is made from natural rubber and is a wonderful replacement for rubbers made from petroleum.
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 natural fibres over recycled fake ones 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.
What Makes a Bathing Suit Sustainable?
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 Swimwear Bad for the Environment?
The suits are not biodegradable, for starters. When you wash them, they also lose small bits of plastic called microfibers.
These specks wind up in the ocean, where they are ingested by marine life and eventually into our food chain.
Common Sustainability Problems in Swimwear
For those of us who spend our whole lives outside, including myself, it's easy to overdo it by stuffing our drawers with the newest fashion statement. But swimwear also has another issue with sustainability in addition to falling victim to the quick fashion cycle: plastic.
Because they remove moisture from the body and stretch to fit the body, synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and spandex are ideal for swimwear because they lessen friction in the water.
The fashion industry mainly relies on them since they are also adaptable and affordable to produce, used not only for swimwear but also for activewear, outerwear, and other low-cost, fast-fashion clothing.
This is a significant concern because plastic never decomposes, which makes it problematic throughout the whole production process, from the release of microfibres during washing to the disposal of the garment at the end of its useful life.
Fortunately, the finest method for maintaining your swimwear—gentle hand washing—is also the best method for minimising microfibre emissions. Additionally, it makes the most sense because swimwear is typically worn for a relatively little length of time and shouldn't frequently need to be machine washed!
Eco-Friendly Bikini Materials
Thankfully, there are alternatives to the harmful polymers that are used to make the majority of swimsuits.
Eco-friendly materials, like ECONYL, developed by the Italian company Aquafil, utilise synthetic waste, including waste fabric, fishing nets from the ocean, and recycle and regenerate it to make new nylon yarn with properties similar to those of virgin nylon.
Even better, other swimsuit companies are addressing this demand by inventing and producing their luxurious materials from recycled nylon fibres or other natural substitutes.
Addressing Microplastics Pollution in the Fashion Industry
A simple answer is to utilise fewer synthetic fibres. However, natural fibres are insufficient for swimwear.
Wool and cotton are not strong enough to withstand the numerous environmental stresses or suitable for usage in water.
Sportswear and activewear face comparable challenges.
Some companies are aware of these difficulties and choose to make concessions. For instance, employing pure synthetic fibres to reinforce recycled nylon or creating clothing from natural fibres might boost a piece's durability while lowering its effect.
Making artificially disposable clothing from just natural fibres is essentially kicking the pollution can down the road.
Naturally, there is a trade-off between using synthetic fibres to make clothing and preventing clothing from ending up in landfills.
Not all of the news is bad. Believe it or not, sustainability is becoming popular, and the fashion industry is surely not above leveraging fads.
Customers are becoming more drawn to companies which promote their eco-friendly initiatives.
Numerous companies are providing free clothes repairs in an effort to increase brand loyalty.
A major step in the right direction, several fashion brands have even committed to full-circularity.
In the end, even smaller firms will find the required infrastructure already in place, easing the transition to a more sustainable fashion industry, if garment giants are making the transfer to a circular clothing system.
And the standard is definitely raised when groups like Reformation enter the mix and identify areas for improvement.
Tips on Finding a Truly Sustainable Swimwear Brand
As you are surely aware, plastic cannot decompose, therefore new swimsuits don't actually need to be made from virgin plastic. There is already a lot of it available.
Here are several brands of eco-friendly swimwear to consider.
Do They Use Sustainable Fabric?
The level of innovation in this field is astounding; new materials and solutions are developed yearly.
Let's examine a few of the materials you should watch out for while buying a sustainable swimwear.
Understand the Difference Between Ethical Vs. Sustainable
It's crucial to understand where your swimsuit's material is made. But that's also how it was created. Talking about a "sustainable" bikini that was produced in subpar conditions in an abusive workplace would be meaningless.
Unfortunately, the term "sustainable" does not always consider these factors.
This implies that a company might advertise its swimwear as "sustainable" without ensuring respectable working conditions. The word "ethical" can be helpful in this situation.
You want to know who made it when you purchase environmentally friendly swimwear. what circumstances? What kind of material? Where on earth is this? These indicators will show you whether a brand is truly conscientious or merely using greenwashing to win your business.
Greenwashing: How to Spot It
Disinformation deliberately spread by a group or business in an effort to project an appearance of environmental responsibility is known as "greenwashing."
This occurs when a business spends more effort and money on public perception of sustainability than on really being sustainable.
Depending on the brand, greenwashing can take many various forms, but here are some warning signs to watch out for as you scroll:
- Buzzwords like "eco," "green," "sustainable," "conscious," and "natural" without much or any supporting information.
- Packaging with a muted or natural colour scheme.
- Utilizing green in their branding and messaging.
- Not knowing the origin of the materials.
- Finding information on the product is difficult.
- Instead of accepting responsibility for the waste they are producing, some campaigns encourage consumers to "recycle and repurpose" their products.
Overall, it appears that greenwashing is more of a means to make the buyer feel better about their purchases when they have any good environmental impact.
How to Avoid Greenwashing in Sustainable Swimwear
A truly sustainable product extends beyond the actual product to the business's principles.
Unfortunately, some companies may use the term "sustainable" as a hip, politically correct buzzword while in reality, their eco-credentials are far from stellar.
This practise is referred to as "greenwashing," and it's simpler than you might think to fall for the scam.
To determine whether a business is actually sustainable or just doing a good job of pretending, look out for the following signs. It does take some effort to separate the good from the poor.
READ the entire product description.
For instance, if something says it is "made of recycled plastic bottles," look at the proportion to determine if virgin polyester is still used.
AVOID purchasing "sustainable" products from fast-fashion stores. Whether or not that particular bikini claims to have prevented seven plastic bottles from ending up in landfills, if they are manufacturing apparel in large quantities, they are still polluting the environment.
The quality probably won't hold up to the needs of a swimsuit for scuba diving anyway, and there's a good likelihood that they're abusing their production workers.
ASK THE COMPANY IF THE PEOPLE MAKING THE PRODUCT ARE VALUED, AND SEEK TRANSPARENCY IN THEIR SUPPLY AND PRODUCTION
DON'T pick items designed with water-saving, low-impact colours.
DO examine the packaging the goods is being sent in. Look for references to few labelling and recyclable or compostable exterior packaging.
DON'T purchase something from a faraway country just because it is sustainable.
Instead, give preference to local, sustainable brands whenever possible. To assist you, we've included below the locations of our favourite brands.
DO give brands that support diversity top priority.
Sustainability is not just "greenwashed," but also "whitewashed," and we should be praising the companies that include people with different skin tones, larger frames, and impairments to reflect a varied spectrum of body types.
DO keep an eye out for companies that support environmental initiatives.
The finest sustainable brands support environmental cleanups, conservation efforts, marine research, and government initiatives to have a longer-lasting positive impact on the health of our world.
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.
Look for Transparency
Transparency is the real secret to choosing a sustainable swimwear company. Let's face it, building a successful brand requires a lot of work.
Finding sustainable sources for materials, producing responsibly, and turning a profit are difficult tasks.
And, of course, no one is flawless. There will never be a business that does everything perfectly.
However, if you can't locate this kind of information on a company, be wary.
Because a brand that is actually doing their hardest and has your best interest, their employees and the planet's at heart, is going to make that information very easy to access.
Finding a great bathing suit might be challenging enough. When looking for ethical and sustainable options, try not to stress out.
Investigate the brands you come across a little bit, and keep in mind that openness is essential. Prepare for a Sustainable Girl Summer, whatever you do!