Why Sustainable Swimwear?
We've all heard the statistics - by 2050; there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. So it's up to us to make a change and opt for sustainable alternatives when it comes to clothing choices.
What are some of the benefits of using sustainable swimwear? Of course, the most obvious benefit is that you're not contributing any harmful chemicals or waste into our environment, which can accumulate and harm wildlife and humans alike.
Sustainable swimwear also typically lasts longer than other types of swimsuits, so you won't constantly be purchasing replacements. Lastly, these suits look just as good as their non-sustainable counterparts! If this has convinced you that opting for sustainable swimwear is worth it, then check out our blog post.
Wearing a bikini, like most things in life, is about balance. Of course, we want to show off our bodies and feel confident while doing it--but we also want to care for the environment and be mindful of how we will look years from now. The good news is that sustainable swimwear can offer both! There are many eco-friendly options on the market today that let you have your cake and eat it too.
There are many reasons why sustainable swimwear is the best choice for you and your environment. Many people wear these garments to increase their confidence in public settings, but did you know that there's more than just personal satisfaction at stake?
The production of all swimwear takes a toll on our planet. It can take up to 500 gallons of water to produce one garment! In addition, each garment produces over 20 pounds of hazardous chemicals and contributes to 16 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
If we all make an effort towards sustainability by choosing this type of attire when possible, we can help save our planet from further damage.
Is it time to invest in sustainable swimwear? Possibly, but what is the difference between regular and sustainable? Sustainable clothing is made with natural fabrics like cotton or hemp, which are sourced from organic farms.
These materials are better for our environment because they don't emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere when they're manufactured. They also require less water than synthetic fibres to produce so that you can feel good about that too!
Lately, there has been much buzz around how important it is to wear clothes that will not harm our planet. If you want to be part of this movement towards sustainability, then now's the time - your swimsuit should be next on your list!
There are many reasons why you should choose sustainable swimwear. The first reason is that the textile industry pollutes our planet with toxic chemicals, harmful dyes and pesticides. Choosing a garment made out of organic cotton means you are not contributing to these problems by choosing an eco-friendly product.
Secondly, suppose we continue to consume non-organic textiles at the rate we currently do. In that case, there will be no natural resources left for future generations because it takes up to 1000 years for nature to replenish one square mile of forestland!
Lastly, buying clothes manufactured in sweatshops perpetuates child labour which is morally wrong on so many levels. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for sustainable swimwear, so please consider buying something made from eco-friendly fabrics.
Let's get started!
So why the need for sustainable swimwear?
The textile industry is the 2nd biggest industrial polluter in the world, behind oil, accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions. Let that sink in a minute…
But it isn't just the creation of new fabrics that significantly impact the environment due to its land, water, and energy-intensive operations.
There’s an additional issue of textile waste and what to do with it. In Australia alone, an estimated 3m tonnes of textiles goes into landfill each year. With an estimated 6 tonnes of clothing to landfill every 10 minutes. That’s F**ked!
The conscious amongst us, which includes YOU for being rad and reading this article (Yeah you!!). You care about plastic bottles and straws. Well, wow, it's time to care about your old T-shirts, ski jackets, and yoga leggings and what can be done to reduce their impact.
Did you know that polyester is made from petroleum and takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade?
The future is circular
The immediate benefit of textile recycling is to divert increasing amounts of waste from landfills. However, trends such as fast fashion and minimalism have the unintended consequences of increasing fabric waste which is now a global waste issue.
Patagonia just made an incredible 12-minute film called 'Why Recycled?" explaining the issue in-depth, which I highly recommend you watch.
A new industry now exists which looks at waste as a precious resource. In sustainable swimwear, the industry 'up-cycles' regenerated nylon fibres made from recycled plastic polymers like fishing nets, plastic bottles, and carpets. The two big textile players in the game are ECONYL® – made in Italy, and REPREVE® – made in the U.S.
REPREVE alone has recycled over 18 million plastic bottles to date.
Did you know: one kilogram of virgin cotton requires over 13,000 litres of water. In comparison, one kilogram of recovered, upcycled cotton requires no additional water, farming, processing, or dyeing than when it was first produced and generated no additional greenhouse gasses.
Other important factors in creating sustainable swimwear
Adopting up-cycled textiles is excellent, but other factors need to be considered to be a truly sustainable swimwear brand.
- Attention to the fabric dyeing process. Adopting digital printing to reduce water use (traditional printing techniques require 50-60 litres of water per meter on average) and using nontoxic dyes that don't contaminate the water and air.
- Manufacturing garments in factories that comply with strict environmental regulations and eliminate unnecessary waste.
- Paying a fair price for labour and providing clean and safe working conditions.
- Off-setting any carbon emissions to become a carbon-neutral company.
- Playing close attention to your supply chain and shipping
It’s worth noting that many brands haven’t made the switch to 100% recycled fabrics due to the quality being arguably not as good as virgin fabrics.
The distance that these brought fabrics need to travel is also being considered. For example, Econyl is recycled in a plant in Slovenia, sent to a mill in Italy, then to a warehouse in Hong Kong. With sustainability, it is never that black and white.
Every action, touch-point, or process has an impact. The trick is being conscious of those actions so you can opt for the least impact.
The sustainable swimwear brands making waves
It is heart-warming to know that the small, female-owned, independent surf swimwear brands are the ones leading the charge in sustainable swimwear. While implementing all the above would be a huge effort, it is incredibly inspiring to know some are looking at all elements.
The operating costs to produce sustainable swimwear are very high, cutting into the already small profit margins. But, if these awesome independent brands can do it, big surf brands and businesses can too (come on, major swimwear brands!).
So the next time you need new swimwear, buy sustainable and buy from one of the brands below that are making a difference. We have personally tested all of these brands and can testify they are of the highest quality, will last a long time, and their suits perform in the surf.
We applaud all these sustainable swimwear brands and support them wholeheartedly for all their efforts that go far beyond the small summary we give below. Check out each of their websites and read their personal stories. All these women and the brands they have built are an inspiration.
In no particular order…
1. Sensi Graves Bikinis
Established in 2012 by professional kiteboarder Sensi Graves, this U.S. brand creates sustainable swimwear that's both fiercely functional and fabulously feminine. Sustainability is at the core of everything they do.
In 2019, Sensi set up an Indigogo campaign to help fund the transition of the whole 2020 line of 5 tops and five bottoms, to all be made from recycled textiles (the swimwear will still contain a percentage of non-recycled spandex or lycra). They raised over AUD 37,000 to make this change.
Sensi Graves Bikinis sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from ECONYLl® and REPREVE® upcycled fabrics
- Uses recycled or compostable liners, polybags, labels, and hangtags
- Use digital printing methods that use minimal water
- 1% For The Planet Member – 1% of sales donated to environmental groups
- Made in Salem, Oregon. Shipped from Hood River, Oregon
- Off-set all carbon emissions in partnership with Climate Neutral
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Sensi Graves Bikinis website.
Finding the perfect swimsuit can be tough, but with Wolven, you can kiss those worries goodbye! Not only are their sustainable swim pieces adorable A.F., but most styles are reversible. So, for example, the Santorini Ruched Top can be worn FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS.
That means you can literally hit the pool four times without anyone knowing you’re in the same suit. Outfit repeater, who? As if we haven’t already convinced you to get a suit from Wolven, wait until you hear this!
Their soft and comfortable garments are made from plastic water bottles. Yep, they're literally made from recycled P.E.T. fabrics that are spun from BPA-free bottles. Complete with eco-friendly packaging and carbon off-sets, each shipment is sent with Mother Nature on top of mind.
3. Salt Gypsy
A completely independent and self-funded business that has been sustainable since conception. Salt Gypsy evolved from founder Danielle Clayton’s surf blog while working as a surf guide on the boats in the Maldives.
The brand is now based in Byron Bay, Australia, designed for a global community of surfers. In addition, salt Gypsy recently launched a world-first of surfboards designed for women.
Salt Gypsy sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from ECONYLl® upcycled fabrics
- Responsibly manufactured in Australia
- Uses biodegradable packaging
- Offer a take-back scheme to recycle your old Surf Gypsy garments
When it comes to all-things-apparel, look to Reformation. In addition to their everyday clothing, undergarments, and accessories.
Reformation uses a blend of recycled polyester and lycra to fashion their trendy suits, and, in the information section of each garment, you'll find its sustainability impact. For instance, the enchanting Tide Bikini Top saves 11 pounds of carbon dioxide, 32 gallons of water, and 1.1 pounds of waste. How awesome is that?
Started by two Costa Rican women blessed by birth to live in a tropical, wave-rich paradise. DKOKO is fiercely focused on positively impacting the region of Central America that they operate in.
At Dkoko, they believe that planetary well being requires us all to buy less but buy better. Therefore, the highest priority is to REDUCE waste and make high-quality products.
DKOKO sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Focus on high quality to make products last through the seasons to reduce waste.
- Made from Lycra Extra Life with U.P.F. protection, purchased directly from the producer in Brazil. The fabric supplier is Oeketex certified and dutifully compliant with all regional social and environmental standards.
Operating with the latest technology in state-of-the-art machinery, their textiles are manufactured using water from the Tiete River in Sao Paolo (one of the most polluted in the Americas). Their ecologically sound production process treats the water and returns it clean back into the river.
- Handcrafting locally in their very own sewing shop, supporting families in Masaya, Nicaragua.
- Social responsibility: All full-time Dkoko employees receive benefits including health insurance, social security, and pension funds, two days off per week, a month of paid vacation per year, and double salary through the month of December.
- Limited quantities: Manufacturing out of our boutique sewing shop in Nicaragua, instead of Asia, allows us to produce in limited quantities and only manufacture the number of garments we sell, keeping waste at an absolute minimum.
- All clothing is made from 100% organic cotton and hemp.
- Zero plastic’s used to label or tag the products and biodegradable mailers.
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the DKOKO website.
6. Bromelia Swimwear
After Lauren Quinn moved to Brazil and was exposed to the beautifully crafted designs of locals, she founded Bromelia Swimwear.
This ethical clothing company works directly with native Brazilian artists, especially women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, to bring their vibrant designs to life.
Bromelia offers their artists fair paid wages, a dignified workspace, respect for their craft, and empowerment through experience. From the sketch stage all the way to construction and finishing touches, these stunning swim pieces are masterfully created to highlight women’s bodies.
This season, we've been eyeing the stunning sage-coloured Pantanal Bikini Top and Bottoms—it's the perfect summer suit!
7. Elation Surfwear
Created by young Australian surfer Kellie, Elation swimwear is designed in Newcastle, Australia, manufactured in Bali, Indonesia. Sustainable and ethically produced unique swimwear made for the women who feel at home in the sea.
Elation Surfwear’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from ECONYLl® and REPREVE® upcycled fabrics
- Balinese employees are paid 2.5 times more than the minimum wage and are provided with insurance for the individual and their family
- Use compostable mailing satchels and hygiene stickers, not plastic
- Prints are digitally printed using eco-certified dyes
- The product comes in a reusable zip-able pouch, not plastic
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Elation Surfwear website.
8. Santos Swim
Do you have a case of wanderlust? Then get yourself a suit from Santos Swim! This globally conscious swimwear brand pulls design inspiration from travel destinations around the world.
The Seminyak One Piece, depicted after the Indonesian resort, is a versatile garment that can be worn as a swimsuit or bodysuit.
It’s composed of 78% ECONYL, a material made from discarded fishing nets, plastic, and fabric scraps. All Santos Swim garments are sent in biodegradable packing materials and made in collaboration with a manufacturing partner that provides safe working conditions, fair wages, and medical insurance for both workers and their families.
Marie moved from Germany to Bali with a background in clothing engineering, learned the local language, and interned in local factories to build a local team you can meet in videos on the Zealous website.
Every surf bikini and item from the streetwear collection embodies the effort and love of staff members she knows first-hand.
Zealous Clothing sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- The OCEAN surf bikini range is made with 78% ECONYL and 22% virgin spandex
- Designed, engineered, tested, cut and sewn in Bali, Indonesia. Then shipped to the warehouse in Hamburg, Germany
- 2019 was the first year that Zealous will be carbon neutral
- 75% of apparel collections are made from organic & recycled fabrics
- All tags and strings are biodegradable – no stud or metal ring
- Uses biodegradable bags to pack the products themselves & compostable mailers to send to customers
- DHL GoGreen CO2neutral shipment: to wholesale and end customers
- 1% For The Planet Member – donate 1% of our annual sales to support environmental solutions
- They also organise beach clean-ups around Bali from time-to-time
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Zealous Clothing website.
Luciana Martinez got her start sewing clothes as a child. Now, she owns an entire Brazilian swimwear brand dedicated to empowering women through flattering, comfortable, and sustainably made suits.
From triangle, strapless, and ruffled tops to one-pieces and cover-ups, the offerings from Lybethras are perfect to rock for a day in the sun. Unfortunately, the brand's CO2 control fabric is made from a polyamide yarn that is easily decomposed after disposing of in a landfill—although, when you see these stunning suits, we highly doubt they'll see a landfill anytime soon.
Lybethras’s other environmentally friendly practices include digitally printing fabrics with sustainable inks, providing fair wages and safe working conditions to employees, and upcycling leftover fabrics.
11. Anowi Surf
A small indie brand out the heart of the Garment District in Manhattan, N.Y.C. Anowi strives to be as sustainable as possible in all practices. The quality of their manufacturing is evident at first sight. They are currently working on a take-back scheme to develop a full lifecycle of their swimwear products.
Anowi Surf sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made REPREVE® upcycled fabrics
- Water-less process of digital printing on fabrics
- Designed, produced and shipped from New York City, U.S.A.
- All suppliers are located in the U.S.A.
- All packaging is made out of recycled materials, including the sticker to seal the packaging
- Currently working on creating products out of scraps of production fabric, including old Anowi swimwear from customers
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Anowi Surf website.
Whether you’re in search of a rockin’ new one-piece or a cute and trendy bikini, Galamaar has you covered—literally. This company uses nylon from fishing nets that were once discarded in the ocean to produce their swim pieces.
Talk about full circle! And not only does Galamaar help reduce ocean pollution, but they also utilise recycled hang tags, regenerated mixed metal hardware, and eco-friendly packaging. All while composing the most eye-catching tops and trunks.
Pro tip: Mix and match their swim separates to find the best combination for your body and style preferences.
13. Monique Rotteveel
Monique Surf and Swimwear are made in Europe in a small family-owned factory. Its mission is to bring about positive change in the world. Monique's personal goal is to create fair, functional & feminine designs with colourful prints.
Monique Rotteveel’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from ECONYLl® upcycled fabrics
- Recycled & biodegradable packaging
- 1% For The Planet Member – Donating 1% of all sales to environmental causes
- Their entire production takes place in Europe, with production in Bulgaria, & the warehouse in The Netherlands
- Fabrics are digitally printed to reduce water
- Fair wages and good working conditions for everyone involved
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Monique Rotteveel website.
Instead of supporting fast fashion and buying the hottest and newest garments, it’s much more sustainable (and affordable) to purchase high-quality garments that will last you a long time. That’s where SEPTEMBER comes into play!
The female-owned swim brand specialises in timeless, complementary, and sophisticated swim pieces that are built to last. Each suit is composed of Italian recycled nylon spun from ghost fishing nets recovered from the ocean and decked out with trim and packaging made from recycled card stock and P.V.C.
On top of that, SEPTEMBER's suits are all produced in a locally owned and operated factory in Bali that follows fair and ethical labour standards. So when you're ready to place your order, you can rest assured that it will last you through the season—and beyond!
15. Bondi Alchemist
Jarra started an Australian brand with a famous local beach named Bondi Alchemist focused on slow design and 'getting it right'.
Ethically hand-made and produced in small volumes in Bali, Jarra wants women to feel beautiful in her sustainable, ethical, unique, flattering, AND technically made surfwear for women. Mindful to not overproduce, Jarra makes small runs, so once they are sold out, that's it!
The Bondi Alchemist’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from Carvico – a fabric comprised of sustainable techno-fabric made from ECONYL®
- Designed on the road, all cut, sewn & shipped from Bali
- The factory package directly into biodegradable packaging
- All items come in a reusable cloth bag
- To reduce CO2 emissions from shipping, all products are sent directly to the customer from where it is produced in Bali
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Bondi Alchemist website.
16. Shapes in the Sand
This Australian-based swim label describes itself as "the embodiment of a love for the natural world through drawing inspiration from nature and the diversity within it." So when you scroll through their site, expect to be welcomed with a plethora of gorgeous patterns and flattering shapes.
Their stunning suit offerings include bikini tops and bottoms, one-pieces, and rash guards hand-made from two different eco-friendly techno fabrics—Econyl and E.V.O. yarn. Econyl yarn is formed out of waste pulled from the ocean, while E.V.O. yarn is produced from castor bean oil, a renewable resource that does not require water or impacts the food chain—human or animal.
These fabrics are printed locally without the use of water or harsh chemicals. Additionally, any leftover material is turned into accessories, like headbands.
Every piece of CURMS is individually hand-made by Carmen from the Netherlands and a dedicated little family in Indonesia with a passion for swimwear.
Each item is a unique piece of art, and it is owner Carmen's ethos that CURMS isn't just about the product but the story behind it.
This is sustainable swimwear made with craftsmanship, quality and meaning. They use an ancient Indonesian weaving technique called IKAT which they then use to pattern textiles.
CURMS’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from VITA XTRA LIFE LYCRA®, which is made with ECONYL® and 100% regenerated nylon fibre.
- Fabrics are printed using sublimation printing using no water.
- They re-use as much as they can (paper, fabric, etc.)
- Garments packaged in a little cotton bag with a drawstring, which you can reuse again
- All garments are sewn in collaboration with a small local family in Eastern-Java Indonesia
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the CURMS website.
18. La Porte
Halter top one-pieces, ruffle bottom bikinis, scoop neck tops, swim shorts—you name it, La Porte’s got it! This lovable bathing suit company prides itself on manufacturing high-quality products that make you feel the most confident.
One of the ways they do so is with their open-door policy, which allows customers to exchange their suit within one year of their initial purchase if they experience a fluctuation in their size or shape. Everything is made from sustainably sourced Italian fabric and produced in New York.
19. Hakuna Wear
A new indie brand out of San Diego, California, from a surfer with a P.H.D. in chemistry! In a commitment to sustainability, Jessica is committed to using new wetsuit materials that can replace the harmful environmental neoprene and offering to repair any damage to products from wear and tear.
Hakuna Wear’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from upcycled fabrics
- All swimwear is designed, made, and shipped from San Diego, California.
- Hakuna Wear Ding Repair – Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge
- Using Yulex and limestone neoprene in the place of petroleum-based neoprene
Check out the full range of sustainable swimwear and sustainable bikinis on the Hakuna Wear website.
20. Hackwith Design House
This season's swim lineup from Hackwith Design House is jaw-droppingly gorgeous! Whatever colour and style you're looking for, there's bound to be a suit for you!
The Two-Tone Shoulder Tie One Piece pays homage to the oh-so-popular colour-block trend. It features a deep scoop back, adjustable shoulder straps, and a high-cut bottom.
The gorgeous garments from Hackwith Design House are all composed of recycled polyester and hand-made by a talented seamstress team in Minnesota. Their products are minimalistic yet elegant and come in an array of colours and fits.
21. TIDE + SEEK
Tide + Seek is a surf swimwear company out of the U.K. They make cute pastel swimwear with a commitment to using only upcycled fabrics.
Tide + Seek’s sustainable swimwear policy includes:
- Made from REPREVE® upcycled fabrics
- Fabric off-cuts are used to make cute headbands
- Comes packaged in a reusable canvas pouch
22. Kitty and Vibe
Can’t decide between a bikini or a one-piece? Kitty and Vibe’s Cut Out One Piece is the best of both worlds! It has all the comfort and security of a one-piece with a bikini-inspired cutout in the middle to show a little extra skin.
Oh, and it has the most stunning sweetheart neckline! Kitty and Vibe’s other styles include backless one-pieces, high-waisted bottoms, front tie tops, and just about every other bikini style you can imagine.
In terms of sustainability, the brand makes most of its garments using 82% recycled polyester placed in 100% biodegradable bags and shipped in packaging made from 100% recycled content.
Their factory workers are paid above minimum wage and offered benefits like retirement plans and healthcare. In short, Kitty and Vibe passes the vibe check with flying colours.