Nowadays, you see them popping up like crazy, ‘sustainable swimwear’ brands. These brands are often putting effort into ethical production but also sustainable materials. The most well-known and used material in sustainable swimwear today is Econyl, however there are new innovations and sustainable alternatives available, which you definitely should know about.
Let’s start with, I think, the most well-known sustainable swimwear fabric, Econyl. For this fabric, waste is collected from landfills and oceans, to turn this back into a usable fabric. About 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear end up in our oceans every year, so why not make swimsuits out of it? It’s a way of getting rid of plastic pollution, and repurposing waste. Please note that it’s not just made from fishing nets and recycled clothing.
This fabric is still ‘plastic’, so we need to be very careful about the way we treat it. Just because it is made of recycled materials, which is a big plus, doesn’t mean it’s 100% good. This fabric can still release microfibers when washed for instance. Make sure to wash your recycled polyester or Econyl swimsuit by hand. You can read more about how sustainable Econyl is over on Good On You.
Solvay, a Belgian company created a biodegradable polyamide which allows bacteria to gain access to and digest the waste materials, which accelerates the biodegradation process. Amni Soul Eco is eliminated from the planet in about 5 years, whilst other fibres take decades to decompose.
Like other biodegradable products, once it is in the landfill, this fabric breaks down into organic matter (biomass) and biogas; both of these can then be exploited as new environmental resources as well as being used to cogenerate electricity.
This fabric is also used by Lenzing, one of the most sustainable fabric manufacturers who created Tencel, to create innovative fabrics.
The fiber of Repreve is made from recycled plastic bottles. They created a tracing technology that verifies recycled content claims, to guarantee the recycled content in their fabrics.
The company that makes Reprove, Unifi, is a global textile solutions company that has recycled over 20 billion bottles up to date.
When you think of swimwear made from cotton and hemp, you might think of hippie swimwear. However this is most definitely not the case anymore.
Hemp is one of the most sustainable natural fabrics.
Hemp grows without pesticides, enriches the soil and clears the air from co2. Next to that, hemp fabric is also anti-microbial, UV resistant and very durable. Which means the fabric doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals some companies use to make synthetic fabrics anti-microbial, UV resistant, and chlorine resistant.
A brand that uses hemp in their sustainable swimwear collections: Natasha Tonic,
Do you know neoprene? It looks pretty cool and comfy especially whilst surfing, but it’s not environmentally friendly. A few years ago Yulex came to the market. This is an innovative plant-based and sustainable alternative to limestone or petroleum neoprene. It’s soft and supple neoprene-free material that is lightweight and suprer-stretchy.
The natural rubber is derived from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance. While neoprene is made in factories, natural rubber is produced by hevea trees that absorb carbon throughout their lifespan—reducing CO2 emissions by up to 80%. A potential challenge for this fabric is deforestation – which is why responsible sourcing from the start is important.
NEED MORE INSPIRATION?
Are you looking for sustainable swimwear? Have a look at my sustainable swimwear brandlist with enough inspiration to get you swimming!
Also, I’ve listed some tips on how to take proper care for your sustainable swimwear!
>> The term sustainable can be pretty broad and the industry and innovations are changing fast. Therefor I would always recommend to have a look at the about page, as well as the details you can find on the product pages of the brand you’re looking at for more and the latest information.22