As we approach the summer season, it’s important to consider our impact on the environment when choosing swimwear. The fashion industry is notorious for its negative impact on the planet, with tons of textiles ending up in landfills every year.
Sustainable swimwear, on the other hand, is designed with eco-friendly materials, production methods, and certifications that minimize its carbon footprint. An increasing number of ethical fashion brands are offering swimwear options that are both stylish and sustainable – from bikinis made from recycled fishing nets to one-pieces crafted from regenerated nylon.
Choosing swimwear that is both fashion-forward and eco-friendly is not only better for the planet, but it also helps to support brands that prioritize sustainability in their practices.
Why does it matter?
Swimsuits are a summer staple, but not all swimsuits are created equal. Purchasing a sustainable swimsuit can have a significant positive impact on the environment. Here are several compelling reasons why buying sustainable swimsuits matters.
Reduced environmental impact
The traditional manufacturing process of swimwear uses a significant amount of fossil fuels and releases harmful chemicals into the environment. Sustainable swimsuits are made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, and bamboo, significantly reducing the harmful environmental impact.
Avoidance of harmful chemicals
Conventional swimwear production involves the use of harmful chemicals such as chlorine and dyes that pose significant health risks to workers in manufacturing plants and potential wearers. Sustainable swimsuits are manufactured using non-toxic dyes and chemicals that are gentle on the environment and safe for humans.
Reduced plastic waste
Traditional swimsuits are made from synthetic materials that do not biodegrade and release microplastics into the environment. These microplastics are harmful to flora and fauna, especially marine life. Choosing to buy sustainable swimsuits made from recycled materials helps reduce plastic waste and protect our environment.
Decreased carbon footprint
The carbon footprint of traditional swimwear is high as it relies on petrochemical-derived fibers. The production of sustainable swimsuits involves fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less water usage than conventional swimwear production.
Support for Ethical Supply Chains
Sustainable swimsuits are often manufactured using ethical supply chains that prioritize fair pay and safe working conditions for workers. By purchasing sustainable swimwear, you are supporting the humane treatment of workers and fair trade practices.
Eliminates disposable culture
Sustainable swimwear is built to last, meaning it can be worn for years. Purchasing sustainable swimwear encourages wardrobe longevity and supports circularity, where materials and resources are kept in use for longer.
By making a conscious effort to choose sustainable swimwear, we can all play a role in protecting our planet and preserving its natural resources.
What are the characteristics of sustainable swimwear?
When looking for sustainable swimwear options, it’s important to consider certifications, such as Oeko-tex-certified fabrics, ethical manufacturing, and fair labor certifications. Here is a list of some certifications to look for when shopping for sustainable swimwear:
Oeko-Tex certification is considered the gold standard in the textile industry. It guarantees that no harmful chemicals have been used in the manufacturing process of the fabric. This includes the chemicals used in dyes and finishes. Oeko-Tex-certified swimwear is safe for both the wearer and the environment.
Fair Labor Association (FLA) Certified
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is an industry-leading organization that promotes fair labor practices in global supply chains. FLA-certified swimwear guarantees that workers involved in the production of bathing suits have been treated fairly. This certification ensures that workers have access to safe working conditions, fair wages, and other benefits they are entitled to.
Bluesign certification ensures that environmental and social criteria are met by textile manufacturers. This certification evaluates the manufacturing process’s environmental impact, including the materials used, the energy consumption, and the waste generated. Bluesign-certified swimwear guarantees that the production process has met high environmental standards.
Global Recycled Standard (GRS) Certified
Swimwear made from recycled materials can reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification ensures that swimwear has been made from recycled materials in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner.
Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade certification is given to products that have been produced in a way that provides fair prices and better working conditions for producers, farmers, and workers involved in the production process. Fair Trade-certified swimwear guarantees that workers have been paid fair wages and that environmental and social standards have been met.
Sustainable swimwear has been gaining popularity due to the increasing demand for eco-friendly and ethical fashion. The fabric used in sustainable swimwear plays a significant role in reducing environmental impact and promoting ocean conservation efforts. Here is a well-researched list of fabrics used in sustainable swimwear:
- Recycled Nylon Fabric: One of the most common fabrics used in sustainable swimwear is recycled nylon. This material is made from post-industrial and post-consumer waste such as fishing nets, carpets, and discarded clothing. It requires less energy and resources to produce than virgin nylon and reduces the amount of plastic waste in the ocean.
- Regenerated Nylon: Regenerated nylon is a sustainable material that is produced using discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste. This type of fabric is biodegradable, which means it breaks down naturally in the environment without causing harm. Regenerated nylon is also a durable and stretchy fabric that is perfect for swimwear.
- Naturally occurring materials: Several other materials are being used in swimwear, including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and Tencel. These materials are all-natural and biodegradable, making them an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fabrics. These fabrics also require less water and energy to produce, reducing their carbon footprint.
- Other Sustainable Fabrics: Swimwear made from fabrics, such as linen and silk, is a sustainable option. These fabrics are lightweight, breathable, and soft, making them ideal for swimwear. They are also biodegradable and renewable, making them a great choice for those looking to reduce their impact on the environment.
These materials reduce plastic waste, require less energy to produce and promote biodegradability, making them a better choice for both the environment and consumers.
Swimwear is an essential part of any summer wardrobe, but the packaging it comes in often goes unnoticed. Unfortunately, most swimwear packaging is not sustainable and can contribute to the growing plastic waste crisis.
However, ethical manufacturing practices can help reduce the amount of plastic waste produced and curb the impact on the ocean.
When choosing swimwear, it’s essential to consider the packaging it comes in. Opting for brands that prioritize sustainable packaging can go a long way in reducing plastic waste. Ethical manufacturing, which prioritizes the protection of the planet and people, should also be a key consideration.
A significant portion of the plastic waste produced each year comes from packaging. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean. This bleak reality highlights the urgency of reducing plastic waste in all sectors, including swimwear.
Instead of traditional plastic bags, brands are exploring alternative packaging options, such as biodegradable materials or using recycled materials. For example, some companies are using compostable bags made from natural materials like cornstarch or paper.
Additionally, some companies have implemented innovative measures to reduce packaging waste. For example, some brands utilize minimum packaging options or use recycled and recyclable materials for their product packaging.
When choosing swimwear, consumers can also consider purchasing from brands that practice ethical manufacturing. This involves adopting environmentally-friendly business practices, such as using renewable energy and reducing waste.
Brands that choose ethical manufacturing prioritize the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Through their actions, they make a significant impact on reducing plastic waste and preventing harm to marine life. By choosing brands that prioritize sustainability and ethical manufacturing, consumers can make a positive impact, both for themselves and the planet.
Find out more in our article on how sustainable swimwear is the better alternative
Best Eco-swimwear brands on Amazon
Eco Swim by Aqua Green
Eco Swim™ by Aqua Green is more than just a swimwear brand – it’s a catalyst for ecological change. With a mission to reduce our collective carbon footprint in the sand, the company has taken bold steps to create environmentally-friendly swimwear that’s not only functional but also stylish. But the company’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t end there.
Aqua Green is actively involved in beach and waterway clean-up efforts to protect our oceans from pollutants and waste. Such initiatives have catapulted Eco Swim™ by Aqua Green to the forefront of the sustainable fashion industry, earning it a reputation for being a trailblazer ecologically.
- Uses sustainable materials such as recycled nylon, which is made from discarded fishing nets and other post-consumer waste, to make sustainable bathing suits
- Participation in beach and waterway cleanups to remove trash and protect the oceans.
- Uses eco-friendly fabrics like recycled nylon, polyamide, and polyester to make sustainable bathing suits.
- They are committed to continuous improvement and innovation in sustainability practices, with regular monitoring and reporting on progress toward sustainability goals.
- Minimal use of water and energy resources during the production process, with recycling and reuse of materials to reduce waste.
Size and Aesthetics:
- Sizing options range from XS, to XL. Thus accommodating a broad spectrum of body types.
- All swimwear is designed with improved support for comfort and confidence.
- Aesthetically, Eco Swim by Aqua Green offers solid and printed styles in soft, flattering colors.
- Removable and adjustable straps allow for versatile styling and optimal fit.
- Soft cups provide added support and shape without the use of harmful chemicals.
- Dry the swimwear in the shade, avoiding direct sunlight, and do not put it in a dryer or on a heater.
- Rinse the swimwear with cold water after each use to remove any chlorine, salt, or sand.
- Gently hand wash the swimwear separately in cool water using a mild detergent or white vinegar.
- Avoid using bleach, fabric softeners, and harsh chemicals as they can damage the fabric and fade the colors.
Price Range: The starting price is $15.
Outerknown is a sustainable swimwear brand that embodies the coastal spirit while preserving the environment. Their brand is committed to making a positive impact by partnering with non-profits that share our values and support meaningful causes.
With every purchase, customers help improve the livelihoods of workers in our supply chain through The Fairtrade Premium. Their commitment to sustainability is evident in the success of Outerworn, our resell platform that shows how 1818 pieces of Outerknown clothing have made their mark by being kept out of landfills.
They take pride in making high-quality swimwear that is beautiful and designed to last, ensuring that your purchase will benefit the environment for years to come.
- Outerknown sources materials from ethical swimwear suppliers committed to upholding sustainability standards.
- The brand only uses recycled textiles in its eco-friendly swimwear, reducing waste in the fashion industry.
- Outerknown has partnered with 8 other eco-friendly swimwear brands to create the Conscious Swim Collective, promoting sustainable practices.
- The brand utilizes low-impact dyes that minimize chemical run-off and avoids synthetic materials in production.
Size and Aesthetics:
- Provides maximum comfort, movement, and flexibility with a 4-way stretch fabric
- quick drying times and long-lasting durability with specially designed recycled polyester twill
- Achieve superior fit through the adjustable drawstring closure and comfortable elastic waistband
- Limited size options exclude plus-size customers
- Lack of diverse designs limits options for all customers
- Women are left with no swimwear options at all
- A narrow focus on neutral colors may not appeal to all customers
- While machine washing swimwear is possible, it is recommended to hand wash it.
Price Range: The starting price is $50
Recommended Product: Mens Apex Trunk by Kelly Slater Board Shorts
Alyned Together is a sustainable swimwear brand for women that offers a wide range of swimwear lines, from XS to XL sizes, made of recycled materials.
Their design philosophy is based on the idea that everyone should feel confident and comfortable in their swimwear, regardless of their size or shape.
With their all-inclusive collection, Alyned Together sets out to make a positive impact on the environment and the world of fashion by providing stylish and eco-friendly options for women of all sizes.
- Alyned Together uses sustainable materials such as recycled polyamide and ensures that all fabrics are certified by OKEO-TEX Standard 100.
- The swimwear brand is committed to reducing its overall footprint by using minimal labeling and tags. This helps to minimize waste and reduce the environmental impact of its products.
- Alyned Together ships its swimwear in biodegradable packaging which will biodegrade by 70% in just 40 days. This reduces the amount of waste generated and ensures that the brand operates in an environmentally responsible manner.
- All products are made with UPF 50+ protection, ensuring that they provide excellent sun protection while also being eco-friendly and sustainable.
Size and Aesthetics:
- Alyned Together offers swimwear in a wide range of sizes, from XS to 3X, ensuring that every woman can find a suit that fits her body comfortably.
- Their suits come in a variety of styles, including high-rise coverage, cut-out details, and molded bandeau cups, allowing women to choose a suit that complements their individual aesthetic preferences.
- Alyned Together’s suits also feature removable cups and adjustable straps, allowing women to customize their suits for comfort and support.
- Rinse the swimsuit with cool water after every use
- Gently hand wash the swimsuit with a mild detergent
- Do not use bleach or fabric softener
- Avoid scrubbing the swimsuit as it may cause damage
Price Range: The starting price is $20
Recommended Product: The Sabrina Eco-Friendly Swimsuit
Girlfriend Collective is an ethical and sustainable bra and sportswear brand for women, based in Seattle, Washington. Their commitment to the environment is evident as they only use OEKO-certified safe dyes, ensuring that their products don’t harm the water.
In addition to swimwear, they offer a wide range of vegan and size-inclusive yoga clothes and sustainable underwear. Girlfriend Collective is a trustworthy and affordable option for women who value ethical and sustainable fashion.
- All products are made with eco-friendly fibers, including ECONYL® regenerated nylon and recycled plastic bottles (RPET), to reduce the need for virgin materials and decrease waste in our environment.
- They use post-consumer plastic bottles which ensures a closed-loop system, where plastic waste is reused instead of ending up in landfills or oceans.
- Girlfriend Collective sources recycled fishing nets and other waste materials, leveraging circularity to reduce waste and regenerate marine ecosystems.
- They use OEKO-certified safe dyes, ensuring a safer and healthier work environment for their employees and preventing harmful chemicals from being released into the environment.
- Their commitment to sustainability extends to their packaging, which is made from 100% recycled and recyclable materials to reduce waste in the supply chain.
- With a UPF 45+ rating, their products provide excellent protection against harmful ultraviolet rays, promoting skin health and reducing the need for additional sunscreens that can harm marine life.
- By prioritizing recycled plastics and eco-friendly materials in their supply chain, Girlfriend Collective is taking meaningful steps toward a circular and sustainable future.
Size and Aesthetics:
- Sizes available in XS, S, M, L, XL, plus sizes to accommodate all body types
- Constructed with quality materials for a long-lasting and durable bra that can withstand vigorous exercise and an active lifestyle
- Aesthetically pleasing designs with a focus on sporty styles that can be worn both in the gym and as everyday wear
- Swim fabric options available for water sports and other aquatic activities, providing comfort and support while in the water
- Racerback and long-line silhouettes provide extra coverage and support for larger bust sizes
- Built-in support bands that double as added support for high-impact workouts
- Four-way stretch fabrics ensure a comfortable fit and maximum range of motion during exercise
- Wide variety of colors available to match individual styles and preferences
- For optimal care of your Girlfriend Collective bra and sportswear, turn them inside out before washing.
- Avoid using fabric softeners and bleach to prevent damage and color loss.
- To maintain the shape and fit, it is recommended to air dry your garments flat, away from direct sunlight.
- Always wash bras and sportswear in cold water with like colors to prevent bleeding.
Price Range: The starting price is $40
Recommended product: Girlfriend Collective Paloma Racerback Bra available in 4 colors.