Traditional swimwear fabrics are made from synthetic, plastic-based materials such as nylon and polyester. Producing them takes large amounts of water and energy, plus they don’t biodegrade. They’re not very beach-friendly. Thankfully there is a new generation of sustainable swimwear brands just waiting for you to discover it.
Because of the properties we like our swimwear to have, natural fibres are a no-no. But there’s a growing market in sustainable products made from recycled or eco-friendly fibres. And there are two main types.
Econyl fibres are made from discarded products including landfill waste, discarded fishing nets and carpet offcuts.
Repreve fibres are one of the world’s most popular recycled materials. They’re made from plastic bottles and are used in a variety of products as well as swimwear.
Sustainable clothes are often more expensive to produce than their fast-fashion counterparts. Companies pay their workers fairly and carefully choose the materials they work with. This is great, but it pushes up the buying price of eco-friendly swimwear.
But while sustainable swimwear brands may be more expensive, they tend to be better quality than fast fashion items, and they last longer.
So let’s take a look at some UK sustainable swimwear brands doing their bit for the environment.
We Are We Wear (WAWW)
WAWW uses eco-friendly, GRS (Global Recycled Standards)-certified fabrics. This brand promotes self-confidence and stocks inclusive sizes in a variety of styles. Its aim is to constantly improve and be completely sustainable by 2023.
Batoko is a small company based on the northwest coast of England. It uses discarded plastic from the ocean to produce its bold, eye-catching prints. Producing small batch sizes means it focuses on the quality of each design. It also means Batoko doesn’t over-produce and create damaging waste, unlike many larger brands.
Finisterre uses econyl to make its swimwear. This certified B-Corp is committed to the planet and its people. The brand uses compostable and recyclable packaging. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, it also boasts a repair service, meaning you can keep your items for longer than ever.
Noma creates swimwear for children made from discarded fishing nets and plastic items collected from the ocean. It promotes recycling programs and donates one percent of its annual turnover to Healthy Seas, an organisation that collects waste nets and helps them become valuable resources.
RubyMoon doesn’t use petroleum in its swimwear production. Instead, the company uses waste nylon and plastics, designing items that last longer and create less waste. RubyMoon doesn’t exploit its workers. And it donates 100 percent of its profits in the form of loans to female entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries.
Davy J is another company making swimsuits out of ocean waste. With their double-lining and high elastane content, Davy J products are built to last. And all that extra strength, shape and durability means excellent value in the long run. Davy J is working towards a closed-loop resource system. That means that when your swimwear wears out, you can return it for reuse and recycling.
It’s crucial that more swimwear brands (and all clothing brands for that matter) move towards more eco-friendly fabrics. There’s enough plastic waste in the environment to be turned into something useful. But this will only happen if there’s a market for it. So if you want to do your bit for the environment, keep up the pressure and buy sustainably!