Picture by Ron Lach
The impact of your unsustainable swimsuit on the environment
11 July '22
Words by Sara Campidelli
Picture by Ron Lach
Do sustainable swimwear exists?
Buying a new swimsuit is definitely not an easy job.
Among all the options out there, it can be challenging to find the perfect intersection of colors that you like, good fit and comfort.
On top of it, you’re maybe wondering what impact swimsuits have on the environment and if sustainable swimwear exists, right?
Read below to find out.
“Synthetic fibers are petroleum oil based that do not biodegrade,
and release microfibers in washing water, the ocean and the land.”
“ This is why we have microfiber pollution affecting our food industry, with traces of microfibers in seafood, soil and the water we drink. ”
“There are however great options for high quality sustainable swimwear and user tips on reducing microfiber pollution when we wash our swimsuits.”
Picture by Ron Lach
Swimsuits are mostly made of synthetic fibers, like polyester and nylon blended with elastane. The reason is that these materials are lightweight, stretch around the body and wick moisture easily. This makes them very versatile fibers that are widely used in fashion, estimating 65 million tons of synthetic fabrics generated every year.
However, synthetic fibers are petroleum oil based that do not biodegrade,
and release microfibers in washing water, the ocean and the land. This is why we have microfiber pollution affecting our food industry, with traces of microfibers in seafood, soil and the water we drink.
As of today there is no biodegradable material yet that can effectively replace synthetic fibers and avoid microplastic pollution, although many companies are working on it.
There are however great options for high quality sustainable swimwear and user tips on reducing microfiber pollution when we wash our swimsuits.
Econyl and Repreve sustainable swimwear
Econyl and Repreve are yarns generated by recycled materials coming from plastic pollution in the landfill and the ocean. They are starting to be used by more and more sustainable swimwear brands.
Econyl is a regenerated nylon yarn made by the company Aquafil using nylon waste. It is different from regular recycled nylon because the process used to create the yarn allows infinite regeneration. This means that the quality of the regenerated yarn stays the same as virgin nylon.
Repreve is a recycled polyester yarn made by the company Unifi recycling PET from plastic bottles. They have developed a tracing technology that verifies that content reflects the recycled claims.
Staiy sustainable swimwear offers swimsuit brands that use Econyl and Repreve fabrics.
Syvende Swimwear is a Swedish brand that features beautiful swimsuits and beach accessories made with a blend of Econyl and elastane. The swimwear range varies from mono-chrome to multicolor prints or their signature stripe print. The brand supports NGO Ocean Clean-up fight against pollution by donating 5% of their sales.
Laara Swim is a Danish brand offering romantic yet durable sustainable swimwear. Using Econyl in all of their styles, the brand ensures that their swimsuits are resistant to chlorine and sun lotion, and that fit is comfortable and flattering.
A great option for men are Panareha swimsuits made in Repreve.
The Portuguese brand offers sustainable swimwear that is durable, quick drying, colorful and made in Portugal.
Image source: guppyfriend
Choosing the right swimsuit and caring for it
Microfiber pollution is generated by the deterioration of the material that comes with use and washing. Sun exposure and UV rays are also damaging your swimwear.
A high quality swimsuit should shed less microfibers, as it is more resistant to wear and tear, that’s why we recommend choosing sustainable swimwear.
If you care for it correctly you can further extend its lifetime.
Swimsuits normally do not need a machine wash. A gentle rinse is enough to remove chlorine and salt, and they can be dried hanging away from the sun. This is a safer way to avoid microfiber release.
The rubbing and tumbling that comes from machine washing is the biggest contributor to microfiber pollution. If you really need to machine wash your swimsuit, you can use some tools that help catch microfibers, like the Guppyfriend bag or the Cora Ball.
These tips are not only related to swimwear but to all clothes in general.
Wash only if needed with low temperature, hang to dry and use additional microfiber catching tools if possible.