People are becoming more and more aware of their individual impact on the environment. Increased understanding of carbon footprints has encouraged people to become more conscious of what they consume.
Unfortunately, one of the largest contributors to the collective rise of CO2 emissions is the fashion industry. Because of this, you might be looking for new ways to shop that reduce your own carbon footprint and are easier on the environment.
One of the most common ways to shop sustainably is to shop second-hand. Thrift stores are often packed full of high-quality pieces that are looking for a second home. While second-hand shopping is a wonderful way to give old pieces new life, a thrift store might not have everything you want or need.
While it’s easy to pick up a loose-fitting sweater at a thrift store, swimwear sits tightly on your body and needs to fit you like a glove. You will most likely need a more personalized shopping experience for swimwear than browsing in the thirst store, so consider looking for alternative materials to make shopping for swimwear sustainable.
What Is Sustainable Swimwear?
Traditional swimwear is usually made from some type of plastic, such as nylon, polyester, and Spandex. These materials are ideal for swimwear since they are moisture-wicking, stretchy, and inexpensive to make. However, these plastics are not biodegradable, meaning they will sit in landfills and oceans forever, clogging our planet and harming marine life.
While many brands have discovered natural, biodegradable fabrics to use for clothing, a biodegradable fabric that has all of the qualities needed for a swimsuit is still yet to be widely used. Because of this, brands dedicated to sustainability have turned to recycled plastic for their swimwear.
While most of these new sustainable pieces are still not biodegradable, they give new life to old materials and keep tons of plastic out of landfills every year.
Sustainable Swimwear: The Fabrics
Designers have discovered a few different materials to utilize when creating swimwear. Here are some of the most popular repurposed materials:
What Is Recycled Nylon?
Also known as Eco Nylon or ECONYL, this material is predominantly sourced from fishing lines and carpets. Andie Swim, like many other swimwear lines dedicated to sustainability, uses recycled nylon to make their sustainable swimwear.
After collecting the old material, the production process begins a four-step process to turn these plastics into a version that is chemically identical to virgin nylon. While there is still a manufacturing process involved, it is estimated that the emissions of creating Eco Nylon are 90% lower than those of producing virgin nylon.
Additionally, the Eco Nylon used to create the swimwear can be endlessly recycled back into different swimwear, Eco Nylon yarn, or other new products.
Andie Swim uses Eco Nylon to create swimwear because recycling fishing lines helps further the health of the ocean, and Eco Nylon is a study material that will feel just like virgin nylon on your body.
What Is Recycled Polyester?
If you have ever seen a piece of clothing advertised as being made from plastic water bottles, it is made from recycled polyester. Polyester has a plethora of useful material benefits, such as durability and strength. These benefits stay with the materials as it is broken down into small bits, melted into pellets, formed into yarn, and used to make your swimwear.
Polyester is a wasteful material to create: This process requires a ton of water, chemicals, and fossil fuels. The production process is toxic to water and air quality.
An enormous amount of polyester already exists in our world, so repurposing polyester to create something is considered to be an act of sustainability. In fact, repurposing polyester creates 75% fewer COs emissions than creating virgin polyester.
Yulex is an innovative material that is relatively new in the fashion industry that is made from natural rubber harvested from rubber trees. As of now, it is the only plant-based alternative to petroleum and limestone-based materials.
It uses less CO2 during the manufacturing process compared to synthetic fibers, but it is still able to maintain most of the benefits of nylon, Spandex, etc. Its most attractive feature is its biodegradability, which is extremely beneficial for the environment.
Yulex is not widely available or commonly used yet, so most brands are still sticking to recycled materials.
Many production companies prefer to use natural fibers because they are biodegradable and have less of an impact on our environment. Fibers like wool and cotton decompose over the years and release much fewer levels of CO2 than synthetic materials.
Natural fibers simply do not have the features needed to create a practical and comfortable swimsuit. While some brands are attempting to reinvent cotton and hemp to make them more water-resistant and flexible, these swimsuits still feel noticeably different.
When slipping on a cotton bathing suit and taking a dip in the water, you might notice it has quickly lost its shape and holds onto water rather than wicking it away. While a future might exist where natural materials can be engineered to mimic synthetic fibers, the most realistic sustainable option as of today is using recycled materials.
What Is Greenwashing?
Nowadays, labeling a garment as “recycled” or “sustainable” is commonly used just as a marketing ploy called greenwashing. Companies understand that people are desperate to lower their impact on the environment, and they capitalize on this desire. If you are looking for a sustainable swimsuit, be sure to do an in-depth look at the product.
If something claims to be made from recycled materials, check the percentage of virgin vs. recycled material in the swimsuit. While it’s sometimes unavoidable for brands to use virgin plastic, there is a large difference between a swimsuit that is made up of 70% recycled and one that is only 10% recycled material.
At Andie Swim, our sustainable swimwear is made up of a significant majority of recycled materials, which dramatically reduces the CO2 emissions in production and works to protect our planet.
How To Care For Recycled Swimwear
When we care for swimwear properly, we can reduce the microplastics released from a swimsuit and extend its life for as long as possible. The first, and most important step, is to hand wash your garments.
Hand washing will reduce the number of microplastics released and give you better control over the temperature. Always hand-wash your sustainable swimwear in cold water rather than warm or hot.
Try to use as little detergent as possible, and avoid using fabric softener, which can break down the fabric over tie. Once you are finished washing your swimwear, lay them out to dry away from the sun.
Lastly, while wearing your swimwear, try to avoid chemical sunscreens and opt for natural options instead. Harsh chemicals can degrade your swimwear which will cause damage to marine environments.
- Environmental tip: hand washing is best for garments for several reasons, including reducing the number of microplastics that could be released into our waterways. For additional environmental protection, wash swimsuits in a guppy bag. Guppy bags help prevent microplastics from escaping into the water if you must wash them in a machine.
Our Most Popular Sustainable Options
Here at Andie Swim, we have an extensive collection of swimwear pieces made from recycled materials. We have a commitment to sustainability and to protecting the marine environments that we all treasure. We also want to feel confident and stylish as we head out to our tropical getaways — fashion and environmentalism can coexist as flawlessly as your favorite hat and swimsuit.
If you are looking for a classic one-piece with a little extra flare, the Asbury is the piece for you! This sporty-chic suit features a high neck for secure but not restricting medium-level bust supports. The sportiness of the front is balanced with the flirtiness of the open back.
The medium bottom coverage and medium leg cut will show the perfect amount of skin, and the adjustable straps will guarantee a flawless fit.
For a flirty yet modest one-piece, pick up the Belmar for your next sustainable swimwear choice. Featuring a flirty v-neck crossover neckline, you can rely on maximum bust support for full security and protection. The low leg cut and full bottom coverage will ensure everything is covered, but the removable tie waist adds an element of fun and fashion.
Made from 76% recycled nylon and available in five stunning colors, you don’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability.
An effortless look with a surprising twist in the center, the Capri is far from ordinary. This one-piece with thick straps and a deep-V neck will give you medium bust support, and the ruched waist will look flattering on every body type.
The medium bottom coverage and medium leg cut will accentuate your curves, and the variety of color and pattern options are sure to work with your personal style.
If you need to add a staple piece to your wardrobe that you can pull out for any occasion, be sure to pick up the Atlantic. This dependable piece features thick, adjustable straps and a flirty scoop neckline.
The full bottom coverage and low leg cut will be appropriate for any setting, and the high support will keep you in place even during the occasional sand volleyball game or when jumping in the waves.
The Belmar Top
For an elegant bikini top that is sure to make you feel confident, try out the Belmar top. The deep, plunging neckline with a twisted center will highlight your chest while still providing you with medium bust support. The adjustable straps will fit any body type, and the thick back band lets you run after the kids without worrying about coverage.
A suit that can be sporty or stylish, the Malibu has you covered for any occasion. The high, snap-front neckline can be opened or closed as you please, giving you the option for a full coverage, active look, or a lower coverage, sexy look. When just a few snaps are done up, the suit gives your body maximum bust support, which will come in handy for any beach activities you have planned.
The medium leg cut and medium bottom coverage are modest without feeling too constricting. This suit, made from 76% recycled materials, comes in seven different colors and two pattern options, leaving you with plenty of room to experiment with your taste in swimwear.
A dramatic and retro-chic option, the Luzon is the bombshell swimsuit of your dreams. The high neck and halter top sets the stage for the open back of this swimsuit to shine. The removable cups and medium bust support will keep you feeling secure, and the low leg cut and full bottom coverage will perfectly balance the skin showing on your back.
A Sustainable Swim
Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t enough one person can do to help protect the environment. So many problems are out of our control, and it can feel intimidating to try and help as just one person. However, something that will directly help conserve the environment and lower the number of plastics sitting in our landfill and oceans is to shop sustainably.
Be sure to rely on Andie Swim when picking out your next swimsuit to find options that are majorly composed of recycled materials to do your part in protecting our planet.
What Is Your Carbon Footprint? | The Nature Conservancy
Why Isn't Plastic Biodegradable? | OSU
What Is Greenwashing? How It Works, Examples, and Statistics | Greenwashing
Analysis of virgin and recycled nylon 11 in HFIP using the EcoSEC GPC system and semi-micro gel permeation chromat | Tosoh Bioscience