Sustainable clothing has been called an oxymoron. Fashion changes at lightening speeds and clothes sometimes just worn a few times are discarded. However, some designers are trying to shift their processes and use more eco-friendly materials. As temperatures are rising and summer is upon us, many of you may be in the market for new swimwear. Traditionally, swimwear is made from lycra, spandex, and polyester. The use of these materials versus cotton is debatable. While polyester requires more energy to be produced and is harder to recycle, it needs less upkeep (like washing) in its lifetime. Cotton uses less energy, but needs to be washed more over a lifetime. One study called the textiles “one of the most un-sustainable products in the world.” While others think polyester is the new way to be fashionable and more eco conscious.
While the debate rages, and you make up your own mind, you may be shopping for swimwear. Here’s some eco-friendly swimwear options to consider. Keep in mind women’s swimwear has a much larger market than men’s wear so most of the links below are for ladies. Don’t worry guys, here’s a great resource for your swimwear needs too!
Becca has a line of “ECO” wear that is made of “vegetable cashmere,” a soy fabric made from soy pulp which is a byproduct of tofu soy oil production. The fabric has been said to be luxurious and breathable.
BTC Elements has range of swimwear. Each suit is made of bamboo, organic cotton, and spandex; the breakdown is given on the website. BTC Elements claims that “everything” they carry is environmentally friendly. BTC Elements is a member of 1% For The Planet, an organization of companies that donate 1% of sales to environmental organizations.
Aaron Chang The swimwear in these collections is made from recycled polyester. Chang takes items like post consumer bottles and turns them into polyester. Additionally, all cotton based garments are made of organic cotton.
Eco-Panda probably offers the most budget friendly options. Suits sold here are made from about 82% recycled materials from post consumer nylon fishing nets. Eco-Panda says that “recycled nylon uses 27% less natural petroleum resources, and emits 28% less greenhouse gases during the manufacturing process.” Eco-Panda offers cover-ups and accessories as well, but no word on related recycled content.
Nikster suits are made of soy, organic cotton, bamboo, and other natural fibers. Additionally 5% of their gross sales are donated to organizations that work to save sea turtles. Product descriptions tell you what material specific suits are made of and there’s also cover-ups and other accessories available.
Looking for more? Check out Treehugger’s lastest selections of eco-friendly swimwear.