Everyone loves swimming, but the environmental impact of swimwear production is not good news. Traditional swimwear fabrics like nylon, polyester, and spandex are not eco-friendly as they are derived from non-renewable resources, and they take a long time to biodegrade. Fortunately, various types of sustainable swimwear fabric are entering the market.
These fabrics are made from natural or recycled materials, which are not only eco-friendly but also provide better comfort, durability, and style. In this post, we’ll explore some types of sustainable swimwear fabric and discover why it’s the future of swimwear. Check out our post on sustainable swimwear brands if you just want to get to that!
What is Sustainable Swimwear Fabric?
Sustainable swimwear fabric is a type of swimwear material that is made from natural or recycled materials. The most common materials used for sustainable swimwear fabric are organic cotton, bamboo, recycled polyester, and ECONYL. [Yulex is an awesome sustainable material for wetsuits, and we’ve covered that in our post on the most sustainable wetsuits.]
These materials are eco-friendly because they require less energy, water, and chemicals to produce, and they are not super harmful to the environment when disposed of. Sustainable swimwear fabric can be used for all varieties of swimwear styles, including bikinis, one-pieces, and rash guards. Even to make sustainable maternity swimwear! Let’s find out more about the best fabric options for sustainable swimwear:
1 // ECONYL Swimwear Fabric
Econyl, a regenerated nylon, is produced using discarded materials such as fishing nets and waste from landfills and oceans. Through the process of regeneration, Econyl is able to maintain the same quality as virgin raw nylon, resulting in a durable and lightweight material that is highly resistant to both chlorine and UV rays.
What’s really cool about Econyl is that it can be infinitely recycled and transformed into new products. Plus, check this out: the production of 10,000 tons of Econyl prevents the emission of 57,100 tons of carbon dioxide and saves 70,000 barrels of crude oil.
How is ECONYL Made?
ECONYL employs a closed-loop regeneration process, starting with the collection of discarded waste from oceans and landfills worldwide, including the U.S., Canada, Greece, Egypt, etc. Only materials containing nylon, including used clothing, carpets, and fishing nets, are collected.
This nylon is then separated, cleaned, shredded, compacted, and taken to a waste treatment center, and then transported to ECONYL’s regeneration facility.
ECONYL Depolymerization happens next. This is a proprietary process that separates nylon’s six molecules and converts them back to their monomer state.
These monomers are then bonded together to form the nylon six polymer in ECONYL’s Polymerization process. (Remember high school chemistry: polymerization is the process of linking monomers to form polymers, and monomers are the simplest units of polymers.)
Next, the regenerated ECONYL material is sent to production facilities to be transformed into yarn for commercial use. This ECONYL yarn is used for the home interiors industry (carpets, curtains, etc) and for the fashion industry (activewear and swimwear, etc).
Finally, once ECONYL products reach the end of their lifecycle, the fabric can be regenerated and transformed into nylon once again.
ECONYL also offers advantages in terms of climate change: Compared to nylon made from oil, it reduces the global warming impact by up to 90%.
2 // REPREVE Fabric
REPREVE is a high-performance fiber created from recycled plastic bottles. The company behind REPREVE is Unifi, and they do a cool thing: They employ tracing technology to verify recycled content claims, in order to ensure the recycled content in their fabrics. Whoa!
Unifi says they have recycled over 34 billion plastic bottles in their 20 years of existence!
How is REPREVE Made?
The process of creating REPREVE fiber begins by collecting recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. These bottles are then sorted, cleaned, and chopped into flakes before being sent to the REPREVE recycling center. The recycling center is one of the most advanced facilities in the United States, where the bottle flakes are transformed into REPREVE chips and stored in massive silos. Each silo has the capacity to hold the equivalent of 27 million recycled bottles.
Next, the REPREVE chips are blended, melted, and extruded to create the unique REPREVE fiber. This fiber boasts inherent performance properties, such as moisture-wicking, thermal regulation, odor control, cushioning, and resilience.
Finally, the REPREVE fiber is transformed into fabric and used to create a wide variety of products, including activewear and car interiors.
REPREVE® is transparent, traceable and certified.
3 // Amni Soul Eco Thread
So far, we’ve looked at recycled materials. But what if your fabric were biodegradable? That’s what Amni Soul Eco Thread, a biodegradable polyamide, is about.
What’s Special About Amni Soul Eco Thread
The creators of Amni Soul Eco Thread have taken a unique approach by considering the end-of-life for their yarns. They have developed the world’s first polyamide yarn that is both recyclable and biodegradable. Although this yarn is as strong and long-lasting as other polyamide yarns, it will biodegrade into organic matter and biogas within 5 years, making it an eco-friendly option. This process is facilitated by the yarn’s ability to allow bacteria to digest waste materials and speed up the biodegradation process in anaerobic landfills.
Amni Soul Eco Thread has been designed to break down at a faster rate in anaerobic landfills (where there is a lack of oxygen). The biodegradation process is expedited by enabling bacteria to consume the waste materials. This means Amni Soul Eco garments that have been disposed of in landfills can quickly decompose into organic matter and biogas.
The fabric qualities of Amni Soul Eco includes softness, comfort, dyeing quality, breathability, and easy care.
Brands Making Swimwear with Amni Soul Eco
1 / BOLD Swim
4 // Recycled PET Fabric
Recycled polyester (or, Recycled PolyEthylene Terephthalate aka RPET), which is composed of waste materials such as used plastic bottles, is a sturdy and long-lasting material. It has the ability to wick away moisture and dry quickly, making it a great choice for swimwear.
RPET fabric is created by breaking down post-consumer plastics, including plastic water bottles. This production process results in significantly fewer carbon emissions than creating new PET fabric and also serves the purpose of diverting plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean.
Furthermore, RPET fabric is almost indistinguishable in quality from virgin polyester fabric, meaning that it has a long lifespan and is more environmentally friendly.
How is RPET Made?
RPET can be created through two different methods.
The first method involves washing and shredding discarded plastics, which are then re-spun using the same process used to create textiles and apparel from virgin polyester.
The second method is chemical recycling, in which the plastics are broken down into their individual components and then reconstructed into fibers that are identical to those found in virgin polyester.
Brands Making Recycled Polyester Swimwear
3 / Wolven
5 // Hemp Swimwear Fabric
Is Hemp a Good Material for Swimwear?
Bamboo is an ideal material for swimwear due to its natural properties. Bamboo possesses natural antibacterial qualities, and it is also hypoallergenic and has the ability to wick away moisture, all making it ideal for use in swimwear. Besides, it is a renewable resource that grows quickly and requires less water and pesticides than traditional cotton.
Brands Making Hemp Swimwear
1 / Natasha Tonic
2 / Hemp Huggers
6 // Organic Cotton Fabric
Is Organic Cotton a Good Material for Swimwear?
Organic cotton is also, surprisingly, great for use in swimwear. It is soft, breathable, and comfortable. Plus, organic cotton grown without the use of harmful chemicals is ideal for the environment.
Brands Making Organic Cotton Swimwear
1 / LUZ Swimwear
2 / Rawganique (Men’s)
3 / Akoia
4 / She Made Me
Features to Look for in Sustainable Swimwear Fabric
When choosing sustainable swimwear, look for these features in the fabric:
1 / UV protection
Look for swimwear made with fabrics that provide UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
2 / Chlorine resistance
If you plan to swim in a pool, choose a fabric that is chlorine-resistant to prevent fading and damage.
3 / Breathability
Choose fabrics that are breathable and moisture-wicking to keep you comfortable and cool in hot weather.
4 / Eco-friendly production
Look for swimwear made with fabrics that are produced in an environmentally-friendly way, using less water, energy, and chemicals.
5 / Ethical production
Choose swimwear from brands that prioritize fair labor practices and ethical production standards.
Tips for Caring for Sustainable Swimwear Fabric
To ensure your sustainable swimwear fabric lasts as long as possible, follow our easy swimsuit care tips.
FAQs About Sustainable Swimwear Fabric
1 / Is sustainable swimwear fabric more expensive than traditional swimwear fabric?
It depends on the brand and the type of sustainable fabric used. While some sustainable swimwear brands may be more expensive, many offer affordable options that are comparable in price to traditional swimwear.
2 / Is sustainable swimwear fabric less durable than traditional swimwear fabric?
No, sustainable swimwear fabric is often more durable and long-lasting than traditional swimwear fabric. Many sustainable fabrics are designed to withstand the harsh elements of the ocean, sun, and chlorine, and maintain their shape and color for longer.
3 / Are there any downsides to choosing sustainable swimwear fabric?
The only potential downside to choosing sustainable swimwear fabric is that it may not be as widely available as traditional swimwear fabric. However, as the demand for sustainable fashion grows, more and more brands are offering sustainable swimwear options.
This post was about sustainable swimwear fabric
Sustainable swimwear is not just a trend, it’s the future of swimwear. By choosing eco-friendly and ethical options, we can reduce our impact on the environment and support sustainable fashion. With a variety of materials, styles, and features to choose from, there’s a sustainable swimwear option for everyone. We hope this post was helpful in showing you what to look for!
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NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.