What Is Sustainable Swimwear?

by: Rosie Dalton | 7 months ago | Features

Image: The Swim Good Banded One Piece by Good Studios, which is fairly and locally made from regenerated nylon.

Traditionally, swimwear has been made using plastic-derived fibres like nylon, which aren't built to biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment. Given that nylon boasts good performance qualities for stretch and movement, though, we still need to use it for swimwear – at least until something better is invented. Which is where recycled nylon comes in. A more sustainable alternative, recycled PET extends the lifecycle of existing nylon fibres and prevents the creation of new virgin plastics. 

Econyl, for example, is Aquafil’s 100% regenerated nylon yarn, which comes from pre- and post-consumer nylon waste like fishing nets and old carpets. While not a perfect solution, recycled PET does help to reduce the amount of new materials being made and therefore diverts pollution out of our oceans. Which is why it is used by our sustainable swimwear brands. 

Considering the negative environmental impacts of producing new plastic fibres, we are grateful that brands like Vege Threads and Feather Drum are using recycled PET for their sustainable swimwear. "Water pollution is a huge global issue," says Vege Threads designer Amy Roberts. "So knowing that there are ways to regenerate waste is something I feel needs to be celebrated more and encouraged to be the norm."

According to Living Circular, fibres like Econyl are a prime example of circular economy in action. Aquafil’s pioneering regeneration system allows nylon to be recycled almost infinitely without any decline in quality. This pioneering system uses a unique chemical process to create regenerated yarn from waste, while keeping the same characteristics of nylon. The waste material that would otherwise harm the environment is used to save precious fossil raw material that is normally used in the production of nylon. So if recycled properly, regenerated nylon can be a great fibre for products like swimwear.

For every 10,000 tons of Econyl created, 70 thousand barrels of crude oil are saved and 57 thousand tons of CO2 equivalent emissions are avoided. With our planet currently facing pretty dire straits in terms of climate change, this is a pretty good reason to shop sustainable swimwear this summer and help save our seas.

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