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How The Clothing We Wear Affects The Beaches We Love

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 years ago | Features

Image: Ebony wears the Georgia One-Piece in Milk White by Her the Label at Bondi, Sydney. Check out our Summer Series here.

Oceans make up approximately 70% of the planet's surface, so it's little surprise that they actually have a fairly major impact on the way things operate as well. From marine ecosystems to global weather patterns, these bodies of water account for a great deal. But what about our impact on those oceans themselves? The reality is that human beings have a significant impact on the maintenance of healthy ocean systems and, for the most part, that impact has been overwhelmingly negative of late. 

Over recent years we've seen a steep rise in both ocean temperatures and sea levels, which has the very scary potential to throw everything out of whack. And has anyone else noticed that it has been unseasonably warm for this time of year? Well beyond switching to renewable energy sources and monitoring our carbon footprint, we can also help address these issues through our summer wardrobe choices. So here are three of the key ways what you wear to the beach impacts upon the swimming spots you love – and how you can minimise your impact this summer.

1) Quantity over quality clothing is polluting our water sources
The problem with garments that focus on quantity over quality is that this same mentality also extends right down to the smallest details. Consider beachwear that has been given its brilliant hue through the use of azo dyes, for example. Azo dyes contain known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, which inevitably work their way into local water sources. So is it really any wonder, then, that fashion is considered the second biggest polluter of clean water? If you want to stop contributing to the pollution of beautiful water sources – and the subsequent impacts this can have on the ecosystem as a whole – then opt for quality over quantity when it comes to your swimwear this summer.

2) Synthetic plastics are strangling our seas
A shocking new study recently revealed that most of the world’s water actually contains tiny particles of plastic. And synthetic materials like polyester and lycra are a major contributing factor here. Even though you mightn’t be aware of when it’s happening, wearing lycra swimmers in the ocean, or washing them at home, can cause tiny microparticles to break off and make their way back into the beach ecosystems that we love so dearly. Which is devastating for marine life and the normal functioning of these delicate systems. Swimwear does require a certain amount of stretch though – and there is already lots of synthetic fibres in the world – so a good way to both reduce your waste and minimise your contribution to microplastics at the same time is to shop swimwear that's made from recycled lycra instead. 

3) Wasteful production means more water is wasted too 
I don’t know about you, but I love tossing simple cotton separates on over my swimmers in summertime. But do you ever stop to think twice about how much waste your beachwear is actually contributing to your favourite swimming spots? The fact of the matter is that when clothing and swimwear is made using wasteful production methods, this results in both more products clogging up landfill and more water needed to create those garments in the first place. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), for example, “it can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans.” So before you toss on your white cotton tee and denim cut-offs over your one-piece this summer, think twice about whether your beach look was made with minimal waste in mind. And prioritise sustainable beachwear wherever possible.


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