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Why Sustainable Swimwear Matters

by: Rosie Dalton | 8 months ago | Features

Image: the Lines One Piece by Kowtow

Conventional swimwear isn’t kind to our environment. Made using virgin synthetics derived from plastic, traditional swimwear is not built to biodegrade. Not only do these pieces take decades to break down in nature, but their production process also has a significant impact. So sustainable swimwear matters.

“Nylon is derived from coal and petroleum,” writes Good On You. “In addition to supporting some of the world’s dirtiest industries, [its] manufacture has several other direct environmental impacts.” Those impacts include the dangerous release of a greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Greenhouse gas emissions are just one part of nylon’s negative environmental impact, though. Manufacturing this fibre is also very water- and energy-intensive. Not only does the process contribute to environmental and water pollution; it has also been linked to global warming. Virgin nylon is bad for the planet, basically. And when swimming in nature, we like to minimise our impact wherever possible.

Enter recycled nylon. Over recent years, Econyl has revolutionised the swimwear landscape with its innovative recycled nylon. “It is a regenerated [fabric] consisting of pre- and post-consumer waste material, including fishing nets,” explains Kowtow founder Gosia Piatek. “Econyl is incredible because it can be recycled indefinitely without losing fabric quality.”

Other sustainable swim labels like Good Studios and Baaby also use recycled nylon instead of virgin – which helps minimise emissions and divert waste from landfill, to reduce overall impact. When choosing a bikini upcycled from fishing nets, then, we are proud to wear the waste that’s been salvaged from our oceans.

From a technical perspective, nylon is one of the few fibres currently durable and flexible enough for making swimwear that lasts. In future years, though, we hope innovative companies will invent a more sustainable alternative. Until then, we’re choosing recycled nylon over virgin synthetics. Because we usually wear swimwear when we're enjoying nature, it’s important to us that said swimwear minimises environmental impact.

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