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Sustainable swimwear on your next spa break

Fashion has often been derided as one of the worst offenders when it comes to contributing to pollution and generally not being environmentally friendly. The reasons for that are far reaching - ranging from working conditions in factories to waste, energy consumption, throwaway fashion and material production. However, swimwear has a particular role to play in this. So in the spirit of wellbeing for all, how can spa goers make sustainable swimwear choices?

sustainable swimwear - sea swim

What makes swimwear unsustainable?

The problem is threefold:

  • The volume of production
  • The materials used
  • What happens when we wash swimming costumes

Harriet Vocking, Chief Brand Officer at Eco-Age, told the Evening Standard:

“Swimwear is usually made from petroleum oil-based synthetic materials which is problematic for several reasons, including the fact that oil is a rapidly depleting natural resource, which can cause environmental pollution during extraction and fibre production and it also does not biodegrade at the end of its life.”

Meanwhile, washing these synthetic fibres means shedding small plastic pieces called microfibers into the water system. Even swimming in the sea whilst wearing them can add to the micro plastics in the water. Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur’s 2018 report predicted that ‘by 2050, 22 trillion tones of synthetic microfibres will have been released into our oceans.’

Even if you don’t know a lot about micro plastics, or have context for those figures, it doesn’t sound great.

Sustainable swimwear brands

The gold standard of sustainable swimwear is looking to the brands that are making our clothing out of materials that are either removing damaging waste materials from the environment, or that don’t damage the environment at all. They also tend to focus on being long-lasting rather than throwaway fashion - which is excellent on lots of fronts.

For example, Davy J, the UK based sustainable and ethical swimwear brand, makes its clothing out of regenerated nylon yarn from waste including spent and ghost fishing nets (it’s estimated and average of 640,000 tons fishing nests are left in the ocean each year, and for every ton collected, more than 10,000 swimsuits can be made!).

Vanessa Sposi is another option - they are committed to sourcing materials from regenerative, organic, renewable and recycled sources. Or you might like to try luxury sustainable swimwear brand, Lula-Ru. They source material from Eurojersey, a company that follows every stage of the fabric production cycle in order to reduce waste and water, energy, and chemical usage. 

What else can you do?

It’s all well and good us telling you to go out and buy more stuff, but by the same token buying new things when we don’t need to is also part of the sustainability problem. So until your existing swimwear wears out, what else can you do to be more environmentally friendly?

  • Buy less, wear more - focus on quality over quantity
  • Try to make swimwear last - you can rinse in the sink instead of putting it in the washing machine every time if it doesn’t need it, for example.
  • Use Guppyfriend wash bags - they act as a filter to stops microfibres escaping into the water system, so you can pop them in the bin instead.
  • Use sustainable washing detergents that help preserve fibres - such as Kair

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