featured sustainable beachwear

Sustainable beachwear for women by women

We women go through tens if not hundreds of bikinis and bathing suits during our lifetimes. In my case I grew up far from the beach and can count my beach holidays on one hand. But I know for sure that I must have worn out over a hundred of the two types of beachwear combined.
My mom alone has an impressive collection. Last time I visited my mom in Belgium she gave me 7 bikinis of hers. I happily wear them, because they’ve never been used.
One might think that the small amount of fabric that goes into a bikini can do no harm. Because they are such intimate items, it is difficult to pass them on. I hate it each time I throw one into the garbage bin for lack of further use.

Traditional beachwear fabric

Traditional swimwear fabric is composed of 100% man-made fibers. Natural fibers such as cotton will absorb water, making it an impractical choice. Most fabrics used for swimwear are composed of nylon (from 80% to 90%) but also have a significant amount of Lycra or spandex (10% to 20%).

Polyester fabric, whether blended with Lycra® or by itself,  is the leading fabric for competitive swimwear. The reason for that is simple :  ever new technologies in polyester have improved the hand and feel of the material, allowing it to surpass other fabrics. Polyester also holds its color and is resistant to chlorine, commonly used in swimming pools to kill germs.

Say no to polyester !

Polyester is a synthetic petroleum-based fibre, and is therefore made from a carbon-intensive non-renewable resource. Petroleum products are used as feedstock (raw material to make the fibre) and also used to generate the energy needed to manufacture. More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year.

It is not bio-degradable and will persist in the eco-system even as it eventually breaks apart. In fact, it is believed that synthetic garments are the biggest source of micro plastic pollution in the oceans because up to 1900 fibres can be washed off one garment every time it is washed.

Although it is less energy intensive than nylon to produce, it still requires more than double the energy of conventional cotton to produce. The production of polyester uses harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, and if emitted to water and air untreated, can cause significant environmental damage.

Most polyester is produced in countries such as China, Indonesia and Bangladesh where environmental regulations are lax, and air and water pollution is often discharged untreated, resulting in significant pollution and harm to communities in the vicinity of (as well as downstream and downwind of) manufacturing plants.

The water-intensity of production is much lower than for natural fibres. However, polyester cannot be dyed using low impact and natural dyes. This means that the detrimental impact on water supplies is potentially far greater. ( for the complete article on ‘The environmental impacts of polyester “)

Finding an alternative material

With conventional swimwear causing a huge burden on our planet, it’s time to change our fashion choices.

The good news is that you don’t have to give up being sexy on the beach by shopping for eco-friendly beachwear. But first …

What are eco-friendly bathing suits made of?

When you think of eco-friendly swimwear, you think of organic cotton and natural fibers, but these are a no-go when it comes to swimwear! Cotton swimsuits absorb water which isn’t great for swimming.

What better way to make sustainable beachwear than reusing materials which share the same qualities needed for making high-quality swimwear as polyester, but do no harm.

  • Econyl is regenerated nylon made from waste like fishing nets, old carpets, and industrial plastic from landfills and the ocean. The nylon is recovered and recycled back to its original purity, meaning it has the same properties as virgin nylon. This is one of the best fabrics for swimwear.
  • Repreve® is a polyester fiber made from 100% recycled plastic. This means that this high-performance fiber is gained from recycled plastic bottles that are collected, sorted, baled, cleaned, chopped into flakes, melted, and extruded to make this unique bikini fabric.
Using recycled swimsuit material saves raw materials and energy as well as prevents wastage. The following all female-owned brands  will leave you no choice.

Female owned sustainable beachwear brands

BOLD Swim

Bold Swimwear

 I started BOLD Swim, to empower women through beautifully designed bespoke swimwear. Being BOLD means to celebrate what it means to be a woman. Showcase our strength, sensuality and playfulness through soft textiles, saturated colors, and a variety of silhouettes.
When I think of the type of designer I am. I am drawn to the minimal designs, saturated colors and luxury fabrics. I understood immediately the need for sustainability as a lifestyle swim brand. My collection goes beyond the sustainability of the fabric, and process. It is designed with versatility in mind for the modern world.”
Tiffany Broadway
 
BOLD Swim is precisely what it sounds like: swimwear for the bold, unafraid, and unapologetic woman. With luxury fabric sourced from Brazil, these swimsuits are nontoxic, biodegradable, and UV protected. Moreover, the brand is size-inclusive, with colorful and cute one-pieces and bikinis in sizes up to XXXL.
BOLD Swim uses Amin Soul Eco Thread, a biodegradable nylon fabric manufactured in Brazil which is both eco-friendly and soft to the touch. BOLD Swim’s light and breathable signature fabric ensures a great fit and is intentionally designed to degrade in landfill conditions, which is pretty incredible. The fabric requires minimal water in the production process and is made exclusively with non-toxic dyes. Even the excess dead stock fabric waste from the production of BOLD Swim’s suits are up-cycled into rugs and mats made by local artisans and sold locally in Brazil.
 
BOLD swim is a women-owned and person of color owned business. Founder Tiffany Broadway is a black woman who identifies herself as part of the African American community and is proud to be part of the Black Women Founders.
 

BIKINI EMPIRE

Bikini Empire

 
Bikini Empire is a collaboration between twin sisters Kelsey and Monica Rush. Together they work on all aspects of the business, from the designs, to the photoshoot concepts, and running their online store.
 
Monica lives full time in the Dominican Republic while Kelsey lives on Gabriola Island, Canada, where she has been involved in the Canadian cannabis industry for the past 8 years.
 
Bikini Empire and Social and Environmental Sustainability
 
Their swimwear is being manufactured in Bali with a company that is entirely dedicated to fair business practices, high wages ( up to 3 times the local standard ), outstanding working conditions, and environmental sustainability. 10 cents from every bikini is donated to ROLE foundation. “ROLE Foundation runs a zero waste facility and environmental development programs in Bali. Their vision supports zero waste to oceans, sustainable businesses for coastal communities, and women’s business education and development.
 
The Green on The Beach editors endorse products we genuinely love. If you end up making a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a commission. Learn more here.
 

ISLA de GRACIA … Latin America in fashion Paris

Isla de Gracia
Owners and founders Marbelys & Nathalie were both born in Caracas, Venezuela and shared a dream: to create a little piece of Latin America in the Parisian fashion landscape, to create a moment of escape for women around the world. That’s how they founded ISLA de GRACIA.
The brand aspires to preserve the know-how of ancient Latin American cultures through the production of part of the pieces from the collection by artisans from different countries of Latin America: e.g. artisans from a small village in the Colombian countryside weave vegetable fiber by hand perpetuating family traditions dating back several generations!
 
ISLA DE GRACIA swimsuits are designed with Econyl, a recycled nylon thread with a fabric certified “confidence in Textile – OEKO-TEX®” ensuring you a swimsuit without harmful substances, resistant to chlorine, sea water and Sun.
 
Isla de Gracia launched its first swimwear collection for the Spring-Summer of 2020 . In order to collect inspiration for their first collection ‘Fleur D’Enfance’ , the whole team took a trip to Colombia to meet with the artisans who created the accessories and dresses of their first collection.
 

ISLA de LOBOS … very much Argentina

Isla de Lobos beachwear

“Isla de Lobos is the right balance between yesterday and tomorrow. Modern like no other, sexy as god commands and uber-cool, as every fashionista wants to be.”
 
IDL is the most prominent eco-friendly swimwear brand in Argentina. The name pays tribute to a beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay, where Argentine born founder and designer Sofía Curi spent a lot of time during her childhood. Trained in London, she returned to Buenos Aires after 13 years residing abroad.
 
Back in Argentina, she started Isla de Lobos, a swimwear brand whose materials come from approximately 60% of nets and plastic bottles collected from the coasts and oceans. But IDL is more than a brand using recycled materials. In addition, the designer reuses each piece of fabric or color swatch or donates them to NGOs and charities that can make use of it. And finally, she practices “design ethics“: she seeks to generate garments that can be re-used over and over again because the collections transcend seasons and the new items can be combined with others from previous years.
 
The Green on The Beach editors endorse products we genuinely love. If you end up making a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a commission. Learn more here.
 

FLORITA

Florita Beachwear

Brazilian born former actress Júlia Almeida-Bailey founded FLORITA after she decided to settle permanently in London from where the brand is managed & commercialized. Her swimwear line is entirely eco-friendly: made with Amni Soul ®, it is biodegradable from the inside out! FLORITA’s commitment to the environment & its Brazilian roots breathes through every collection. A crucial part of FLORITA’s philosophy is building real and lasting relationships with suppliers and manufacturers and the communities they support in order to grow together.
 
‘POSTO’, FLORITA’s s first swimwear collection is named after the Carioca word POSTO: the stop that marks each beach in Rio de Janeiro.
For the 2nd collection, YONGO, – the rhythm that originated samba, brought to Brazil by the slaves, – FLORITA reused materials from collection I to help reduce pollution and waste, save energy and stay
 
true to their ethics. At the same time FLORITA also started working with a group of talented artisans from low income areas in Rio, looking to produce ethically.
Collection number 3, AUGUST, represents an organic development we all make as a response to our changing environment.
 
FLORITA collaborates directly with the indigenous communities of Brazil. So is part of its collection made exclusively in collaboration with the Huni Kuin women of The Humaitá River, in Acre, Brazil. By employing the Huni Kuin women, FLORITA is directly impacting 7 families out of the 22 families in the village.
 
Since 2019, FLORITA also leads a group of volunteers to pick up plastic and litterplant new trees and organize creative activities to bring awareness to sustainability. At their first beach clean up they managed to remove 5kg  of micro garbage out of the beaches of Rio. 
It is a call to action to motivate Brazilians to preserve the beauty of the beach and inspire others to get involved.

Your choice does not stop there.

There is a whole long list of sustainable beachwear brands out there. Click here if you want to find out more about them.
 My gratitude goes to WealthyAffiliates. Without their technical support 

and encouragement this website would not exist.

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