What is Ethical Swimwear? Why it's a Crucial Trend in the Bikini Market

Ethical swimwear is a term used more and more frequently in the bikini world as demand continues to grow.  But what is an ethical bikini? The term can be a bit vague and hard to nail down which is why we want to help break down what it means, and how you can find the most sustainable and ethical swimwear.

What is Ethical Swimwear?

Ethical Bikinis

Before diving into what ethical swimwear is, it's important to take a look into the term ethics as a way to provide context.  "Ethics is based on well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues," according to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.  Ethics in fashion, and more specifically in the swimwear industry, can be boiled down to a product conforming to one of the four category's below.  The more a swimsuit can fit into multiple categories, the more ethical it is.  Many swimwear brands will use the term Ethical, as a method to greenwash their product and make it appeal to the current trend in the market. Greenwashing is when brands advertise their products as sustainably made or environmentally friendly to sell more. It could even mean false claims of green business practices or being vague with facts about manufacturing etc.  Understanding how a piece of clothing can be ethical will help create a more educated consumer and demand more from brands that use this term to appeal to a wider audience.

How and Where is an Ethical Swimsuit Made?

The location where a swimsuit is made is important because of human rights, but more specifically labor rights in that country.  Many brands will have their swimwear made in a country with their only concern being cost.  Unfortunately, where a swimsuit is made can tell a lot about how ethical it is due to how workers are treated in that country, and the laws in place to protect them.  There is a constant downward pressure in the manufacturing market to find countries with the latest access to textile production at the cheapest cost.  For a while China was offering the cheapest labor for production, but that then shifted to Vietnam and Bangladesh.  Some companies will go so far as to label their clothing as made in P.R.C., the People's Republic of China, to deceive customers from thinking their product was made in China.  If you see a country listed on a label and have questions about how ethical manufacturing is, do a quick google search and become more educated on the topic instead of relying on a brand to tell you.

What are Ethical Bikinis Made From?

Pay close attention to the material used to create a bikini you are contemplating on purchasing.  There is not one type of fabric that is considered ethical, but when using the frame of reference "benefits to society" or "standards of right and wrong" from our above definition, we can quickly deduce what types of material would be considered the most ethical.  When it comes to material, try a swimsuit that is made with a fabric created with the least amount of pollution, or harm, to the environment.  Some examples of this could include fabrics made with recycled plastics, organic and renewable sources, and up-cycled nylon scraps.  There is not one box fits all for an ethical material, but rather a frame of reference to be able to make the most informed decision about how the material affects the planet.

Is there a positive contribution to society or the planet through your purchase?

Beach cleanup

Pure Bliss Bikinis founders alongside STRW Co, doing a beach cleanup in San Diego.

The millennial generation has created many brands that are more than the product they sell and wish to create a larger meaning behind consumerism.  Take Toms Shoes, the brand made it feel good to purchase a pair of their shoes due to their "One for One" policy where they gift a pair of shoes for every pair that is purchased.  This created a wave of companies wishing to replicate their business model and leave the planet, or society, with something more than just an article of clothing.  We have the ability to speak with our money, as every time we purchase an item, it is supporting not only the brand but also the means of production behind it.

Why is it important to buy Ethical Bikinis?

It is important to purchase ethical swimwear as a means to support brands who are striving to have minimal impact on the planet and support the fair treatment of textile workers around the world.  Ethical swimwear has the potential for less impact on the environment through the materials being used to create it.

Ethical vs. Sustainable Swimwear 

Can a swimsuit be both ethical and sustainable?  Can a bikini be sustainable but not ethical?  Yes to both, although the two terms have become used interchangeably in the swimwear world.  Sustainability can refer to the materials that make a swimsuit, or the sustainability of the labor that supplies the materials and finished product.  For a product to be ethical, it would have to be inherently sustainable in nature, as an ethical product is seeking to follow what is right.  A swimsuit could be made from sustainable materials, but be made in sweat shop like conditions so would not be considered an ethical product.  The materials side would be, but having one ethical side does not overcompensate lacking in another area.  Sustainability directly refers to whether or not the product can be made continually in the future without depleting a natural resources. 

How is Pure Bliss Bikinis both an Ethical and Sustainable Swimwear Brand?

Beach Cleanups

Pure Bliss Bikinis is committed to removing one pound of trash from the ocean for every bikini purchased. Our goal is to spread awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean with the goal of inspiring others to make small changes in their day to day lives to reduce single use plastic use.

Sustainable and Ethical Swimwear Fabric

Our sustainable eco fabric is created with ECONYL® regenerated nylon which utilizes recycled plastics like ghost fishing nets pulled from the ocean, leftover fabric scraps, and fluff from old nylon carpets. To read more about our eco-fabric, click here.

Swimwear Production

Our swimwear is made in Bali, Indonesia and in the USA by independent seamstresses. 

Biodegradable and Compostable Mailers

We are so excited to have found compostable, biodegradable mailers that are made from home-compostable materials, mainly corn starch and PBAT (a compostable ingredient which bonds the sustainable ingredients together). To compost them once you've received your package, simply remove any labels and cut it up and place in your compost bin. The best part is that is even if they end up in a landfill they will still break down, although it is still better to compost them yourself so they don't add to the methane production in a landfill. To learn more about how they are made and how they decompose, visit heropackaging.com.au.

To shop our sustainable and ethical swimwear click here.