What is Sustainable Swimwear?

Sustainability at its core is the longing to be engaged in a process that does no harm to the earth, or greatly minimizes it.  Sustainability in consumerism appears as a product that can be made without depleting the earth's resources, or that can be made with an ever replenishing resource. 

How to Find the Perfect Sustainable Swimsuit - Your Ultimate Guide

Sustainable swimwear has become synonymous with the type of fabric it is made with.  While this is a huge element, we want to explore the other aspects that go into making a bikini sustainable.  A truly sustainable swimsuit will be made with renewable or recycled materials, crafted by workers in safe conditions being paid a living wage, shipped with minimal packaging, and sold by a company that practices slow fashion (more on that below).  Within the swimwear industry, the term sustainable has become commonplace, something designers slap onto labels to make consumers feel less guilty about their purchase.  Many elements go into making a sustainable bikini which is why we want to help you find a truly sustainable swimwear piece, not one made by a company that is using the term to keep up with the latest trends.

How to tell if a swimsuit is made ethically?

An inherent aspect of sustainability is that it is also made ethically.  The two cannot be separated.  If a swimwear piece is made with recycled plastics but in sweatshop conditions, half of the equation is broken as the human aspect is not sustainable.  

Where is it made?

One major indicator that a product is ethically made is where it is produced and the environmental and labor laws protecting workers and the environment in that country.  If you have concerns about where your bikini is being made, search for that country's laws governing the environment and labor, ensuring workers are protected and treated fairly.

Independent seamstress making swimwear

Suanne, an independent seamstress, making Pure Bliss Bikinis from her home in Wisconsin.

What type of fabric makes a bathing suit sustainable?

There are many types of fabric that could be used to make a swimsuit and labeled as "sustainable".  Some of the most common you may see include swimwear made from recycled materials, or virgin materials made with non-toxic dyes.  Swimwear made with recycled materials is considered sustainable because they are not using new, or virgin materials, to create the fabric.  Materials such as recycled plastic bottles, fabric scraps, or old carpets can all be utilized to create regenerated nylon.  Some fabric producers work with companies to remove ghost fishing nets and trash directly from the ocean.

recycled and sustainable bikini

Pure Bliss Bikinis are made with regenerated nylon from recycled plastic materials like old carpets, fabric scraps, and trash and ghost nets pulled from the ocean.

What Are The Business Practices of the Company Selling It?

Is the company labeling a swimsuit as "sustainable" just for marketing purposes or does the company go above and beyond to consider Mother Earth when making their business decisions?  For example, many swimwear companies jumping on the sustainability train mass produce their swimwear in China but use a fabric that is made with recycled plastics.  The fabric portion is considered sustainable, but the human element is not sustainable as working conditions in factories in China can be quite poor.  

Sustainable Swimwear Packaging

You will often be able to tell if a swimwear company is truly concerned about sustainability by its packaging.  Do they use plastic bags to individually wrap pieces?  Do they use an abundance of shipping materials that could have been reduced?  Less is more when it comes to the packaging and shipping of a truly sustainable bikini piece.  Most truly sustainable swimwear brands will use recycled mailers or recycled boxes instead of shipping materials made with virgin, or new, materials.

Sustainable Business Practices

Does the company go above and beyond to care for the planet?  Look for companies that give back in some way, whether that is through donations to non-profits caring for the earth, beach cleanups, or environmental advocacy.

For every bikini purchased, Pure Bliss Bikinis removes a pound of trash from the ocean through beach and waterway cleanups.

Does the swimwear company practice fast or slow fashion?

Fast and slow fashion are fairly new terms to come on the scene but oh so descriptive and telling as to whether or not a company practices sustainability.  The easiest way to picture fast fashion is to picture a company that holds massive sales at the end of each season.  "Summer collection now 70% off" "Making way for new Resort Collection, all swimwear now 50% off".  These types of sales are telling as to the way a company goes about conducting business.  We call them inventory dumps.  Larger swimwear companies can quickly move through styles and colors and at the end of a season sell their swimwear for dirt cheap to make way for whatever is new and trendy.  This is the opposite of what makes a sustainable swimwear company.  It is the definition of fast fashion.   Slow fashion does not care about the comings and goings of the season's newest color craze.  It prioritizes high-quality garments that can be worn over and over again for years to come.