Women’s swimwear is an essential part of any summer wardrobe, yet it is one of the least sustainable fashion items in the world. To ensure swimwear holds its shape and feels comfortable when wet, most pieces are made with plastic-based materials like polyester and spandex.
So, how does all that plastic affect the environment? You want something you can wear both by the pool or on the beach that you can feel good in. Sustainable women’s swimwear is becoming an increasingly popular solution—and for good reason. We’re learning our swimsuits aren’t as beach friendly as we would like, but there is something we can do about it.
Because typical women’s swimsuits are made with plastic material, they take hundreds of years to break down. They also release harmful microplastics into our oceans every time they are washed.
Traditional swimsuits for women contain materials, including virgin nylon, which require an extensive amount of energy for production and ultimately contribute to the release of greenhouse gases.
Beyond the environmental advantages, sustainable swimwear promotes social responsibility. The positive social impacts of incorporating eco-friendly materials and practices into swimwear production include supporting marginalized communities, enhancing fair labor practices, and promoting ethical working conditions.
So, what’s the alternative? Thankfully, some awesome alternatives are hitting the market that allow us to shop with people and the planet in mind.
When thinking about what fabrics are sustainable for summer, you might be tempted to look for organic cotton or linen. While those might be the go-to fabric for a swimsuit cover up, neither material would make a comfortable swimsuit since they get heavy and misshapen when wet. Instead, you want material that will maintain its form and makes you feel confident. Look for swimwear that is made from recycled, regenerated, or naturally sourced fabric.
Recycled Nylon is a cool solution that is generally made from discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles, and fabric scraps that have been sanitized and melted down into new thread for manufacturing garments. ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon does this same thing, but with a far more energy-efficient process that recycles and purifies the plastic fibers ten times before creating a higher quality yarn.
Lastly, natural fiber fabrics such as hemp and bamboo use plant-based materials to create luxury fabrics without releasing microplastics into our environment. However, these materials aren’t yet widely available, and you might have your work cut out for you to find bamboo bikini bathing suits.
By actively repurposing plastics and waste collected from oceans and landfills, the demand for virgin materials diminishes, effectively minimizing the exploitation of natural resources.
Sustainable swimwear offers more than just environmental benefits. Often made with robust and high-quality materials, these swimsuits can outlast traditional swimwear, providing better value for money. It's also an excellent choice for comfort and performance. Natural fibers like hemp and bamboo absorb more moisture than polyester and spandex, so they keep you cooler in hot weather. This material is also softer and less likely to cause skin irritation, making it a great material for rash guards and an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
If finding an eco-friendly slimming swimsuit that fits your needs just isn’t in the cards, there are other ways to shop for sustainable fabrics and items for summer.
Beach towels and tote bags are easy products to find that can be made of earth-friendly materials like cotton or linen. Not only are these natural fibers renewable and earth-friendly, but they are also more durable and absorbent than synthetics—your towel will last longer and absorb more of that precious summer sun. Plus, who doesn't love the feel of a luxurious linen or cotton towel?
Reusable water bottles and cute tumblers for both you and your kids are another way to be sustainable. Not only will you reduce plastic waste, but reusable bottles also help to keep drinks cooler for longer, reducing the need for disposable cups or other single-use items. They’re a great way to get kids to drink more water because they're fun, stylish, and easy to carry around on days out.
Look for companies that offer sustainable packaging and labeling. In fact, by 2025, Lands’ End will use 100% recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable packaging for our brand labels.
Sustainable swimwear can be as stylish and durable as traditional swimwear, making it even easier to add an eco-friendly twist to the family swimwear wardrobe. Furthermore, selecting sustainable swimwear sends a strong message about what matters—taking care of our planet now and in the future.