The fast fashion trends have contributed to unprecedented amounts of textile waste, and swimwear has been no exception. Fortunately, many brands are riding the eco-friendly wave toward more responsible and ethical swimwear production practices.

The Problems with Popular Swimwear

Mainstream swimwear has fallen into the same trap as all other fast fashion categories. With ever-changing bathing suit trends, most swimwear ends up in landfills after a single season. The sheer volume of swimwear produced, left unworn, or discarded is one of the major issues with the current swim fashion system. A less ethical approach will continue to contribute to the masses of textile waste hitting the garbage every year. But the amount of popular swimwear is only one of the major issues with the industry. The other has more to do with composition.

The current trends in conventional swimwear utilize alarming amounts of plastic to produce their product. Most swimwear brands rely on nylon, polyester, and lycra for their moisture-wicking properties and classic stretchability. The production of these synthetic and effective materials is relatively cheap. But the problem with plastic is now widely known: when it's discarded, it sits in landfills and even oceans for years. This is especially true with plastics within textile production. Textile recycling has not yet hit the mainstream the same way that other forms of recycling has. This means that tons of plastic-ridden textiles, including bathing suits, are often left unrecycled.

But the problem with swimwear material continues. Not only do conventional swim brands use cheap production methods, but their goal is to make sure that each piece has the shortest lifespan possible. In short: swimwear falls apart quickly. That's actually on purpose. When you combine the changing styles and the cheap construction of swimwear, you get a recipe for massive amounts of textile waste.

Fortunately, there has been a major movement toward ethical swimwear. These high-quality, longer-lasting, responsibly-constructed bathing suits can curb textile waste. Many of the brands also seek out natural and repurposed materials so the production process is equally eco-friendly. The result is swimwear that is built to last, and built with green practices that will keep our earth healthy while buyers sunbathe sustainably.

New, Ethical Swimwear Practices

Synthetic materials like plastic cannot decompose. Instead, they break into tiny pieces of microplastic that are often swallowed by fish and other marine animals. What happens to these tiny bits of plastic? They work their way back up the food chain… to us. In a stroke of creativity, ethical swimwear brands are sourcing plastic from the ocean. They clean and break down these potential pollutants and melt them into an innovative thread called ECONYL. Econyl is similar to lycra, but many think it's even softer and more stable than the previously popular material.

In addition to creating new, responsible swimwear materials, brands are moving toward timeless, classic pieces that won't go out of style. When swimwear is made to last, and the style is equally timeless, that's when we can start really cutting down on textile waste.