Socially-distanced vacations — and trips to the beach — are finally within reach again and we’re more than ready to dive right in, literally and figuratively. If you’re looking to suit up for the beach or the pool in a way that’s kinder to the planet, then we’ve got you covered: here’s your ultimate guide to sustainable swimwear.
Fast-Fashion, Swimsuits, & the Planet
The allure of fast-fashion is strong: the latest styles, seemingly plucked right from top designers, at a fraction of the price.
Beyond its promise of keeping us on-trend, fast-fashion has an enormous negative impact on the planet. The average consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothing a year. Polyester, the dominant fabric of the swimsuit industry, can take over 200 years to biodegrade once it’s in the landfill.
On top of that, it takes 70 million barrels of oil to produce the world’s supply of polyester each year. And that’s only brushing the surface. Clothing is one of several ways that microplastics — tiny plastic particles — enter the water system, particularly when we do laundry. One way to reduce your impact is to put your clothes in a washing bag, which is designed to catch loose microfibers.
The Best Sustainable Swimsuits to Buy This Summer
All of that is a lot to take in. It gives us a lot to consider when it comes to our individual choices. With swimsuit season here and so many brands to choose from, where do we even start? When it comes right down to it, the most sustainable option for clothing is what you already own.
But, if your swimsuit is well-worn or you’re looking to embrace a change of style, then don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. In many ways, avoiding fast fashion has become a lot easier. Multiple brands have embraced the use of recycled polyester and nylon and on top of that, have positioned themselves in opposition to the overproduction and unfair labor practices that have become synonymous with fast fashion.
Here are our top picks for sustainable swimwear.
Sustainable, size-inclusive athleisure favorite Girlfriend Collective introduced its first-ever swimwear collection just in time for summer, and it’s making quite the splash. The neutral and tropical-hued collection featured three one-piece swimsuits as well as three bikini tops and two bottoms that go up to size 6XL and can be mixed and matched. Bonus points for showing how the swimsuits look on more than one body size!
Just like its cult-hit leggings, the GF Swim collection is made from recycled plastic—in this case, recycled fishing nets and post-industrial waste recovered from the ocean.
Outdoor clothing icon Patagonia will have you ready for the beach with its summer swimwear collection, designed with an active lifestyle in mind. Featuring one-pieces, wetsuits, mix-and-match tops and bottoms, and board shorts, too, this collection has a multitude of styles and colors to choose from. And, it features post-consumer materials, like recycled polyester. P.S., the Nanogrip Swimsuit tops were designed to stay secure, so you can take on the water with some peace of mind knowing there won’t be a slip-up.
Eco-minded Vancouver, Canada-based brand Londre channels chic, timeless styles in its sustainable swimwear collection, which has six tops, 4 bottoms, and six one-piece styles to choose from in colors ranging from classic black and white to earthy clay and fruit-and-floral prints. Everything is made with at least six reclaimed plastic water bottles, according to the brand, and sizes go up to 6XL.
Vintage-inspired, made for all genders, sustainable, and all-around fun is the best way to describe Portland-based brand, Beefcake Swimwear. The brand features eight different colors and patterns, ranging from leopard print and rainbow to black-and-white stripes that’ll make you feel like a dapper silent movie star on a beach trip. And sizes go up to 5X — the entire collection was designed to flatter every body of every gender at any age.
Simplicity is the name of the game for Organic Basics. Its summer swimwear lineup includes one style each and three colors to choose from for tops, bottoms, and one-pieces. Every piece includes recycled nylon spun from plastic trash reclaimed from landfills and the oceans. And they provide UV SPF 50 sun protection and are resistant to discoloration from sunscreen and chlorine. Sizes go up to XL.
The Nude Label
Valencia, Spain-based brand The Nude Label uses regenerated polyamide, aka nylon, for its sustainable swimwear collection. It features three tops, two buttons, and a one-piece in four colors each, with sizes going up to XL. Every piece is breathable, quick-drying, and is UV- and chlorine-resistant.
Sustainable swimwear brand Vitamin A channels California beach styles with caring about the planet. Founded by designer Amahlia Stevens, who previously worked with Patagonia, Vitamin A uses recycled nylon for its collection, which is manufactured locally in California. With seven tops, seven bottoms, and two one-piece styles, plus a whole spectrum of colors, and even different fabric textures, Vitamin A has a whole lot to choose from.
And remember, as exciting as it is to finally spend some time outdoors again, it’s still important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays if you’re going to be spending time outdoors. So, be sure to apply cruelty-free sunscreen before you leave your home and reapply as needed. Generally, sunscreen should be applied every two hours, especially if you’re going to be in the water.
Once you’re done having fun, thoroughly cleanse your face, hair, and body to get rid of bacteria and reduce your risk of contracting an infection. (Here are some of our favorite summer skincare products.)
LIVEKINDLY is here to help you navigate the growing marketplace of sustainable products that promote a kinder planet. All of our selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, LIVEKINDLY may earn a commission.