Sustainable Swimwear

July 25, 2019

Sustainable Swimwear

At the first hint on sunshine, I'm dreaming of the beach and heading to the nearest river for wild swimming. I love being in the water but I've always had a love-hate relationship with what to wear in it. Swimwear is easily overlooked when building a sustainable wardrobe. It can be tricky to find a bathing suit that balances practicality, style, comfort, and durability while still being affordable and sustainably-made.

Unfortunately, the most common fabrics used to make swimsuits are nylon, polyester, lycra, and estane, which are plastics. Like activewear, these fabrics are best suited to exercising; they're stretchy and wick away moisture making them difficult to recycle or repurpose. They also shed microplastics that pollute our waterways and cause problems for wildlife. Suitable alternatives for swimwear fabrics are severely limited and not at all practical.

On top of the issue of plastic, fast fashion brands produce high volumes of swimwear that are worn once and discarded. Every summer we're encouraged to pack several bathing suits and discard them at the end of our holiday; 50 million single-use outfits will be purchased this season alone. To avoid being part of the problem, we need to opt for a responsibly-made bathing suit from a more sustainable fabric and wear it for more than just one summer.



Sustainable Swimwear

There are plenty of sustainable swimwear brands that make bathing suits at the same price as fast fashion brands except they make them ethically. That being said, we can't compare a flimsy £12 swimsuit that will fall apart after one summer with a £50 swimsuit made ethically from durable fabric that will last years. If you're able to, invest in one durable sustainably-made bathing suit instead of a dozen cheap ones.

If you're buying new swimwear every year, stop. Wear what you already own and once it's worn out, replace it with a more sustainable option. The most sustainable thing you can do is stop buying new things and start wearing what you already have. It really is possible to find cute swimwear that looks as good as it makes you feel without breaking the bank.

I have three swimsuit options: an ASOS "eco" plunge one-piece (similar) I purchased years ago, a bathing suit for actual swimming, and a bikini - both gifted. Arguably nobody needs three swimwear options but I wear them all and they serve different purposes. My personal recommendation would be the YouSwim High Waist Two-Piece; there's a one-piece option available too.

Here are some ethical swimwear brands to look out for, many of which make their bathing suits from post-consumer waste and responsibly-sourced materials, treating both their workers and the environment with respect.


  • Abysse
  • All Sisters
  • Amour Vert
  • Araks
  • Aurai Swim
  • Batoko (UK)
  • Bold Swim
  • Essentials For Zula
  • Hackwith Design House
  • Hakea
  • Jets
  • Kiniki (UK)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (UK)
  • Koru
  • Mamadelta
  • Mime Swim
  • Now Then
  • The Nude Label
  • Ohoy
  • Outdoor Voices
  • Patagonia (UK)
  • Reformation
  • Ruby Moon (UK)
  • Samantha Sage (UK)
  • Shapes in the Sand
  • Summersalt
  • Suro
  • To Dive For (UK)
  • Vitamin A
  • YouSwim (UK)
  • Vege Threads




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