the beginner's guide to sustainable swimwear

What Exactly Is Sustainable Swimwear? [Full Guide]

We’ll go through the good bits of sustainability, and how you can embrace it with bathing suits.

Swimwear can be eco-friendly too

The fashion industry has been moving toward eco-conscious practices to preserve natural resources.

Many swimwear companies are adopting a slow fashion, eco-friendly approach to design, manufacturing, and distribution processes. Some brands make swimwear from natural fibers.

Eco-friendly swimwear brands promote a circular production process. That means swimsuits are recycled, reused, or biodegradable.    

What exactly is sustainable swimwear?

Sustainable swimwear has recycled or regenerated fabrics instead of raw materials.

These brands look for ways to integrate post-consumer recycled waste into products, like fishing nets and plastic bottles. Since they use recycled resources, that means less garbage goes into landfills. 

Sustainable companies produce swimwear in ways that don’t harm the environment or cause more pollution.

Eco-friendly companies don’t use harsh chemicals when manufacturing. Most sustainable companies are also cruelty-free, which means their products are created without harming animals. 

Why should I choose sustainable swimwear?

They are ethically made

Sustainable swimwear provides a more ethical alternative to traditional swimwear. This type of swimwear is made using eco-friendly textiles and manufacturing processes that don’t harm the earth or ocean life.  

While traditional swimwear is manufactured with a fast fashion model, sustainable swimwear follows a slow fashion structure. 

Fast fashion produces low-quality pieces at a high volume, while slow fashion produces high-quality pieces at a lower volume. Slow fashion protects the integrity of the garment and the people working to make it.

They create less waste and pollution

Conventional swimwear is created with synthetic textiles that break down easily. This means the swimsuits don’t last as long. Eco-friendly swimwear is made with high-quality materials. These swimsuits last longer and their fabrics are more durable.

If consumers are buying and discarding fewer swimsuits, then the number of bathing suits that end up in landfills decreases.

Most conventional swimwear is made from raw synthetics, which creates more waste. These fabrics build up in landfills for hundreds of years. Many sustainable swimwear fabrics are biodegradable, so they break down naturally instead of creating more waste. 

The manufacturing processes for fast fashion companies expel more energy and increase pollution, which harms the environment.

In contrast, sustainable swimwear brands are transparent about their manufacturing processes. They outline their eco-friendly initiatives. Many brands found innovative ways to reduce their energy consumption, water usage, and carbon footprint.

They are environmentally and socially conscious throughout a bathing suit’s life cycle

Most traditional swimwear expels microplastics into the sea through washing, which harms marine life. It also ends up in our food and water, which makes it less safe for consumption. In contrast, sustainable swimwear is a more environmentally friendly option. It minimizes the number of microplastics and waste that end up in oceans, which is better for marine life. 

Eco-friendly swimwear supports fair trade and labor practices, to protect workers involved in the production process.

By investing in sustainable swimwear, you support the environment and the people who make the garments. 

What are the most sustainable fabrics for swimwear?


econyl as swimwear fabric
from ECONYL’s website

ECONYL is a regenerated nylon textile invented by Aquafil, an Italian engineering company. It’s eco-friendly because it’s made of 100% recycled material, like fishing nets. Waste comes from oceans and landfills. Nylon fibers are heated and remade without chemicals. 

ECONYL swimwear can also be recycled after use, which emphasizes its circular, environmentally friendly design. Traditional nylon is made with oil, so the ECONYL manufacturing processes minimize environmental impact by 90%.  

Amni Soul Eco®

Amni Soul Eco is a type of biodegradable fabric for bathing suits

Amni Soul Eco® is the world’s first biodegradable yarn. It was designed by Belgium-based science company, Solvay. The fabric breaks down approximately five years after it has been thrown away.

It is created with polyamide 6.6, which breaks down more quickly than other fabrics made with polyamides. It decomposes into organic matter that can be made into new resources. 

Swimwear made with this technology is long-lasting, durable, and comfortable. Amni Soul Eco® is also sustainable in its manufacturing processes. Water is reused, promoting the circularity of natural resources. Amni Soul Eco® is a non-toxic textile certified with an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label. It has also been labeled as bio-nylon.  


REPREVE® is another swimsuit fabric made from recycled bottoms
from REPREVE’s website

REPREVE is a fiber that’s composed of recycled materials, like plastic bottles. The recycled materials are then made into yarn. 

Since the yarn is composed of recycled materials, the manufacturing process has lower carbon emissions. The company reduces waste through this design, which is better for the planet. 

REPREVE implements eco-friendly practices into the creation of its yarns. It minimizes the energy needed to texture and dye yarn. 

REPREVE fabrics have FiberPrint® tracing, which means their composition can be verified. This type of transparency lets customers know their swimsuit fabrics are eco-friendly. 

It also has Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label, which means the materials are non-toxic. 


RPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate. These swimwear textiles are made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics. PCR plastics are plastics that have been recycled and can be made into something new. They’re a better alternative to virgin plastics because they minimize waste, cut down on carbon emissions, and promote circularity.   


A selection of various hemp fabrics
A selection of various hemp fabrics.

Hemp is a sustainable, natural swimsuit fabric. This textile is made from plant fibers. It’s a soft, durable material, making it ideal for sustainable swimwear. Hemp reduces pollution. Since it derives from a plant, it helps support our ecosystem. Hemp does not need pesticides to grow. It reduces carbon dioxide in the air and promotes soil turnover, making it an eco-friendly resource.

Hemp is an antibacterial and hypoallergenic fabric. It also creates a barrier for your skin that makes it difficult for UV rays to penetrate.  


how ecovero's made

EcoVero is a type of rayon fabric that comes from wood pulp. It’s a biodegradable fabric that leaves behind less waste and promotes natural resource turnover. EcoVero materials are consciously sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These fabrics have safety certifications from Oeko-Tex and Sustainable Textile Production (STeP). This means its textiles process was evaluated and deemed non-toxic and sustainable. 

Its production processes use 50% less water than other rayon manufacturing facilities. It also gives off less carbon dioxide than conventional rayon production. Lenzing, the company that makes EcoVero, is open about its supply chain. This transparency lets consumers track its sustainability.   

Organic Cotton

organic cotton as swimwear fabric

Organic cotton comes from the cotton plant. It differs from conventional cotton because farmers use sustainable practices that benefit the earth. Organic cotton is grown without toxic pesticides. The material is higher quality than regular cotton. Organic cotton is often woven with other swimwear fabrics, like hemp.   

Recycled polyamide

This textile derives from post-consumer recycled resources, including nylon. It gives off fewer carbon emissions than raw polyamides. Waste is heated. Then it’s spun into fibers that are woven into fabrics. Since the polyamide is recycled, it produces less waste and keeps resources out of landfills. 


This textile is 100% plant-based and renewable. It derives from castor seed oil and does not need much water in its production. Its lightweight and comfortable design makes it an ideal swimwear fabric. 

How to tell if a swimwear brand is sustainable?

There are a few different ways to evaluate a swimwear brand to see if it’s sustainable. 

Sustainable swimwear companies have products that are made from sustainable fabrics. Their website will have sustainable fabric labels like ECONYL, Amni Soul Eco, REPREVE, RPET, and hemp, among others. 

Sustainable companies are transparent about their supply chains. They outline the ways they obtain materials and describe how their production processes are eco-friendly. Some sustainable swimwear brands describe how to harness wind, water, and solar power to manufacture products. 

The company should also be transparent about how it makes its textiles. The word “circularity” means the company regenerates materials, rather than creating more waste. Other words like “recycled,” “upcycled,” “regenerative,” “zero waste,” and “closed loop,” denote sustainable practices.  

Brands should have ethical return or exchange policies. They should also have eco-conscious recycling or upcycling policies for their swimwear.   

Some companies may have an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label. This label means the fabrics are free from harmful substances at all stages of the production process, confirmed by independent testing. Many sustainable fabrics have this certification.    

Brands may work with environmental organizations to reduce ocean waste. Check to see if the brand supports or donates to environmental causes. 

Many sustainable swimwear brands have local manufacturing processes to lower their carbon footprint. 

Danielle Cappolla is a freelance fashion and beauty writer who contributes to publications around the world. She enjoys writing about new innovations in the fashion industry.

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