Before you go for a swim this summer, there may be one thing you're forgetting to put on besides sunscreen: an eco-friendly swimsuit. Did you know that the fashion and textile industry—itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie, yellow polka-dot bikinis included—is the world's second largest pollutor? Manufacturing synthetic fabrics, like polyster, often requires a massive amount of crude oil and emits harmful gases into the air as a result.
Luckily, these designers aren't sacrificing style for sustainability. From repurposing rescued fish nets from the coasts into fabric to donating proceeds to ocean conservation programs, here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly swimwear lines to help you look great on the beach while protecting it, too.
Born and raised on the island of Tahiti, Hanalei and her mother Raphaele teamed up to create this earth-loving line out of a passion for both exploring and protecting the ocean. Surfers, divers, and marine athletes alike will love these sleek wetsuits and fast-drying bikinis with built-in UV protection. Designed in California, the suits are made out of Japanese limestone neoprene (as opposed to traditional petroleum-based neoprene)—a light yet durable rubber-based material—as well as 100 percent recycled fabric made from fishing nets collected along the Italian coast line. Abysse also partners up with eco-orgs like Sirens for the Sea to spread awareness and education about oceanic protection—now that's a dive we're down for.
For founder and designer, Kelley Chapman, the first step to being a more sustainable designer was getting to the source. "It's important to look at where your raw materials are coming from," she tells us. "Each year 70 million barrels of crude oil are extracted and distributed to maintain the swimwear and activewear industry alone." To help compat this, the Hawaii-based maker uses regenerated nylon made from discarded fishing nets to create her strappy, island-inspired swimsuits; this requires two thirds less energy and 80 percent less water to produce compared to conventional textiles. "We can take one ton of old discarded fishing nets and turn them into about 9,000 bikinis. Pretty impressive, right?"
Calling all eco-conscious fashionistas! These California-made, minimalist-chic swimsuits are crafted from the brand's signature EcoLux fabric made out of recycled nylon. Count on founder Amahlia Stevens, who previously worked with fellow green brand Patagonia, to nail trendy beachware without trading sustainability. With both style and ocean-lovers in mind, Stevens also works closely with environmental preservation organizations, like the Surfrider Foundation, by donating a percentage of swimsuit sales. Just another reason to indulge in your dream suit this summer.
For New York-based designer Hoffman, who's been dedicated to ethical clothing production and sustainable sourcing for years, swimwear is certainly no exception. By prioritizing natural, renewable, and recycled materials—like regenerated nylon and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles—the brand has helped keep over 10,000 pounds of waste out of landfills. Even in their cotton sundresses and linen cover-ups, Hoffman strives for organic GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified textiles. And when you finally snag one of her colorful or print-happy bikinis, feel even better knowing your goods will be shipped in a compostable and recycled packaging.
We're not the only ones who love this line for their eco-practices in producing tropical-inspired bathing suits (can you say Beyonce?!). Then again, who wouldn't want to sport a bombshell bikini that's not only ultra flattering, but also made from 83 percent recycled water bottles and over 75 percent recycled fabrics? Run by a husband-wife team, Greenlee Swim greeis designed and manufactured in Los Angeles and gives back to ocean-loving orgs like 5 Gyres—proof that going green (and looking gorgeous) are easier than you think.
Founded by the former actress-turned-mompreneur, this eco-swim line features retro-inspired styles (think high waists and peplums) and two-piece swim dresses giving you that killer silhouette. Dedicated to ethical sourcing, Rey's American-made collection is also crafted from 100% regenerated materials which helps keep more waste out of the ocean. Just last year, she also launched a line of ethically-made skirts and dresses, perfect for grabbing lunch after a morning at the beach.