Looking for affordable eco friendly swimwear that won’t break the earth or your budget? Here are 12 brands to pick from.
Granted, in 2023, finding affordable eco-friendly swimwear for every body type is certainly not the Herculean task it once was. Just a few years ago, we had to force ourselves to dive deep (pun intended) into the ethical fashion rabbit hole, just to find a selected few brands able to fulfill our need for that sustainable-swimwear fix.
Now? Ethical biodegradable swimwear and recycled swimwear crafted from natural fibers, sustainable materials, fabric scraps and even regenerated fibers are widely available to help us lower our carbon footprint and look darn good while doing so. We definitely owe this shopportunity to the stellar sustainable brands that refuse to further harm the environment with synthetics.
But why opt for affordable sustainable swimwear when there are so many fast-fashion brands ready to outfit me with a new swimsuit? We hear you ask. Along with the seemingly alluring $10 price tag comes a huge environmental impact as well as many social concerns.
What is the environmental impact of fast fashion and fast swimwear?
You probably already know that swimsuits, in most cases, are made from synthetic fabrics such as like nylon, polyester, and spandex because they can easily wick moisture and stretch to offer that “perfect fit.”
However, the water footprint of polyester can be as high as “71,000 cubic metres per tonne of fiber” according to the Water Footprint Network. And the dying process is no different. Unlike sustainable fabrics, synthetics can take up to 200 tons of freshwater, for every ton of dyed fabric. The wastewater from the dying and production process is then dumped into nearby rivers.
On top of that, every time you wash those man-made fabrics, the microfibre particles are “swimming” right back into the ocean through our washing machines. On average, between 200 000 and 500 000 tonnes of microplastics from textiles enter the marine environment each year. In fact, today, 1.5 million trillion microfibers are “living” in the ocean, and tiny plastic fibers have also been found in our drinking water.
Then, there is the issue of textile waste. Synthetic fibers can take 200+ years for materials to decompose in a landfill. During the long decomposition process, these discarded fabrics generate greenhouse methane gas and leach toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil.
To put this into perspective, recent U.S. landfills alone released an estimated 109.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to methane into the atmosphere in 2020 — methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Exposure to these gases can result in mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, and many more issues.
The best sustainable swimwear brands, however, manage to create a wide range of styles with the highest quality at many price points. Here’s why affordable eco-friendly swimwear matters.
What should you consider when picking out eco friendly swimwear?
What materials are eco friendly swimwear made of?
Sustainable bathing suits have nothing in common with the chemical-packed, highly-polluting fast fashion swimwear. Some brands recycle plastic bottles And other ocean waste to then create brand new styles.
ECONYL, in particular, reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% compared with the material from oil. REPREVE is also made from 100% recycled plastic waste from post-consumer plastic bottles. Other brands, like BOLD swim, utilize all-natural materials as well as biodegradable nylon fabric.
Last but not least, hemp is a fantastic fabric used by many ethical swimwear brands as it requires only ¼ of the water it takes to grow cotton, yet produces 250% more fiber.
Sustainable clothing is created ethically and consciously, hence most brands have the necessary certifications to back it up. Don’t fall victim to greenwashing! Your next favorite affordable eco-friendly swimsuit should have at least one of the following certifications:
- Fair trade: It ensures that set of standards are met in the production and supply of a certain piece of clothing. This includes workers’ rights, the safety of the factories, and fair deals for farmers and workers in developing countries.
- Okeo-tex: This is the world’s best-known label for textiles tested for harmful substances. Sustainable swimsuits that are okeo-tex certified have been found to be non-hazardous end-products.
- GOTS: GOTS-certified organic ensures that a piece of clothing meets or exceeds some strict includes social and ecological criteria in the entire textile supply chain.
- ISO 14001: This certification is accredited to brands that actively try to reduce their environmental footprint by adopting an effective environmental management system.
The Labor Practices
It’s no secret that the fast fashion industry employs more than 300 million people in the whole world but doesn’t pay living wages.
Even in Los Angeles, more than 50,000 mostly immigrant women were found working in clothing factories in which 85% of those facilities were accused of violating labor laws, federal wage, and hour laws.
That’s why it’s important to choose eco-friendly brands backed up by fair trade to ensure that every part of the supply chain is closely monitored.
The Manufacturing Process
Most sustainable brands adopted the small-batch manufacturing method, to ensure less waste. On top of that, companies have already started using green energy to run their facilities as well as energy-efficient machines.
Also, ethical brands have started recycling or re-using effluent water from processing which is already due to the use of natural dyes. In sustainable fashion production, organic and natural materials are used, which means that they require significantly less water and energy and don’t create any microfibers that pollute our water bodies.
Last but not least, before you opt for affordable eco-friendly swimwear, make sure to give your hard-earned money to sustainable fashion brands that give back to the community.
This means that with each purchase you make, a percentage goes into a mission they care for deeply whether it’s environmental or social causes.
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12 Affordable Eco Friendly Swimwear Brands
Of One Sea
Of One Sea’s swimwear line is chock full of color, gorgeously-vibrant prints, and figure-flattering silhouettes for every body type.
From long-sleeve wet suits ideal for surfing to reversible bikinis with eco-recycled printed fabric for women and kids, the options are many. The unity-inspired surf and lifestyle sustainable brand uses a special recycled blend of fine threads sourced from recycled water bottles and ghost fishing nets which is the re-spun into swim fabrics.
Plus, with every purchase, the brand gives back a portion of the profit to the Hawaiian environmental alliance.
Wolven’s comfortable swimsuits are ethically-crafted from OEKO-Tex Certified Recycled P.E.T. fabric using post-consumer recycled plastic.
Their summer stunners almost always have a soft and feminine edge to them thanks to the various prints and look-at-me-know shades. You can filter their one-pieces and bikinis by color or by print —ranging from cute to utterly psychedelic.
Breathable, quick-drying, and odor resistant, the brand’s affordable eco-friendly swimwear are backed up by Intertek’s Workplace Conditions Assessment (WCA) to ensure transparency in the supply chain and certified by GRS to prove the accuracy of their claims for recycled materials.
The girlfriend collective is lauded as one of the most size-inclusive sustainable
Fashion brands with affordable eco-friendly swimwear that go up to 6X! GF uses top-quality recycled materials like post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets retrieved from the seas, fabric scraps, and other waste to create sustainable swimsuits colored with eco-friendly dyes. On top of that, used water gets sent to their wastewater treatment plant “literally 100 feet away from the machines,” instead of streams and rivers.
The brand is Fair Trade Certified which means that the factory adheres to super strict social and ecological regulations. Also, their recycled fabric is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex. As for the shipping, everything is packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable materials.
Prana is a beloved sustainable fashion brand with an array of affordable eco-friendly swimwear for men and women. They follow a strict circular business model to minimize waste and breath new life into every piece of clothing.
The brand’s swim line includes reversible tops, bottoms, tankinis, and shorts made from ECONYL® Recycled Nylon and LYCRA® Elastane.
Additionally, they are very transparent with their entire manufacturing process and care deeply about animal welfare. Last, but not least, their Fair Trade Certified program has given back $400,000+ to 33,000+ workers around the world!
MeUndies’ size-inclusive, ethical swim collection is every maximalist’s dream. Their one-piece and bikini styles are made from recycled nylon fabric and old fishing nets, to reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions.
Also, the brand uses low-impact dyes to adorn the fabrics with gorgeous prints in their fair trade certified factories.
As they mention, their swim lines are “energized by creativity” and thus, they’ve partnered up with like-minded organizations like the LA LGBT Center, The Body Positive, and The Fashion Scholarship Fund that supports the careers of the country’s most promising fashion students.
Do Good Swimwear
Do Good Swimwear utilizes regenerated ocean waste to create their island-life-approved, affordable eco-friendly swimwear. Each purchase donates to ocean conservation efforts, tree planting, and women and families in need.
From surf tops and high-waste bottoms to long-sleeve onesies and one-piece swimsuits, everything is produced in small batches to encourage reduced material waste and also use their fabric scraps to make earrings, scrunchies, and more!
The brand also has a stellar Repair Program as well as a Recycle Program for used pieces that allows you to donate your slightly used pieces to Bras For A Cause! Lastly, they give us the option to offset our shipments by donating to Trees for the Future, One Tree Planted, and Coral Gardeners.
Stay Wild Swim
The premium, London-based slow fashion brand Stay Wild Swim crafts their affordable eco-friendly swimsuits with ECONYL® yarn, a 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from nylon waste, following a zero-waste approach to garment production.
Aside from being Sedex members and SMETA certified, the brand also uses carbon-neutral shipping and has energy-saving motors on all equipment. Also, they have a great recycling program that helps us get rid of all our used swimwear sustainably. (no matter the brand).
Lastly, size inclusivity and body positivity are amongst their top values, which is always great to see.
Lilja The Label
Lilja the Label is an affordable eco-friendly swimwear brand from Finland focused on creating ethical bathing suits with earthy tones, minimalistic prints, and flattering cuts.
Their good swimwear is entirely made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon and REPREVE recycled plastic bottles. Chances are that you may know them for their highly successful trash-picking challenge #liljapicking that’s currently flooding our social media feeds.
The sustainable fashion brand has also partnered up with a small ethical and family-run factory in Bali to produce their beach-ready styles in small batches.
From running and yoga to swimming and hiking or athleisure, Athleta Swim has a modest style for every seaside sartorial scenario. Their affordable eco-friendly swimwear is made from recycled nylon swim fabric is super sleek with powerful stretch and also comes with UPF protection. From bikinis, one-pieces, swim shorts, and long-sleeve tops are ideal for paddling, each piece dries in a flash for ultimate comfort when breaking a sweat.
The end goal? To keep us covered and comfortable during our active beach days. On top of that, Athleta is a certified B Corp, which means that they adhere to non-profit B Lab’s standards of “social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
Summersalt’s swimsuit line is entirely made from post-consumer waste materials such as ECONYL regenerated nylon and REPREVE recycled bottles which come with UPF 50+ protection.
Their manufacturing partners are backed up by WRAP (meeting and exceeding international social compliance standards) and they are also GOTS and GRS certified! In fact, everything is ethically handmade in small batches in Bali at the brand’s own small family-run factory.
The size-inclusive line includes vintage-inspired prints along with monochromatic one-piece and two-piece bathing suits that get shopped to your doorstep straight from Finland.
Utterly body-flattering and unapologetically comfortable, JOLYN has reinvented women’s competitive swimwear for world-class athletes.
Thanks to their Foreverever fabric technology, Chlorine, salt water, and perspiration won’t break down the fabric which meanest that it will last for significantly longer even if you decide to put your swimsuit through your most intense workout.
Also, their bikinis and training costumes feature are fade resistant with UV protection — the same applies to their surf collection as well.
Arrow and Phoenix Swimwear
Sustainable, sexy, and sleek, Arrow and Phoenix Swimwear uses high-quality recycled materials that are sand resistant, incredibly soft, and retain their shape. Each style comes with UV protection and is made to order, reducing the amount of waste the brand creates.
When you are ready to opt for a new US-made, affordable eco-friendly swimwear, you can simply send back your old one for recycling and get a discount code in return! Whether you are tall and athletic, curvy or petite, the brand will help you “find the perfect fit” by recommending specific styles for your body type.
Summary: The Best Affordable Eco Friendly Swimwear 2023 Has To Offer
The good news is that, in 2023, there are more than a few affordable eco-friendly swimwear options to match your own sartorial aesthetic without forgoing comfort or sustainability in the process.
And while fast fashion bathing suits may be tempting, remember that the social and environmental impact of these synthetic styles is immense. Luckily, the aforementioned sustainable swimwear women opt for on repeat are ethically-made, free from harmful chemicals, and built to last no matter what life throws at them.
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