We wanted to give you some clear, side by side, info about the knock-on effects of buying swimwear from fast fashion brands compared to buying sustainable swimwear.
This is going to be a long one, so strap in and get ready to equip yourself with some super interesting sustainability knowledge that will help you become a more conscious consumer!
What is the real cost of fast fashion swimwear?
As our planet faces a climate emergency, the clothing sector is under increased global scrutiny as the second biggest polluter behind the oil industry. One key thing that you need to understand about cheap, fast fashion clothing items, is that they are almost 100% likely to be made out of plastic.
Most swimwear is made out of ‘synthetic fabrics’ (or plastic)– like nylon, polyester, and spandex, and an estimated 65 million tons of these plastic-based materials are generated every year. Plastic is made out of fossil fuels which are non-renewable and generate a lot of air and water pollution during their extraction processes. ON TOP OF THAT, synthetic fabrics aren’t biodegradable. This means that anything you purchase that is made out of these materials will never decompose, and will sit in landfills or oceans forever, polluting areas and threatening wildlife. Not cute!!
There is no easy way to get rid of plastic. Research by WRAP suggests in the UK alone, £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill every year, which does not include the disposal of unsold items and waste in production. Zara, Gap and H&M are among the many high street retailers to have been known to dispose of ‘deadstock’ by burning it to prevent others from reselling their products. This disposal method releases carbon emissions, adding to the greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere that trap heat and cause global warming.
The impacts of shopping fast fashion swimwear lines are not just environmental. You probably heard on the news in 2020 that in Leicester, garment workers for Boohoo were paid as little as £3.50 an hour. For swimwear, or any piece of clothing for that matter, to be dirt cheap, the costs of making it have to be slashed somewhere during production. This normally includes exploitative labour methods —using sweat shops or even forced labour camps, where workers aren’t paid fairly and work in unsafe conditions.
Why is sustainable swimwear better?
We want to be completely transparent. There isn’t currently a biodegradable material that has all the performance qualities necessary for a swimsuit. Our thinking was to use the next best alternative: recycled plastic!
The fabric used in our sustainable swimwear range is made out of discarded fishing nets that were formerly polluting the sea! Groups of volunteer divers from Healthy Seas find and rescue these fishing nets, some of which are caught on sea life. These nylon ghost nets are regenerated together with other nylon waste by Aquafil into ECONYL® yarn. The innovative mechanical process reduces water, energy usage, and carbon emissions compared to conventional nylon production from oil. For every 10,000 tons ECONYL® produced, 70,000 barrels of crude oil and 65,100 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions are saved compared to a regular nylon yarn made from virgin polymer. Also, the use of this material means that we only have to use a comparatively small amount of synthetic fabric in your cozzie to create a high-performance piece that’s perfect for the water!
As well as using recycled material, our packaging is all plastic free. Instead of plastic we use a sugar cane hygiene label for the swimsuit, which is a completely compostable material, and we mail your pieces to you in recyclable paper bags. Our swing tags are printed on handmade eco friendly paper that is made with germination so that once you receive your swimsuit, you can remove the tag, put it in a pot, and watch as your flower grows! Your sustainable swimwear comes in an organic cotton duster bag to keep it safe which can be reused for your swimsuit or things like shopping for veg!
FINALLY, all our sustainable swimsuits are produced in ethical factories. We regularly visit the factory in Portugal to make sure we can promise you that every piece is made to the highest of standards. They have a lot of certifications which ensure their workers are paid the correct wage and they hire a mostly female team. Oh.. also, ECONYL® is twice as resistant to chlorine, suntan creams and oils, so your swimmie will last you through every summer! Gone are the days of throwing away a swimsuit after one summer, we can do better!!!
We've just released our sustainability report, check it out for more stats <3 '23 sustainability report
A final note...
No one can be perfectly sustainable, but we can do our best. SoSo Swim is dedicated to using recycled materials that are ethically sourced, but our swimsuits still use energy and resources to make. Please be mindful and shop responsibly. Think, do I need this? Will I still wear this next year? We want to encourage people to buy sustainable swimwear that will last a lifetime! We never want to see one of our swimsuits in the landfill.
Sometimes we simply fall out of love with our clothes. If you want to get rid of your swimsuit, please list it on our pre-loved page.
If you read down this far THANK YOU!<3 Your inquisitive mind is what’s needed to beat the climate crisis and encourage all companies to adopt sustainable measures.