Yes, you read that correctly. Your swimwear is not sustainable. It is made from polyester (a petroleum product) and Lycra (also a petroleum product). With world seaborne plastic tonnage reaching at least 8.3 megatons this year – an amount that outweighs the weight of the entire human population – we needed to do something about it.
So how exactly is it harming the environment?
Making fabric for swimwear isn’t only damaging the environment, but the processes used to make it are also degrading the health of workers. The chemicals that dye these plastics break down in sunlight, which means they leach onto our skin and into our water when we wear them. Plastic fabrics also trap heat and moisture — meaning we feel hotter in hot weather and colder in cold weather — and slow water (sweat) absorption. All of these things often cause us to overheat or overcool, which leads to muscle cramping, chafing, rashes, and even dehydration. These materials clog up our drains and end up in landfill sites, polluting the environment with harmful chemicals such as phthalates.
But now, there’s recycled plastic!
Recycled plastic can be a raw material in sportswear, but it is not a silver bullet by any means. It’s also much cheaper to make things from virgin polymer, and there aren’t many companies big enough to make sustainability a priority when they look at materials procurement.
It’s not issue to disregard the use of Lycra to make the swimsuits more ‘long-lasting’ and protective from the heat. It is still quite harmful to the environment; however, we’re still moving forward and making changes; hoping that the fashion industry takes this leap.
It’s on the consumer!
Swimsuits are just one of the most perfect pieces of clothing for summer fun, but their production is so wasteful! How can we justify using so much plastic?
The truth is that the fashion industry tends to be slow to change, even when there are other options. As consumers, we need to start demanding more sustainable products and brands to put pressure on manufacturers to take action.