Swimwear is difficult to make sustainably because most products contain elastane (alternate names: Lycra, spandex). Elastane is made from fossil fuels and any large percentage (5-10%+) make the items not recyclable.
I found great options to make you look and feel great at those beach days this summer.
Vitamin A reminds me of American Apparel swimwear, but better! The underwire and pads provide a bit of structure to these sexy wraparounds. Their plant-based swimwear line is made from castor beans (read: cute shrubs).
This swimsuit is 83% recycled nylon and 17% elastane. However, the upcycled collection uses deadstock elastane. They use biodegradable and recyclable packaging.
BOLD Swim uses a biodegradable eco-nylon. All their packaging is recycled and they use compostable liners and labels. They offset emissions by planting trees!
Outerknown is a champion of circular swimwear. Their swim is 80% recycled polyester and 20% elastane, but they have a goal of making all their products circular by 2030.
Outerknown also has a pre-owned platform that allows consumers to buy and sell pre-owned swimwear. They are an accredited Fair Trade organization, meaning they protect the health and safety of their workers.
Londre has beautifully-made swimwear from recycled plastic bottles. All suits are recyclable and Londre provides compensation to consumers who repair their suits. The packaging is compostable and recyclable.
There aren't a lot of good swimsuit options on the market made from natural materials because plastics have better performance. Plastics are not recyclable, not biodegradable, and shed microfibers when you wash them. Microfibers are potentially dangerous for marine life and human health.
As we wait for more natural options, we can still choose recycled and deadstock plastics and use microplastic washing bags when laundering our swimwear.