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Fashion, Life & Style

9 of the Best Recycled Swimwear Brands Tackling Plastic Pollution

organic basics swimsuit made from recycled ocean plastic

Looking for recycled swimwear made from plastic bottles? I’ve got nine ethical brands right this way for you that are making waves by tackling plastic pollution, as well as High St alternatives.

Swimwear has been an incredibly tricky market to make more environmentally friendly. The reason being that it’s not possible to make plastic-free swimwear, without going back to the woolen swimsuits of yesteryear. These got very heavy as soon as you got in the water, and the swimsuit or shorts failed to hold their shape and had a tendency to fall down. As soon as manmade fabrics came along, such as polyester and nylon, that were more elasticated and durable, wool was quickly cast aside.

Since then, swimwear hasn’t changed much. As such, only until the last couple of years really, the ethical swimwear market was a poor show, related only to swimsuits made in the UK. Although it’s not currently possible to avoid plastic in swimwear, there are now more sustainable options. The main one being swimwear made from recycled plastic.

I think in time, a natural plastic-free alternative will be developed with those key qualities that we need. However, for now, if you’re looking for sustainable swimwear, then recycled is your key criteria.

The Best Recycled Swimwear Brands

The good news is that there are now lots of sustainable swimwear brands out there, catering to men, women and children. Here are my top tips of the swimwear brands tackling ocean plastic, and making recycled look cool.

This price guide is: £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Batoko

Batoko recycled plastic swimwear

Price: ££

Caters for UK sizes 6 – 20

Batoko is a small independent swimwear brand based on the North West coast of England. They create swimwear that is made from recycled plastic waste. These swimsuits are fun and flattering, and suitable for wild swimming, swimming in the sea, or just lazing by the pool. And your order will arrive free of individual plastics and wrapping. 

As a small business, Batoko consciously keeps its swimwear collection small and simple. This way of working allows Batoko to focus on the longevity of each design and ensures that they never over-produce. Keeping small also means that their supply chain is small. This means that Batoko can better ensure that the people making their swimwear remain safe, happy, and fairly paid.

What’s more, every year a proportion of Batoko’s profits goes to grassroots organisations and communities that are action-based within their specific expertise and niche. For example, they have donated to the National Lobster Hatchery in Cornwall, which is helping to save the European Lobster from collapse.

Davy J

Davy J swimwear

Price: £££

Caters for UK sizes 6 – 18

Davy J’s swimwear is made from ECONYL® – a regenerated nylon. This is a high-performance fabric that’s created using ocean waste, such as discarded fishing nets, and post-industrial plastic, and even old carpets.

As well as being made from recycled plastic, Davy J’s swimwear is also designed to last longer. A double-lined, high elastane composition provides extra strength, durability, and shape.

Davy J is also aiming to build a closed-loop resource system, where you can return your swimwear at the end of its life for recycling, so do keep an eye out for that.

Deakin & Blue

Deakin and blue swimsuit

Price: £££

Caters for UK sizes 8 – 24 (cup sizes AA – HH)

All of Deakin & Blue’s stylish swimwear is made from ECONYL®. What’s more, their swimwear is UK-made, in London, in a studio that prides itself on premium craftsmanship in a safe working environment.

Deakin & Blue also works with Oeko-Tex certified suppliers, environmentally and socially responsible manufacturers and partners who pay fairly, use chemicals safely and minimise waste where possible.

Because Deakin & Blue believe that no two “size 12” bodies are the same, they have developed a unique sizing system to offer a great fit, whatever your shape or size. There are three styles of swimwear catering from sizes 8 to 24. One style specifically caters to AA – B cup busts, another caters to C – E cups, and the other caters to F – HH cup sizes. What’s more, they can customise any of their swimwear (free of charge) to fit a post-mastectomy prosthetic. 

Fletch & Mills

Price: £ – ££

Caters for UK sizes 8 – 16 (women’s) and S – XL (men’s)

If you have ever dreamed of matching your family at the beach or swimming pool, then take a look at Fletch & Mills*. Here you can get matching swimwear for fathers and sons, and new for 2021, mothers and daughters too. These are handmade in recycled polyester.

Frugi

frugi swimsuit

Price: £

Caters for UK sizes 8 – 18

If it’s maternity swimwear that you are looking for then the good news is that these come in recycled plastic versions too! Ethical kidswear brand Frugi* has a small but perfectly formed maternity swimwear range. Not only is it made from Repreve, a high-performance recycled polyester fabric that’s made from plastic bottles, but it also offers a high 50+ UV protection factor.

Frugi also offer recycled plastic swimwear for kids*, catering from newborns to age 10.

In both cases, do note that some of their older stock isn’t made from recycled plastic bottles. Look out for the green logo on each product.

Lemonade Sky

Price: £ – ££

Caters for UK sizes 8 – 20++

Lemonade Sky* is a London-based sustainable start-up boutique clothing brand born from the frustration of never being able to find trendy, comfortable, high-quality products that fit fuller busts properly, while also being suitable for those smaller-chested. As such, they design for up to an H cup.

All of Lemonade Sky’s products, including their swimwear, are handmade locally from eco-friendly fabrics like recycled plastic bottles. Lemonade Sky’s seamstresses are paid a fair living wage, and their packaging is plastic-free.

Lemonade Sky also gives back – including to charities that support equal rights and treatment for women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the Black community.

Organic Basics

Organic basics recycled swimwear

Price: £ – ££

Caters for UK sizes XS – XL

Organic Basics stylishly simple Re-Swim line*, catering for both men and women, is made to the highest ethical standards with recycled plastic from oceans and landfills. This plastic is regenerated from industrial plastic, fabric scraps, plastic ocean waste, and ghost-nets in the sea.

Their range is PETA vegan approved, and Organic Basics offer free CO2 neutral worldwide shipping. What’s more, products ship in plastic-free packaging.

Use discount code WENDYOBC to take 10% off your order.

RubyMoon Swim

Price: ££

Caters for UK sizes 6 – 20

RubyMoon* is a sustainable swimwear and activewear brand for women. As well as their collection being ethically manufactured and made from sustainable materials, RubyMoon also helps women set up and grow businesses across the globe. Here, 100% of the net profits generated by RubyMoon are lent out as small loans, to empower women entrepreneurs in eleven nations.

RubyMoon makes their swimwear from ECONYL® nylon yarn from used fishing nets and other waste material from the Mediterranean, Aegean & North Seas. Their swimwear is also PETA-Approved Vegan and Oeko-Tex certified. What I also like is that their swimsuits come with a hidden ‘shelf bra’ for extra support for those with larger chests.

Seasoon

Price: ££

Caters for UK sizes: S – L

If you are looking for swimwear that’s less for swimming in, and more for lounging beside a pool, cocktail in hand, then Seasoon’s swimwear* is the one for you. Their swimwear is definitely more on the design-led side of things. However, Seasoon’s swimwear is made from Carvico – a fabric made using ECONYL® yarn. Carvico resists the action of sunscreen, as well as sunlight, repeated washings, sea, and chlorinated water. This means it will look better for longer.

Stitson Studio

Price: ££

Caters for UK sizes 8 – 12

Stidston Studio’s swimwear* is made from ECONYL® using sustainable and environmentally focused manufacturing techniques. Their swimwear is designed, cut, and sewn in Devon in small batches to ensure that product waste is kept to a minimum. They also avoid designing products with specific print placements as this creates a lot of fabric wastage. Instead, they use solid colours or repeat prints to reduce waste.   

Recycled Swimwear On the High Street

Recycled swimwear on the high street
Fat Face’s range of recycled swimwear

If your budget doesn’t stretch to ethical recycled swimwear brands, then the good news is that many high street retailers are getting in on the recycled plastic act when it comes to swimwear.

These include:

  • Fat Face. However, do note that not all of their swimwear is made from recycled plastic. You need to specifically look for the tag that says “made with recycled materials”.
  • White Stuff*. Many of White Stuff’s swimwear is made from a recycled plastic called Repreve.
  • Boden. All of Boden’s swimwear appears to be made from recycled nylon.
  • Speedo. Speedo offers a wide range of swimwear, for men, women and children, all made from recycled yarns.
  • Roxy. This surfwear brand offers a huge range of women’s swimwear, in a variety of styles, all made from recycled nylon.

Does Recycled Swimwear Release Microplastic?

So this is the really key question. Yes, like regular swimwear, recycled swimwear does release microplastic. It’s definitely not a silver bullet to the microplastic problem.

If you’re not aware of the microplastic issue then microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are shed every time we wash synthetic clothing. It also comes from a variety of other sources, such as sunscreen and cosmetics, but also from industrial sources too. Microplastics end up in the food and drink that we consume, and ultimately end up in our bodies, where scientists are currently not sure what the long-term effects of this may be.

One solution at the individual level is to wash your swimwear in a product that catches microplastic, such as a Guppyfriend*. I’m more of a fan of interventions at the governmental and manufacturer level, as I don’t think this should be an issue for individuals to shoulder the responsibility or cost of. Continuing to press on the Government for action on microplastics is therefore key.

Other things you can do to help release microplastic release from your swimwear is to gently hand wash your swimsuit in cold water, rather than machine washing it.

Guide to ethical swimwear made from recycled plastic

Image in header used courtesy of Organic Basics

Fashion, Life & Style

Where to Buy the Best Ethical Leggings

Wondering where to buy the best sustainable and ethical leggings for sport or for working from home? Read on for the Moral Fibres top recommendations – from leggings made from natural materials to leggings made from recycled plastic bottles, to leggings with pockets!

I’ve written a whole guide to women’s ethical clothing brands, but what about when you are looking for something specific, such as leggings?

With the pandemic requiring many people to work from home, smart officewear has been abandoned, and comfort is king. Many of us are working in our more comfortable, stretchy, and forgiving clothing. What’s more, we have even pushed aside our jeans in favour of elasticated waists. What’s taken their place? Step forward leggings.

Of course, comfort isn’t the only explanation for the rise in popularity in leggings. Cycling, walking, and running levels are all on the up due to the pandemic.

Where to Buy Ethical Leggings

Let me show you some of my favourite places to buy ethical leggings. I’ve taken into account sizing, so tried to find brands offering inclusive sizing, and I’ve tried to cater to a range of price points. As such you’ll see a price key for each brand.

The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+

I’m mindful that everyone has different ethics when it comes to clothing. As such, this guide has been designed to be a starting-off point for you to research the most sustainable option for your own particular set of ethics.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

On to the brands!

Baukjen

baukjen activewear

Caters for: sizes 6 – 18

Price range: ££

Baukjen*, a certified B Corp, offers a small selection of leggings catering for the ethical shopper.

Ethically manufactured in Europe, their activewear leggings are made from Econyl®. This is a technical fabric, made with recycled nylon from rescued ocean plastic and plastic waste. Baukjen also uses low-impact dyes, which are kinder to the environment.

Handily, these leggings come with a side pocket for your phone and your keys.

Use the exclusive discount code MORALFIBRES15 to take 15% off full price orders.

Bam: Bamboo

ethical leggings from Bam Bamboo

Caters for: sizes 8 – 16

Price range: £ – ££

Bam: Bamboo’s range of ethical leggings* is the widest I’ve found.

You can shop for:

  • Full-length leggings
  • 7/8 length leggings
  • 3/4 length leggings
  • Capri leggings
  • Skirt leggings
  • Ethical leggings with pockets
  • High waisted leggings
  • Deep waist leggings

All in wide range of colourways and patterns (including plain black), that remain non-see through not matter what exercise you are doing.

Their leggings are made from bamboo, rather than recycled plastic. Clothing made from bamboo isn’t always the environmental panacea it sounds, due to the use of harsh chemicals and the resultant impacts on workers and the environment. However, I’ve taken a look at BAM: Bamboo’s practices, and they only work with bamboo fibre producers who use safe and responsible chemistry and waste treatment practices, and who are committed to investing in the technology needed to further improve their practices, processes, and chemistry where necessary.

You can check out my full review of BAM: Bamboo here.

Boody

boody

Caters for: sizes 6 – 16

Price range: £

Overwhelmed by choice and just want plain black leggings that are ethical? Boody’s black bamboo leggings* come in three lengths – three-quarter, crop, and full length. You can also choose between leggings for everyday wear or activewear leggings. The only thing you can’t choose is the colour – they all come in black! Great if you are suffering from decision fatigue!

Again, Boody manufacture their leggings from bamboo, however, they have a closed-loop system for turning the raw bamboo into a soft, silky fabric. Here, all the solvents are captured and removed safely, and the all liquid is recycled. You can find out more about their processes, ethics and accreditations here*.

Girlfriend Collective’s Ethical Leggings

Girlfriend Collective Leggings UK

Caters for: sizes XXS – 6XL

Price range: ££

US-based Girlfriend Collective sell the most inclusive ethical leggings I’ve found, offering up to a 6XL size. Their leggings for activewear are made in Asia from recycled plastic bottles, in a factory that guarantee fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labour. Their factory is also SA8000 certified.  This is a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI), which help and protect workers worldwide by providing a standardized guideline to protect the integrity of workers’ conditions and wages. SA8000 overlaps with Fair Trade certification, but while Fair Trade is predominantly used for farming, SA8000 is a certification used in factory conditions.

What’s more Girlfriend Collective has embraced circularity. Through their ReGirlfriend Scheme, Girlfriend take back your old Girlfriend pieces to turn them into brand new Girlfriend pieces, rather than being downcycled into insulation. And if the warm glow of doing something good wasn’t enough, then by way of thanks, you receive $15 USD towards a future Girlfriend purchase. Win!

Buy Girlfriend Collective leggings in the UK via Know The Origin*, which stock up to 3XL sizes. Exeter based ethical retailer Wow Sancho also stocks up to 6XL sizes.

Organic Basics Ethical Leggings

Organic Basics ethical leggings

Caters for: sizes XS – XXL

Price range: ££

Danish-based Organic Basics pride themselves on selling, well, sustainable basics fairly made in Europe from GOTS certified organic cotton or recycled materials.  They offer basic colours, timeless styles, and no seasonal collections to minimise wastage.  As such, they have a small but perfectly formed range of full-length ethical leggings* in five colourways.

Their leggings are made from recycled nylon, and their active leggings have a pocket for your phone and keys.

I have a pair of their leggings and what I especially love is that their leggings are sewn together in a way that creates no seams. This means you don’t get any irritation when you are working out, and it increases durability because there are no weak points in the garment. Organics Basics leggings do run at the more expensive end of the spectrum, however I’ve had mine for 5 years now. I’ve worn mine daily and I can confirm that they are still in pristine condition. No holes that I’ve had to repair yet!

Use discount code WENDYOBC to take 10% off your order.

People Tree

people tree activewear

Caters for: sizes 8 – 16

Price range: £

If you are looking for leggings to complement your work from home wardrobe, rather than to be active in, then try People Tree’s range of leggings*, which start from £25.

Their super soft leggings are made from 95% GOTS certified organic cotton with 5% elastane for comfort and movement. Their organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, with systems in place to replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilisers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.

They also offer yoga leggings, again made from 95% GOTS and Fair Trade certified organic cotton and 5% elastane. These leggings come with a pocket for your phone. In case you hadn’t guessed, I am all about the pockets, so this detail genuinely makes me happy!

Seasalt

Caters for: sizes 6 – 28

Price range: £

Offering inclusive sizing at a lower price point (leggings start from £18.95), Seasalt’s leggings* are made from 95% GOTS certified organic. In fact, Seasalt were the very first fashion company to achieve Soil Association GOTS certification in 2005, and they’ve continued to do great things by bringing sustainability to the high street, whilst catering for the widest range of sizes.

I have a pair of their Seadance ethical leggings, which I bought earlier this year. They are lovely and thick, and incredibly comfortable. They come in a wide range of solid colours – they’re not patterned though, and they don’t have pockets.

Thought Clothing

thought clothing leggings

Caters for: sizes 6 – 18

Price range: £

Thought’s range of reasonably priced sustainable leggings* is pretty wide. From leggings in a variety of colours, prints, you can also choose between GOTS certified organic cotton or bamboo, or leggings with a mix of organic cotton and bamboo. There is something for everyone. As well as producing their clothes ethically, what I like about Thought is that they turn their scrap fabrics into headbands, and leftover yarns into socks. They use also zero plastic packaging, which is a great additional touch.

Where to Buy Secondhand Ethical Leggings

As with any aspect of ethical clothing, the single most sustainable option is always to buy secondhand ethical leggings. Some people have qualms about secondhand clothing (particularly activewear), and others don’t. I personally don’t – a hot wash quickly dissolves any concerns. If you are similarly ok with the notion of secondhand clothing and/or activewear then here are several ideas on where to buy secondhand clothes online. And specifically for secondhand activewear, try ReRun Clothing. Their mission is to prolong the life of running clothes, so they focus solely on activewear. Their preloved leggings start from just £3 and include activewear brands such as Adidas, Superdry, Karrimor, and more.

Tell Me More About Recycled Polyester

Recycled polyester sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I mean, what’s not to love? Clothing that’s made from recycled plastic, and in some cases, recycled ocean plastic is surely the way forward? Well, it’s not that simple I’m afraid.

It’s important to know that recycled polyester isn’t a silver bullet. For regular leggings that you put on for everyday wear – for example, if you wear leggings instead of tights, or for working from home in – then I would always choose natural fibres for this use, where possible. Look for natural materials such as organic cotton.

For ethical leggings for sportswear, the main market is in recycled polyester. This is because it’s simply not possible to make leggings for sport from 100% natural fabrics, and still have the properties that we expect performance sportwear to have. The problem is that when you wash a synthetic garment, such as recycled polyester, then it sheds plastic microfibres. These end up in our oceans, rivers, and soils, which in turn end up in our marine life, in our drinking water, in the foods we eat, and ultimately in our bodies. You can wash your clothes in a microplastic catcher, such as a Guppyfriend*, but ultimately I think the responsibility should lie with the Government, clothing manufacturers, and washing machine manufacturers to come up with a solution that doesn’t shoulder responsibilty and cost on to the end user (i.e. us).

The other issue is that recycled polyester is recycled but it is not recyclable. At the end of your products life, it will probably end up in landfill, unless you shop with a brand that offers a circular recycling system. For this reason, it’s important to look after your clothes, follow the correct washing instructions, repair any tears when they appear, and wear your clothes until they wear out and are unrepairable. People change size, it happens, so in this instance, selling your clothes or passing them on to others to keep them in active use is vital.