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

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

The Food & Drink Items That Shockingly Contains Microplastic

microplastic in food and drink items

Did you know that some food items contain microplastic? Worryingly, here are eight key food and drink items that have been found to contain microplastic.

Nobody would willingly chow down on a bowlful of plastic. However, over the past few years, scientists have horrifyingly been finding microplastic in some of the most common food that we eat and the beverages that we drink. In fact, one study estimates that we each could be consuming as much as 5 grams of plastic a week. That’s the equivalent weight of a credit card. Over the course of a year, that’s 52 credit cards. Yikes!

Firstly, What Is Microplastic And Where Does It Come From?

Before looking at which foodstuffs contain microplastic, let’s first understand what microplastic is, and where it comes from.

Microplastics are what we call fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm in length. Sometimes these are visible to the human eye, other times they are so small that they cannot be seen.

Microplastics come from a variety of sources. Some microplastics are produced for commercial use, such as the cosmetics industry. Microbeads are banned. Yet other cosmetics like makeup and sunscreen (yes, sunscreen contains microplastic) are permitted to contain microplastic.

Other microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastic items. These include plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and other items made of plastic. Microplastics are also shed from synthetic clothing when washed, and other textiles, such as fishing nets. Car tyres are also a major source of ocean microplastics. Meanwhile, paint flaking off of marine vessels is also a source. In short, there’s no single source, which makes it difficult to turn off the tap when it comes to microplastic.

Microplastics enter our food chain when they enter our oceans and waterways, and enter our soil. When microplastics are in the food we eat and that water we drink, this means we are ingesting plastic. The long-term effects of consuming plastic are not yet fully understood by scientists. However, microplastics have found in the placentas of unborn babies, in human faeces, and in our organs, such as our lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys.

The Food That Contains Microplastic

the food that contains microplastics

Now we know more about microplastic, here are the food and drink items that scientists have found to contain microplastic.

Fruit & Vegetables

Italian researchers found microplastic in fruit and vegetables. Apples and carrots have the highest levels of microplastic particles. However, microplastics appeared in other crops such as pears, broccoli, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, and turnips.

Contamination in fruit and vegetables is thought to occur when plants suck water that contains microplastics up through their roots. The microplastic pass into the shoots, and form the edible parts of the plants. Fruit is more highly contaminated than vegetables. This is because fruit trees are older with deeper, more established root systems, and so they take in more water compared to vegetables.

Salt

Would you like some microplastic on your chips? Yup, research has found microplastics in 90% of table salt brands sampled from across the globe. This means that even if the food you eat doesn’t contain microplastic, then what you season it with probably does. The bad news is that microplastic in salt isn’t geographically isolated to one part of the world. Therefore it’s impossible to find a salt that doesn’t contain microplastic. Sea salt has the highest concentration of microplastic, followed by lake salt and then rock salt.

Tea

Microplastics aren’t just found in the food we eat, but also in the beverages we drink. Tea, for example, contains microplastic. This is because teabags are heat-sealed using polypropylene plastic, to stop tea bags from breaking. Other brands use plastic mesh tea temples in place of paper-based tea bags. The good news is that some brands have started to phase out the use of plastic in their teabags. Check out my post on plastic-free teabags for an updated list for 2021.

Bottled Water

If you’re thinking sod tea, I’ll just stick to water, then I’ve got bad news. Tap water contains microplastic. If this news makes you want to pass on tap water, then the bad news is that bottled water contains even more microplastic. In fact, researchers found that bottled water contains roughly twice as many plastic particles compared to tap water. And it was also found that the single largest source of plastic ingestion globally is through water, both bottled and tap.

It’s not entirely clear why bottled water is more contaminated. It could be contaminated source water. However, it is more likely that it has come from the plastic polymers used to make the bottles and bottle caps.

Reach for the tap – it’s better all round.

Beer

Bad news, beer lovers. In 2020, scientists found microplastic in beer. The study looked at a variety of beverages. Whilst microplastics were found in most of the beverages studied, beer was found to have the highest levels of microplastics.

Whilst the average number of particles found in beer was similar to the average number of particles found in tap water, water supply isn’t always a factor. Another study found that two beers brewed in the same city using the same municipal water supply had wildly different microplastic levels. This suggests the beer production process may also generate microplastics.

Rice

Fancy a side of plastic with your curry? A 2021 study found that microplastic is found in packaged rice. Regardless of whether the rice was packaged in paper or plastic, the type of packaging made no difference. And worryingly, pre-cooked rice (such as sachets of microwavable rice) contains four times as much plastic. The takeaway here is to try to avoid instant rice, and instead cook your own.

The researchers tried a number of methods to see if they could reduce the concentration of microplastic in rice. They found that shaking the rice in its packaging made no difference in the concentration of plastics. However, they did hit top tip gold. Washing your rice before cooking reduces plastic contamination by 20 to 40%.

Fish & Shellfish

Unsurprisingly, samples of fish and shellfish contain microplastic. Zoologists believe that this has come from fish ingesting microplastics found in water or on the seafloor, or by ingesting prey that have previously ingested microplastics themselves. Commercially farmed fish are also likely to be fed fishmeal that inadvertently contains microplastic.

Not all seafood is equal though. Since microplastics usually start out in an animal’s gut, seafood which includes the animal’s stomach, like mussels, oysters, shrimp, prawns, and other filter-feeding sea life, may be more likely to contain higher levels of microplastic.

Honey

I think the most worrying find on my microplastic and food research mission was finding out that honey contains microplastic.

Bees are the most infinitely complex and fascinating creatures. The bodies and legs of bees are covered in thousands of tiny hairs. When bees are in flight, these tiny hairs become positively charged. This is partly because of the friction of the air against the bee. When a positively charged bee lands on a flower, it attracts the negatively charged pollen grains. These grains then naturally stick to the bees’ hair.

It’s a whole world of wonder. And you’re probably wondering where the microplastic comes into play? Well, it’s not just pollen that the tiny hairs on bees collect and hold. These positively charged hairs also attract other matter. Traditionally this would have been bits of plant matter or dust, but it seems that bees are now also attracting airborne plastic. This plastic gets taken back to the hive, and consequently ends up in honey.

Where or who you buy your honey from seems to have little impact on the concentration of microplastic in each jar. One team of Danish scientists studied bees from hives located in different settings. Some hives were located in a city, and other hives were located in suburban and rural areas. It was anticipated that the bees located in urban areas would present the highest counts of microplastics. This is because urban areas contain the highest densities of microplastics. And indeed, the city bees did have the highest counts of microplastics. However, the surprising find was that the counts of microplastics on suburban and rural bees were not much lower. This highlights the role of wind in dispersing microplastics.  

So What To Do About Microplastic In Food?

microplastic in food and drink items

The probability is that microplastic is in the vast majority of the food that we eat and the things we drink. What’s more, it’s also in the air that we breathe. A study at Macquarie University in Sydney took samples of airborne dust from homes, where it was found that 40% of it was plastic. There’s simply no way to avoid microplastic.

Microplastic is a global problem that we as individuals alone can’t solve. What’s more, there isn’t one single solution to eliminating microplastic from the food we eat. Scientific American says that according to microplastic experts, in order to get a handle on our microplastic problem, the world needs to take three primary steps.

In the short term society needs to significantly curtail unnecessary single-use plastic items such as water bottles, plastic shopping bags, straws, and utensils. In the medium term, governments need to strengthen garbage collection and recycling systems to prevent waste from leaking into the environment between the trash can and the landfill and to improve recycling rates. And in the long run, scientists need to devise ways to break plastic down into its most basic units, which can be rebuilt into new plastics or other materials.”

I would add a fourth primary step. That is that corporations need to reconsider their packaging and consider alternatives away from throwaway plastics as a matter of urgency. The worst plastic polluters include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive. These companies have a huge responsibility to curtail their plastic packaging and plastic usage.

Where Do We Begin?

In the interim, I think that instead of asking whether it is dangerous to eat apples or drink water or beer that contains microplastics, we should instead use this knowledge as a conversation starter. Discussing, as a society – including consumers, governments, scientists, and manufacturers – just how and when we should use various types of plastic materials feels like a good way forward. As a society, we can and must do better, and finding ways to turn the tap off on microplastics is imperative.