Looking for recycled swimwear made from plastic bottles or discarded fishing nets? 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+
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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. In fact, any clothing made from recycled plastic 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.
Image in header used courtesy of Organic Basics