Trying to find sustainable swimwear is hard. Not only do you want something that's cute and flattering, but you also want something that's made with the planet in mind.
But don't stress: Before clicking "add to cart" on something from a fast fashion brand, here's everything you should know about the current options on the market—and how to choose a more eco-friendly pick.
The Problem with Traditional Swimsuits
Past data shows as of 2017, polyester and Spandex make up about 65% of the fabrics used in the swimwear market—both of which are synthetic fabrics. Another thing those fabrics have in common is that they're both made out of petroleum, a nonrenewable resource.
Using fossil fuels to create synthetic fabrics requires large amounts of energy—both in the extraction and manufacturing processes. Not only that, but the fast fashion industry—which primarily uses synthetic fabrics—is the planet’s third-largest polluter, releasing 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The end-of-life of traditional swimsuits is also an issue. Most aren’t high-quality enough to last for years to come, and when it's time to get rid of them, donating them isn't typically an option. Unlike other secondhand clothing, used swimsuits can be hard to resell.
While textile recycling is an option for many fabrics, the synthetic materials swimsuits are made of are notoriously difficult to recycle. So when they can't be donated or resold, the swimsuits wind up in one final destination: the landfill.
Why to Choose Sustainable Swimwear
Opting for sustainable swimwear is key. It's not only made with the planet in mind, but won’t harm the environment once it's too worn out to wear.
Between the eco-friendly materials and ethical labor practices, these sustainable swimwear picks are worth every cent. And, better yet, each option below has been tested by a Brightly team member to make choosing the best option easier than ever.
7 Sustainable Swimwear Picks, Tested by the Brightly Team
1. Youswim Eva One-Piece, $139
"I'm obsessed with this swimsuit, which is a sentence I didn't think I'd ever hear coming out of my mouth. It truly is 'one size fits all'—it's comfy and stretches while still being super flattering. I need it in every color!" —Laura
"I love my Patagonia one-piece swimsuit. The color is a beautiful blue and the fit is super flattering. It’s also two-sided, so you essentially get two swimsuits for the price of one. The fit is perfect for active swimming and surfing, just as the website promises. Also a very important point for me: The swimsuit is Fair Trade Certified sewn." —Liza
3. Wolven Santorini Swimsuit, $134
Top: Santorini One Shoulder Top, $62
Bottom: Santorini Reversible High-Waisted Bikini Bottom, $72
"The texture of a Wolven swimsuit has no comparison. It’s made up of 84% RPET and 16% spandex derived from recycled water bottles, yet it doesn’t have the same slick feeling one might expect. The bonus of this softer material is that many of their swim tops feel comfortable enough to wear as a workout bra or undershirt. If you’re in between sizes, I would recommend sizing up for your perfect fit. However, their tighter fits make for great support.” —Alyssa
4. prAna Tie Bikini, $125
Top: Vivienne Top, $65
Bottom: La Plata Bottom, $60
"I'm a sucker for bikini tops that tie in the front. They're always so flattering! This one is especially great because it has a secure back and adjustable straps to keep everything in place. I also like that the bottoms aren't cheeky. They provide a lot more coverage than other options, and have side ties so you can perfectly fit them to your body. Another pro: The sustainable swimsuit was made from recycled materials in a Fair Trade Certified factory." —Tehrene
5. Ansea Reversible Sporty Bikini, $270
Top: The Reversible Sporty Top, $125
Bottom: The Reversible High-Waist Bottom, $145
"I got Ansea’s Reversible Sporty Top and Reversible High-Wasted Bottom. I love the colors and fit. Since both pieces are reversible, you get four swimsuits in one! Both pieces are made in New York from Econyl regenerated nylon, which is a fabric made entirely from ocean and landfill waste (such as industrial plastic and fabric scraps). How cool is that?" —Liza
6. SEPTEMBER Eden Swimsuit, $180
Top: Eden Top, $88
Bottom: Alice Reversible Bottom, $92
"This might be one of the cutest swimsuits I've ever owned. I don't always love the way high-waisted bottoms look on me (I don't have a long torso!), but this one is super flattering. I also love the square neck top. The material is amazing, too. It's really comfortable; it's a soft, luxury Italian recycled fabric that comes complete with SPF 50. Basically, I'll be wearing it all summer long!" —Tehrene
7. Summersalt The Ruffle Backflip, $95
"My Summersalt suit is so chic and versatile. I love a suit that's comfortable enough to surf in, yet elevated enough to enjoy a swanky pool club. I even wore it out to dinner with linen pants! I'll be wearing mine all summer long." —Kendall