Finding the perfect swimsuit is never an easy feat. And that's before we even consider sustainability. Swimwear is inherently damaging for the planet due to its materials and manufacturing. With a hefty price-tag often attached to sustainable designer wear, it can be hard to go green too. Luckily (perhaps), skinny-dipping isn't the only way out. That is if you're willing to consider secondhand bathers. Thrifters, here's why you should consider secondhand swimwear.
Secondhand Swimsuits: True or False?
You can catch an STD or STI from a secondhand bathing suit: False
If that’s how STIs were transmitted, we’d all have them. We’re not sure who started this wild rumour but rest assured, you’re not at risk of getting an infection from secondhand swimmers. All secondhand clothes from legitimate sustainable brands will be washed and laundered before going live on the website or hung up in-store.
Side note: if you’ve ever tried on a new swimsuit on the high street before, chances are you’ve swapped cells with a few others. And, you lived to tell the tale, right?
They won’t last that long anyway: False
Swimwear can take up to two hundred years to decompose. If you think they won’t last long because they’re secondhand, you’re wrong. Swimsuits are typically made from synthetic textiles - like nylon, polyester, and spandex - as these repel water and are anti-friction. However, synthetic fabrics are terrible for the environment as they are not biodegradable. That is why so many unwanted clothes end up in landfills or floating in oceans for decades.
Secondhand swimwear supports a zero-waste lifestyle: True
By opting for secondhand swimwear, in the long term, we can reduce the stratospheric number of harmful garments going into production. This supports a zero-waste lifestyle. By increasing the life-cycle of your swimmers, you're helping remove the 14 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the ocean each year.
Do sustainable swimsuits exist?
Of course, sustainable swimwear is tricky. As, apparently, no one wants to hit the pool in a cotton one-piece or go nude, our ocean attire is continually made from microplastics - whether secondhand or not. With every wash, swimwear made from plastic materials release micro-plastics into the water which (a) lead to plastic pollution of our waterways and (b) eventually deposit in the ocean. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, a half-million metric tons of microplastics enter the ocean from washing these fabrics. We don’t need more of them in production.
We loved this campaign by Reformation who, although actively striving to manufacture sustainable swimwear, is completely open about the fact that their garments are not 100% eco-friendly. Their website caveats that “these swimsuits are not sustainable enough.”
Reformation tries to avoid using synthetic fibres in their clothing. 95% of their garments are made from biodegradable fabrics like organic cotton and viscose (made from tree pulp). As it stands, there isn’t a biodegradable material that has all the performance qualities necessary for a swimsuit to be… well, a swimsuit. This means that most green brands are seeking out the next best thing: recycled plastic.
So, what can you do?
Reformation’s swimwear campaign cleverly reminds us that there is still so much more to be done. If we want to end the reign of fast fashion and save the planet, we need to make more conscious choices when it comes to shopping.
Simply put, we need to be as sustainable as we can be - one swimsuit at a time. For now, our best bet is recycled and secondhand products. Opting for pre-loved swimwear saves on raw materials and energy, as well as prevents waste materials from going to landfill. You know what’s best.
We need to be as sustainable as we can be - one swimsuit at a time.
Looking for sustainable, secondhand swimwear of your own? Join the #nonewrevolution with us. We’re releasing a collection of secondhand bathers for all our Good-fitters and do-gooders as part of our Summer Seven series. Dropping Thursday 29th July at 10 am - Let’s make a splash. The good kind.
Now, bikini-clad and Aperol in hand, let’s save the planet.
Written by Writer and Yoga Teacher - Sophie Heatley