Holiday season is just around the corner - hurrah! And while it’s almost time to relax, being more responsible and environmentally-friendly with our wardrobes is just as important now as it is the rest of the year.
There are lots of great ways to act more ethically including hand-me-downs from friends and family; buying pre-loved clothing; or even kids clothing rental, but if you are buying new, then it’s important to support more sustainable brands, like those at My Little Green Wardrobe.
As well as buying your children summer outfits made from sustainably-sourced organic cotton, one of the key additions to your little one’s wardrobe will be their swimsuits.
But what exactly is eco swimwear?
Here we look at the key points and help you navigate the choppy waters of children’s swimwear.
What is a normal swimsuit made from?
Conventional swimwear is made from man-made fabrics like polyester, spandex and nylon which are derived from oil.
This is a problem because:
- oil is a finite resource which is being rapidly depleted;
- the carbon emissions involved in extracting the resources and creating the fabric are incredibly high;
- millions of micro-plastics are shed during the garment’s use phase, and
- the fabric isn’t biodegradable at the end of its life, taking hundreds of years to break down.
What is eco swimwear?
As with everything to do with sustainability, the idea is progression not perfection and this is the case with eco swimwear too.
It’s unlikely that sustainable swimming costumes will have zero impact - they will leave a footprint but just ideally a smaller one. Eco swimwear seeks to improve on the standards and processes that are the accepted norms in the fashion and textile industry.
This could be through choice of materials and components, dyes and chemicals, carbon emissions, labour practices in the supply chain etc.
The brand may also support good causes and give back to local or environmental charities.
What is an eco-friendly swimming costume made from?
Let’s face it, most swimwear - even eco swimwear - is still going to be made from synthetic man-made fabrics.
There are a growing number of brands that use natural fibres eg. hemp - but they will always need some element of synthetic material added to the mix to give the fit and performance that we’ve come to expect.
For the demands children place on swimwear, the material needs to be particularly high-performance: tough, quick-drying, long-lasting, easy to get on and off, and with a high UPF to protect against the sun.
The brands we stock at My Little Green Wardrobe all use recycled plastic to produce their swimwear.
Some brands use polyester made from recycled plastic bottles which are then spun into a new yarn.
There are others who use an innovative new fabric called ECONYL, which directly tackles plastic pollution in the ocean by taking nylon waste from discarded fishing nets.
It also uses things like carpet offcuts, industrial plastic and fabric scraps. This waste is then turned into a high-performance swimwear fibre.
More sustainable swimwear also makes use of non-toxic dyes and components, as well as ensuring workers are paid a fair wage and that decent conditions are met in the supply chain.
The best kids eco swimwear brands
1. Muddy Puddles
Tried and trusted kids outdoor brand Muddy Puddles know a thing or two about high-performance outerwear.
All their swimwear is made from 100% recycled materials including recycled polyester sourced from recycled plastic bottles, as well as recycled spandex to give a great fit.
Their suppliers are GRS-certified (the Global Recycling Standard is a stringent certification that accounts for environmental and labour practices) and all dyes and components comply with the Oeko-Tex 100 standard which means they are non-toxic and safe for children.
In designing their swimwear collection the brand’s buying director, Suky Arneaud told me:
“There were some heavier-weight fabrics, but what we found… [was] if the kids go in the water and it’s a bit chillier, once they’re out the heavier ones take longer to dry.
"So, actually you want something in the middle that will dry quickly but isn't going to fall apart. It’s quite important to have that balance.”
Kids sustainable clothing experts Frugi have you covered for bright, bold and beautiful swimwear for your babies and toddlers. And the great news is that it ticks the ethical box as well.
Frugi’s children’s swimwear is made from 85% recycled polyester, Repreve - a high quality certified recycled fibre made from plastic bottles.
It is sun safe with a high UPF50+ meaning delicate skin is protected all day long from the burning sun.
It’s also chlorine safe meaning it retains its shape for longer.
Turtledove London does a super classy swimwear range for babies and up - that will delight you and your little ones.
Made from ECONYL, and the likes of discarded fishing nets, you can rest safe in the knowledge that your little one’s surfsuit has helped clean up the environment in some way.
What’s more it has the highest UV protection of 50+, is sun cream safe, and ultra chlorine safe meaning it’ll last the many trips to the pool and seaside over the summer holidays.
Now all that remains is which awesome ethical style to choose…