The fashion industry is currently one of the most polluting industries in the world. From water pollution, waste accumulation, and biodiversity loss, to soils degradation and rainforest destruction, the environmental impacts of the industry are significant and cannot stay unignored.
However, the last few years, as a result of a raising consciousness/awareness of the industry’s many impacts – whether they be social, psychological or environmental – one part of the fashion industry has been focusing on innovation, driven by a will to significantly reduce its impacts.
Thanks to this constant push towards a more circular and sustainable system, many options are now available to avoid buying from unethical and unsustainable brands. In this sense, thegreenlabels actively works at making sustainable fashion more accessible to everyone by offering a selection of sustainable brands selling a wide variety of products from ready-to-wear, to shoes and accessories.
Sustainable swimwear, a challenging sector
Yet, today the vast majority of swimsuits on the market are made from synthetic fabrics, the latter being favoured for their performance qualities such as durability and resistance to chlorine, saltwater and sunlight. By requiring massive amounts of energy and petroleum to be produced, these synthetic fabrics come at a cost to the environment. It is indeed estimated that up 40% of man-made plastic waste in the oceans are nylon, as it is not biodegradable. Such synthetic fabrics are more specifically well known to make up an estimated 35% of microplastic that enters the ocean, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Fortunately, sustainable swimsuits are slowly making a place for themselves on the swimwear market, mainly thanks to the advancement of recycled and regenerated materials.
ECONYL® for a circular future
Created by the Italian firm Aquafil, ECONYL is regenerated nylon made from synthetic waste and currently the most commonly used sustainable swimwear fabric on the market. Pioneer of a closed loop regeneration process, Aquafil’s ECONYL is infinitely recyclable and offers the same quality as virgin raw nylon. It can be recycled, recreated and remoulded again and again without using its performance.
“For every 10,000 tons of ECONYL® raw material, we are able to save 70,000 barrels of crude oil and avoid 65,100 tonnes of CO2 eq. emissions”
To produce ECONYL regenerated nylon, the waste can come from 4 different sources:
- Old carpets destined for landfills
- Fishing nets as used by our label Augustine Amsterdam
- Pre-consumer waste such as plastic bottles used by Clo Stories
- Special Take Back projects to recover materials at end-use based on partnerships with institutions, organizations, private and public associations and companies
This regeneration system focuses on 4 main steps, forming a closed loop which uses less water and creates less waste than traditional nylon production methods.
While ECONYL pioneered the regeneration system for nylon and is currently the most commonly used fabric in swimwear, it is important to note that many companies are now producing their own high-quality regenerated nylon, certified by GRS.
OUR RECYCLED NYLON SWIMWEAR
Did you know that regenerated nylon is also commonly used in sustainable activewear? Brands such as Girlfriend Collective and Organic Basics use recycled nylon for the vast majority of their activewear products.
OUR RECYCLED NYLON ACTIVEWEAR
The downside & the future of sustainable fabrics
While regenerated nylon, such as ECONYL, offers many opportunities and is a great way to help cleaning up waterways and repurposing trash, it is important to remember that it is still “plastic”, which can release microfibres. To minimize its impact, there are however numerous steps you can take to take the most of our recycled nylon items, such as washing your items by hand or using a wash bag/filter in your washing machine, such as the Guppyfriend washing bag.
To answer to this issue, new technologies are also currently being developed such as Amni Soul Eco, the world’s first recyclable and biodegradable polyamide. Instead of focusing on reducing waste, Amni Soul Eco has considered the end-of-life for its yarns. While the yarn is as resistant and durable as other polyamide yarns when worn, it has the particularity to biodegrade within 5 years into organic matter and biogas in a landfill environment.
Written by Manon Peronnet