8th June marks World Oceans Day. This year’s conservation action focus is ‘encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future’. I briefly mentioned microfibres in my previous post but today I’m going to look at our global plastic problem a little more closely. There are huge efforts going on to stop the plastic pollution of our oceans. Greenpeace are currently running an ‘End Ocean Plastics’ campaign, sampling water for microplastics off the coast of Scotland and documenting the impact of ocean plastic on marine life; the Marine Conservation Society are running the Plastic Challenge this month, challenging participants to go plastic free for the month of June, offering starter packs, tips and support to those taking part; eye-opening documentary A Plastic Ocean was released on Netflix earlier this year, highlighting the serious environmental impact of our destructive, disposable lifestyles; and there are countless other organisations, schemes and campaigns happening around the globe to fight back against plastic pollution, from beach clean-ups to a ‘Beat the Microbead’ app.
In the past ten years, we’ve created more plastic than we did in the last century. That’s a lot of plastic. In fact, five trillion pieces of the stuff are currently floating in our oceans. It comes from disposable shopping bags, water bottles, microbeads in cosmetics, toothbrushes, lighters, straws and all the other millions of things that are made from plastic that we use every day.
The problem is it doesn’t biodegrade, rather it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, posing a serious hazard to marine life. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and ingest them, fish eat microplastics and microfibres which are then in turn introduced into our food chain and 90% of sea birds have swallowed plastic in their lifetime.
It’s a challenging issue that needs tackling from every side. Which brings us to swimwear. If you’re going to enjoy our oceans, it makes sense to respect them too, so increasingly swimwear brands are actively trying to reduce waste and incorporate recycled plastics into their products. So who are the brands trying to save our oceans?
AURIA blend sustainability with playful, contemporary design. Launched by Diana Auria in 2013, the brand was founded upon principals of sustainability; focusing on a tight supply chain, responsibly sourced fabrics and environmental responsibility. AURIA swimwear is crafted from Econyl, a yarn created from Nylon waste, including fishing nets, carpets and fabric scraps. It’s completely regenerable, forming a closed loop system.
adidas x Parley
adidas have teamed up with Parley to transform marine plastic pollution into footwear and high performance activewear. When the Parley Ultraboost dropped it felt like a big step for the future of the use of recycled plastic and they swiftly followed suit with a swimwear line, created from a chlorine-resistant, Econyl-based compression fabric.
Launched for SS17, Weekday’s new swimwear collection is made from recycled polyamide. Channelling a minimal aesthetic, subtle ribbing, high necklines and chunky buckles provide all the contemporary detailing needed.
LIAR the Label
Another brand championing Econyl, Byron Bay-based LIAR the Label donate 10% of their ‘Exoskeleton’ collection to Marine Conservation and plan to partner with more environmental organisations in future.
Launched in 2013, GREENLEE SWIM design and manufacture their swimwear in Los Angeles. As well as using 82-83% recycled fibres in the manufacturing of their products, they also partner with and support organisations such as Global Green USA, Heal The Bag, HoneyLove.org and The Rain Forest Partnership.
OceanZen founder Steph Gabriel has a degree in Environmental Marine Sciene and, having been involved in a series of research projects around the world, from coral reef analysis to researching humpback whales in Ecuador, she created the brand in order to help protect the oceans. The fabric is made from recycled fishing nets and plastic bottles, salvaged from the ocean and crafted into bold, sunshine-infused mix and match separates.
Hi, love your post! Great that more suppliers are using recycled synthetic fibres. However will they release microplastic into the ocean when in use? As I haven’t found swim wear without synthetic fibres, are all equally bad, or are some releasing less microplastic?
Hi Camilla, glad you like the post! You make a really good point and it’s something I’ve thought a lot about since writing the post. It’s likely that as they’re synthetic they will release microplastics, so the best thing I can advise is to invest in a Guppyfriend laundry bag or something similar in order to catch them. You could also look at natural fabrics but I’m not sure how they’d stand up to use in water.