The Best Sustainable Swimsuits of 2021

Take a dip wearing flattering, Earth-friendly swimwear this summer.

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You’re planning to make a splash with brand new swimwear this season. But conventional swimwear is a big part of the fast fashion problem. Swimwear is usually made from synthetic, petroleum-based fibers such as nylon and polyester mixed with spandex, elastane or lycra for stretch. A large proportion of this non-biodegradable swimwear ends up in the landfill or oceans once swim season is over. Moreover, there is a problem of shedding microplastic fibers when discarded in the dumps. 

However, several eco-friendly swimwear brands have entered the fray to make sexy, stretchy, quick drying, and sustainable swimwear. Even the most sustainable swimwear isn't perfect (many options aren't biodegradable and others are still difficult to recycle), but we've found companies that are making important strides in the right direction. Using innovative fabrics (see FAQs) and eco-friendly production processes, they’re ethically producing durable swimwear for all shapes and sizes.   

So, dive into our list of the best sustainable swimsuits:

The Rundown
We love Summersalt’s cute recycled swimwear collection that comes in eye-catching designs.
Aerie's Real Good Swim line is the most affordable line of eco-minded swimsuits we could find.
Stylish, sustainable, and oh so comfortable, Vitamin A’s expansive swimwear range is all about looking and doing good.
Affordable, rugged, and versatile, Patagonia’s Men’s Baggies tick all the right boxes.
Best One Pieces:
Seea Swim at Theseea.com
Recreating retro glamour and vintage styles, these swimsuits are Instagram worthy.
These versatile shorts made from recycled, quick drying polyester are perfect for taking a dip.
New Zealand-based Aurai Swim celebrates a global, conscious lifestyle.
Best Mix and Match:
Londre Swim at Londrebodywear.com
Low impact and high fun, Londre’s commitment to sustainability has recycled over 100,000 plastic bottles in Taiwan.
The founders of gender-neutral clothing company TomboyX have created unisex fashion that’s inclusive and gentle on the Earth.
With sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL, Girlfriend Collective's swimline caters to every body.

Best Overall: Summersalt Swimwear

Summersalt The High Leg Mid Rise Bikini Bottom

We love Summersalt’s cute and relatively affordable swimwear range that comes in eye-catching colors and a wide variety of styles, designed to fit you perfectly. The impeccable, free-from-wardrobe-malfunctions fit is thanks to their rigorously detailed efforts to document 1.5 million body measurements from over 10,000 women. The result: frump-free swimwear that hugs you like a dream.

The collection is made from recycled polyamide from post-consumer materials and nylon waste, such as discarded fishing nets yanked out from the oceans, blended with elastane. Offering Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50+ sun protection, the swimsuits can withstand the sun, sand, and a good soak in a chlorinated pool without sagging. Maternity swimwear, one-pieces, bikini tops and bottoms, cover ups and more, they’ve got your summer swim wardrobe covered through life.

Best Budget: Aerie Real Good Swim

Aerie Real Good Swim

Aerie's Real Good Swim line is the most affordable line of eco-minded swimsuits designed for women that we could find. They're made with 80% recycled nylon, which is sourced from pre-consumer manufacturing sources, like cutting room scraps. The other 20% of the fiber is elastane.

The collection includes lots of mix-and-match styles in solids, stripes, florals, and tie-dye. There are ones pieces and matching hats to boot. Like all swimwear, they'll last the longest if you wash them with a mild detergent and cold water.

Best for Women: Vitamin A Swim

Vitamin A Jadon One Piece

Stylish, sustainable, and oh so comfortable, Vitamin A’s luxurious and expansive swimwear range is all about looking, feeling, and doing good. The swimwear is made from fabrics such as EcoRib, a ribbed stretch material made out of nylon fabric scraps and EcoLux, a superfine matte jersey made from recycled nylon fibers, both blended with lycra for stretchiness.

The materials are OEKO-TEX certified, meaning they’ve been tested to be free from harmful substances. Committed to protecting the oceans, Vitamin A donates to 1% For the Planet. This floaty, pretty collection of beautifully designed and thoughtfully made tops, bottoms, and one pieces come in a recyclable bag that can be composted in your backyard. It’s our pick of women’s swimwear for you to get your dose of vitamin sea, guilt-free.

Best for Men: Patagonia Men's Baggies™ Shorts

Patagonia Men's Baggies™ Shorts

Affordable, rugged, and versatile, Patagonia’s Men’s Baggies in sensible solids and funky patterns tick the right boxes for sustainable men’s swimwear. The laid-back Baggies are made from 100% recycled nylon scoured from postindustrial waste fiber, fishing nets, and discards from mills. Available in 5 inch and 7 inch lengths from the inseam, you can run, hike, jog, and of course, swim in what will soon become your best loved summer gear.

They’re made in Fair Trade certified factories, which ensures better prices, decent working conditions, and fair terms for workers. The comfy, quick-drying shorts are also bluesign approved, meaning they are low impact shorts which have been manufactured using resources responsibly.

Best One Pieces: Seea Swim

Seea Cleo One Piece

From sunny California comes Seea, with one-piece swimsuits we love. Recreating retro glamour and vintage styles, these swimsuits are Instagram-worthy. Our eco-friendly pick is the Cleo with strings that can be tied like a halter top around your neck or alternatively behind your back.

It’s made from Repreve, a fabric fashioned from recycled polyester that’s sourced from plastic bottles, blended with spandex. The design is available in flattering colors and is delivered to your doorstep in a biodegradable bag, tucked in a recyclable package.

Best Swim Trunks: Riz Boardshorts

Riz Boardshorts

Available in fun prints, these elasticated, casual fit, no-fuss versatile shorts made from recycled, quick drying polyester are perfect for taking a dip or stoking up a summer BBQ. Even the mesh liner and the tie-up cord of the Blythe shorts are made from recycled polyester. We love the quirky detailing on the trunks.

They feature a tiny coin pocket on the inside and even natural corozo nut buttons. Great designs include Ocean Abundance and Endangered Bee. If that’s not enough, Riz also offers lifelong free mending services. The only downside is that these trunks are among the pricier options.

Best Two Piece: Aurai Swim

Aurai Swim

Italo-Brazilian designer Natalia Bertolo’s New Zealand-based Aurai Swim, named after Greek winged nymph messengers, celebrates a global, conscious lifestyle. The swimwear is designed using fabrics such as Econyl and Amni Eco Soul, a biodegradable polyamide that degrades in landfills (See FAQs).

Working closely with causes, it donates to NGOs Our Seas Our Future, for ocean conservation, and Paddle for Hope for cancer rehabilitation, an effort which inspired them to create mastectomy-friendly designs. Whether you’re looking for barely-there Brazilian style bikini bottoms or modest hot pants to pair with a classic bikini triangle top or crop tops, you’ll find a range of chic two-piece styles.

Best Mix and Match: Londre Swim

Londre Pink High Waisted Bikini

Low impact and high fun, Londre’s commitment to sustainability has recycled over 100,000 plastic bottles in Taiwan. Each swimsuit recycles a minimum of six bottles and the water used to produce them is recycled. Choose among the high-waisted bottom (our favorite!), high-leg scrunch bottom and the belted high-waisted bottom to pair with the sexy, low-coverage New Cclassic top, the super supportive sport scoop, or the off-shoulder asymmetrical tops.

Mix and match this adventurous swimwear, which comes in lovely solid shades Fiesta Red, Scuba Barbie Pink, or Sculpting Clay, among other patterns. Londre’s small batch production takes place in OEKO-TEX certified factories. At the end of its life, ship the worn gear back to Londre and get 20% off on your next purchase.

Best Unisex: TomboyX Swimwear

TomboyX Swim 6" Racerback Unisuit

The founders of gender-neutral clothing company TomboyX, Fran and Naomi, have created unisex fashion that’s gentle on Earth and inclusive, catering to all shapes and sizes. Their OEKO-TEX certified swimwear line, including tanks, shorts, tops, unisuits and racerback zip tops, is made at a mill which uses renewable energy and recycled water.

TomboyX swimwear uses chitosan, a sustainable and anti-microbial coating made from crab shells discarded by industrial fisheries. Mix, match, or swap, TomboyX has you covered with their UPF 50+ sun protected, well-fitted swimwear.

Our pick? The practical, black rainbow fully-lined racerback unisuit that won’t ride up awkwardly or poke you.

Holiday Savings

Best Size Range: Girlfriend Collective Swim

Girlfriend Collective Swim

With sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL, Girlfriend Collective's swimline really caters to every body. Mix and match separates in vivid colors or choose from sleek one pieces. While tropical prints can be fun, we adore the collection's focus on bold colors and shapes, like one-shoulder tops and square necklines.

Judging by the buttery material, you would never guess that the suits are made from recycled fishing nets and post-industrial waste recovered from the ocean. But it does make for a fitting story doesn't it?

Best Luxury: Evarae Sustainable Swim

Evarae Cassandra Swimsuit

Georgia Thompson founded the London-based conscious luxury label Evarae on the belief that women shouldn’t have to choose among feeling good, style, and sustainability when it comes to fashion. We agree. Evarae’s stunning Italian-made swim collection is perfect for sunning on a beach vacation or wetting your toes in your backyard paddle pool. We love Cassandra, crafted from Econyl, a regenerative fabric (See FAQs) made from plastic waste sourced from landfills and oceans.

With adjustable straps and invisible breast support, it’s stylishly comfortable (the brand recommends you buy one size up). The company uses carbon-free shipping to dispatch it to you in Earth-friendly packaging. For every online order, Evarae plants one tree. Once the swimsuit starts showing wear-and-tear, you can ship it back to them and receive 30% off your next purchase, making these scrumptious swimsuits worth every penny.

Final Verdict

For beach wear with the right eco-friendly credentials, look no further than Summersalt (view at Summersalt). For swim trunks made with sustainability in mind, check out Men's Baggies from Patagonia (view on Patagonia).

FAQs

What are the most popular sustainable swimsuit fabrics?

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes innovations to make beautiful, eco-friendly swimwear from regenerated and recycled fabrics, moving away from synthetic manmade fibers. Today, there are many options of high-performance materials that are durable, resistant to chlorine, strong enough to withstand sunlight and impervious to salt in various degrees. However, to make swimwear, they will be blended with a small proportion of spandex or other stretchy, synthetic fibers.

One of the most popular fabrics is Econyl that’s made from regenerated nylon from ocean and landfill waste. Another popular performance fiber for swimsuits is Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles. Till date, the company has recycled over 20 billion plastic bottles. Amni Soul Eco, a biodegradable polyamide yarn, is also used for beachwear. The company says it takes just five years for Amni Soul Eco to decompose, unlike conventional polyamide fibers which linger on for decades in landfills.

How can I recycle an old swimsuit?

You swum like a fish this summer and your favorite one-piece is now sagging at the seams. Fear not. You needn’t discard it, but can repurpose it with a few handy tips. Sew up the leg ends and use the arm holes to hold your new, beach-friendly tote bag. Shred it into strips that you can stuff into your quilt or use the swatches to patch up your torn jeans.

Or donate it to a quilting or sewing club who could use it in their nifty projects. If you’re deft with needlework, you can even repurpose it into a cape or a mermaid tail for your toddler’s dolls. 

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger has scoured swimwear racks so you don’t have to, to pick the best sustainable swimwear for you this summer. Looking at a different range of materials, styles, fits and varieties, we have shortlisted swimwear that is Earth-friendly and gentle on your skin. We also look for trusted third-party sustainability certifications.

Writer Neeti Mehra is a slow-living coach and a sustainability consultant who also has years of experience writing about luxury markets.