Updated: Apr 6
Like every superhero, our little (environmental) heroes need a costume that provides them with safety and comfort. But how can you get this from a plastic bottle? And how can you be sure that you are working with trusted partners that ensure the recycling process is done sustainably and ethically, particularly in a COVID era when traveling and visits in person are limited?
From the start of our venture, we knew that finding the right fabric would be key in making a quality product. The fabric had to have the lowest environmental impact available, yet provide all the properties of a high-end product.
In the swimsuit field, there are two main materials used and unfortunately they are both synthetic fabrics.
1) Nylon - its chemical name is polyamide, and
2) Polyester - its chemical name is Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Nylon is used for a variety of applications other than clothing, including umbrellas, reinforcement in rubber material like car tires, for use as a rope or thread, and for injection molded parts for vehicles and mechanical equipment. It is more durable and weather-resistant than polyester but also more expensive.
Polyester is found in almost every form of clothing and used to make bottles, films, sails, canoes, liquid crystal displays, holograms, filters etc. About two-thirds of all textile fibers are synthetic, and more than half are made from polyester 
Both materials are extensively used in swimwear due to their unique set of qualities. They are soft and comfortable, lightweight, strong, durable, chlorine resistant, UV protective, quick drying, abrasion resistant, breathable, hold their shape and inexpensive.
But despite the attractiveness of both materials, they are simultaneously problematic; they are petroleum-based and their durability are disproportionate to the amount of time they are used. Durable means slow degradation, which leads to accumulation in the environment.
Polyester production has a lower environmental impact than natural fibers production in terms of water usage and wastewater. However, the energy required to produce polyester and the greenhouse gas emitted make it a high-impact process. In 2015, production of polyester for textile use resulted in more than 706 billion kg of CO2e .
One way to reduce the impact on the environment is to use recycled fabric. This not only reduces already existing plastic waste, it also reduces the need for introducing new virgin plastic into the environment. It also uses less energy, which means less CO2 emission.
It's important to note that polyester sheds microfibres, so we suggests using microplastic wash bags to wash polyester clothing in the machine, which reduces fiber shedding. See our article about 9 Ways to Help Reduce Microplastics
While looking for reputable and responsible recycling companies, we came across REPREVE®, and felt their fabric was a game changer. REPREVE® is the number one, branded recycled fiber in the world and their transparency, traceability and certification convinced us we were choosing the right partner.
Get in the loop with REPREVE®. Recycle. Buy recycled.
Check out the below video on how REPREVE® recycled polyester is made.
As a small company, we don't have the resources to meticulously audit the entire process from the bottle collection all the way to the fabric weaving through the yarn production. It is simply too big of a task. Furthermore, with Covid-19, it is difficult to travel and audit the factories, however, selecting trusted and certified partners is paramount for us. Until traveling is more open, virtual audit will be our approach. Click here to learn more about our trusted partners.
We are closely following updates and innovative fabric developments to provide you with the best fabric with the lowest environmental impact . If you want to know more about the polyester clothing value chain and some key intervention points for sustainability, we highly recommend reading this article.
 Kirchain, R., Olivetti, E., Reed Miller, T. & Greene, S. Sustainable Apparel Materials (Materials Systems Laboratory, 2015).