4 things you can do this swimsuit season to save money, be more sustainable and offset the environmental effects of ‘fast fashion’

Since the turn of the century, despite the slowdown imposed by COVID-19, fashion production has ore than doubled. Experts say it is likely to triple again by 2050. Nine times as much polyester is produced now than in the 1970s, and polyester is a key ingredient in swimsuits and ‘athleisure’ wear. Worse still, some studies show that as much as 50% of the clothing now produced will never actually be worn.

We know that this level of production, especially of polyester materials that ultimately come from fossil fuels, is not sustainable. But what can we actually do about it, as individuals? More than you might think. Here are 5 ‘small steps to do better’ we can all achieve in 2023.






  • Don’t buy a new suit (or two, or three) every year.

Keep last year’s suit until it actually wears out, or until it no longer fits. Make better memories in the clothes you have. After all, no new garment is as green or as sustainable as getting another season out of a piece you already own! Of course, to keep that up long term, you’ll have to start buying suits that aren’t intended to be essentially disposable. Which leads us to the next step:

  • Buy better quality swimsuits when you do buy them.

One of the things making fast fashion such a vicious circle is the utter lack of durability in swimsuits and many other garments. We might only plan on getting 2 or 3 wears out of a suit, so what do we care if it rips? We ‘needed a new one anyway’. But we didn’t, and we don’t. Spending a very little but extra with a good quality clothier could get you a suit that lasts 2, 3 or even 10 times as long.

The more we turn away form ‘essentially disposable’ fashion, the more durable, high quality goods will become available. A ‘virtuous circle’ to replace the vicious circle of fast fashion.

  • Don’t just buy durable, buy sustainable, ethically made items.

Make suppliers really work for your fashion spend. Demand clothing that is made of renewable materials, which were themselves grown in ecologically friendly ways. Where you can, look for short supply lines – buy clothing made of local materials where possible.

Just imagine the ecological impact of a synthetic material swimsuit made out of dwindling petroleum supplies in Asia, shipped a quarter of the way around the world to be cut and sewn (and like as not, the offcuts simply dumped), then halfway around the world by container ship to the retailer.

You will almost certainly pay more for ethically made items of clothing, but it will be well worth it. 

  • Don’t throw out your old or worn swimwear. Upcycle instead!

Most swimsuits are destined for the landfill. Their fibres are not biodegradable, or recyclable. But form a sustainability point of view, that is just about the worst fate for them. Instead, learn the art of clothing repair, upcycling and good old-fashioned make-do-and-mend.

Repairing a worn suit, a torn strap or a split seam isn’t that had of a skill to master. You won’t even need a sewing machine. While you’re at it, redesign the piece. Add some colour, or a skirt. Don’t just fix it, improve it. Put the ‘up’ back in upcycling. You might even work your way into a ‘side hustle’ selling your upcycled creations on sites like vintage.

We all need to make better choices when buying swimwear, and clothes in general. These are just a few of the ways you can do your part!

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