All swimwear is plastic
Did you know that all swimwear is made of plastic? The most common types of fabric used for swimwear are elastane, polyester and nylon. Nylon is a type of plastic derived from crude oil, polyester is a manufactured synthetic fiber, a plastic derived from petroleum and elastane is a synthetic fabric made from polyurethane. This means that when a consumer disposes of a swimwear garment, it will take 20-200 years to decompose.
Finding an alternative
When creating SunDaze, we knew that we needed to look for an alternative. That's when we learned more about recycled nylon and more specifically, ECONYL®. It's an innovative and technologically advanced material made with a special closed-loop production process. The fiber is of high-quality, as strong, durable, and flexible as the raw material from oil.
Aquafil manufacturers ECONYL® and has over 30 years of experience in nylon recycling. They have been making it since 2011. So, how is it made?
How ECONYL® is made
ECONYL® production occurs through a closed-loop process, with a locally-based mechanical regeneration system that doesn't require chemicals. It involves the condensation polymerization of a plastic solution.
Discarded nylon materials are first broken down into monomers with the use of steam and high temperatures. Nylon monomers are then transformed into polymers through a process called 'Condensation Polymerisation'.
The process eliminates water and forms a big repeating molecule to create recycled nylon sheets that are then shredded into chips. The nylon chips are then melted and extruded through a heated spinneret to form long filaments. The resulting nylon fibers are then spun into yarns, which are woven into fabrics by textile manufacturers. An example of a resulting fabric used for swimwear is Carvico Vita.
The end material is extremely soft, comfortable, breathable, flexible and quick-drying with excellent moisture control properties.
Too good to be true?
You may wonder, is it too good to be true? Perhaps. As with every fabric, ECONYL® has pros and cons.
While ECONYL is a fantastic initiative that reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% compared to the material from oil, it still uses microfibers. These tiny plastic particles are released from synthetic fibres, including ECONYL®.
Every time you wash a synthetic fabric, millions of microfibers are released into the water. Microfibers are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, which means that they end up back in our waterways and oceans.
Luckily, there are many things we can do to minimise this process. One of the main things when relating it to our surf swimwear, is the washing process. This is key in prolonging the life and minimising the release of microfibers. When hand washing cold, up to 50% less fibers are released.
If you need to machine wash your garment, you can also install a washing machine filter and wash on a cold cycle. A washing machine filter works by both reducing shedding and capturing up to 80% of the released microfibers in its mesh.
Nylon is almost infinitely recyclable
What happens when your garment reaches the end of its life? It can be recycled again! Aquafil not only recycles nylon, it also recaptures discarded ECONYL® fabric products for another round of recycling. In this way, ECONYL® forms part of an endless recycling process which drastically reduces fabric waste. A great step forward towards a more circular future, which we want to be a part of.
Sustainable choices towards a more circular future
Finally, in addition to using ECONYL® fabric, we also take other steps towards a more sustainable and circular future. For example, we strive not to use any plastic, we use wash bags instead of packaging, our thank you card doubles as wall art and we use Kraft hygiene liners instead of plastic alternatives. We also offer customers the option to ship carbon neutral.
We are always looking for new ways to improve our brand by making more conscious choices and innovate where we can. Transparency is key for us. We are a small business, so unfortunately our resources can be limited at times. But as we grow, our carbon footprint won't grow with us.