Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
There is no shortage of beautiful, eco-friendly, and high-quality swimwear made from recycled materials. There are more than a few brands using ECONYL, for example, which is made using regenerated nylon fibers that come from old fish nets and other similar materials that would otherwise just fill up landfills. (And we’ve included some of those brands in this article.)
But what if you want a plastic-free swimsuit that’s actually free from synthetic materials and made with natural and/or organic fabrics instead?
Well, those are a lot harder to find, and in some cases, apparently impossible (as of right now). But we’ve searched high and low and in this guide, we are bringing you the best organic cotton, hemp, and plant-based swimwear for the whole family. And in the cases where plastic-free, organic bathing suits aren’t available, we’re giving you the best alternative options to choose from.
P.S. Here are some related guides you might be interested in to refresh your warm weather wardrobe:
- the best organic & non-toxic beach towels
- where to find sandals and flip flops made from natural materials
- our top picks for organic shorts for the whole family
- the most high-quality organic tees and tank tops
- the comfiest, flowiest dresses made from non-toxic materials
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we might earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine.
Featured image credit: Natasha Tonic
These Bathing Suits Are Made from Organic Cotton, Natural Hemp, & Other Plant-Based Fabrics (Well, Mostly…)
Natasha Tonic (Our Top Choice)
Materials: Organic cotton, hemp, and 4-7% nylon or lycra
Carries: Two-piece sets (sold separately so you can mix and match), one-pieces, and activewear
Made in: USA
Price range: $50-$168
Natasha Tonic’s gorgeous organic cotton + hemp swimwear comes in bright solid colors, standard blacks and whites, tye-dyes, and more. She carries a wide range of designs, whether you’re looking for a high-waisted bottom with a one-shouldered top, more of a stringy bikini, or even a bodysuit. Most of her pieces can actually serve multiple purposes—swimwear, lingerie, or activewear.
Everything from Natasha Tonic is designed, dyed (with non-toxic dyes of course), and sewn ethically in sunny Los Angeles. They are committed to ethical and sustainable transparency throughout their entire supply chain.
Hanna Andersson (Best for Babies & Kids)
Materials: Recycled nylon, recycled poly, spandex,
Carries: Baby swimwear, rash guards, one- and two-pieces, trunks for babies and kids
Made in: Various countries
Price range: $35-$48
I’ve got bad news. We’ve searched all over for plastic-free swimwear for kids, and we haven’t been able to find any brands making it!
BUT, some brands are definitely better than others.
Hanna Andersson seems to be the best option we can find so far… They use mostly recycled materials (again, not free from synthetics or plastics), but they are OEKO-TEX certified, which means they’ve been tested to be free from a long list of toxic substances.
They also have a really large collection, from little baby rash guard suits for boys and girls, to all kinds of one-pieces, two-pieces, and trunks for boys and girls up to size 12. Their patterns and colors are suuuper cute, too.
Their fabrics are also fast-drying and protect your kids’ skin from UVA/UVB rays.
Other options for eco-friendly and non-toxic swimwear for kids
Here are some more brands that carry eco-friendly swimwear for kids that is NOT natural, organic, or plastic-free, but is made from partially recycled and/or organic materials and is OEKO-TEX certified to be non-toxic:
- Primary is similar to Hanna Andersson in that it’s made from recycled synthetic materials, but it is OEKO-TEX certified. They also have a lot of options to choose from for both babies and kids.
- Seaesta Surf has a collection of super cute board shorts made from 52% organic cotton fabric and 48% recycled polyester. Additionally, their rash guards and one-pieces are made from partially recycled materials.
- Pacifics Rainbow’s collection of kids’ swimwear is made from synthetic material, but it’s OEKO-TEX certified.
- Elle Evans has a great collection of recycled swimwear for tweens and teens (as well as kids and women).
- Boden has a large collection of recycled swimwear for the whole family.
Rawganique (Best for Men)
Materials: Organic hemp and linen
Made in: USA
Price range: $74-$89
Unfortunately, it’s slim-picking when it comes to plastic-free, organic swim trunks for men as well. But Rawganique has a collection of organic and hemp swim shorts that are completely non-toxic. (They can even remove the elastic waistband for a pair of 100% natural trunks.)
These shorts also double as great loungewear for hanging around the pool or taking a walk on the beach. Everything from Rawganique is sweatshop-free, non-GMO, and free from formaldehyde, PFAs, heavy metals, pesticides, or any other harsh chemicals. If you or someone you love is extremely chemically-sensitive, Rawganique is a great brand to check out.
Other options for eco-friendly swimwear for men
If you want something that’s more athletic or just has a different aesthetic, here are some other pretty good options:
- Billabong has a couple of pairs of trunks made from 53% hemp, 44% recycled polyester, and 3% elastane.
- Afends has a pair of trunks with a very similar blend (hemp, recycled polyester, and a little bit of elastane).
- Vuori has some pretty good all-day board shorts made from partially recycled materials.
Vitamin A (Best for Active Water Sports)
Carries: One pieces, two pieces, activewear, rash guards,
Made in: California, USA
Price range: $170-$295
Although a lot of their bathing suits are made from recycled materials, they also have a “plant-based” collection, which is plastic-free.
This collection is made out of BioSculpt fabric, which is a polymer that’s made from castor beans. It has a lot of the properties of synthetic fabric—it’s durable and stretchy, it dries pretty quickly, and it’s super smooth.
As a brand, Vitamin A is committed to ethical and sustainable practices throughout their supply chain, too. They do regular beach cleanups, they give back 1% of profits to environmental non-profits, and they use recycled and biodegradable packaging.
Oh, and this collection is gorgeous, too.
Patagonia (Best for Neoprene-Free Wetsuits)
Carries: Wetsuits for men & women
Price range: $199-$549
Patagonia has a collection of wetsuits that are made from a branded fabric called Yulex. Yulex is made from FSC certified natural rubber instead of traditional neoprene, which is sourced from oil and/or limestone.
These wetsuits are not only more sustainable, but they’re just as high-performing for water sports and they’re Fair Trade certified, too.
I’d still like some more transparency about the chemicals involved in the manufacturing process of both BioSculpt and Yulex (is it a rayon type of situation?), but I’m sure they’re both still better options than their petroleum-based plastic alternatives, both for you and for the planet.
Hemp Huggers (Most Customizable!)
Materials: Organic hemp, organic cotton, and latex-free lycra.
Carries: Bikinis, one-pieces, beach clothing
Made in: USA
Price range: $48-$182
Their website may look like it’s from 2002, but don’t let it fool you: this brand actually has some great options for organic swimwear that’s made from hemp and cotton. The lycra they use is latex-free, which means it’s hypoallergenic and a great option for even the most chemically-sensitive person.
They have a lot of different options (mostly for women) and the suits are suuuper customizable—you can choose the type of fabric, type of dye, cup size, and more.
Here are a few more lovely swimwear brands that make suits out of mostly natural fibers:
- TomboyX: This brand makes gender- and size-inclusive swimwear that’s available in lots of fun styles and prints. Although they do use synthetics, a lot of it is recycled and it’s all OEKO-TEX certified to be safe from harmful materials.
- Swimm: This Australia-based brand makes simple one- and two-pieces made from 96% Australian merino wool and 4% elastane.
- Akoia Swim: Also based in Australia, each of these crocheted bikinis and one pieces are handmade out of 100% cotton yarn. They have some really beautiful crocheted dresses, too.
- LUZ: This French brand has a collection of suits that are made with majority organic cotton, combined with a small percentage of elastane.
- She Made Me: This is another crocheted swimwear brand that makes really beautiful, artisan made suits out of natural cotton (combined with a nylon and elastane lining so you can actually wear it in the water).
Other Options for Sustainable Swimwear
Want even more options? Building on the above lists of swimwear brands for men and kids that use recycled plastic bottles and regenerated nylon, here are some more swimwear brands that may not be organic, but they are still a more eco-friendly and non-toxic choice than “conventional” swimwear:
- Tomboyx has an incredible collection of gender- and size-inclusive swimwear that’s made from mostly recycled materials and is also OEKO-TEX certified.
- Londre’s gorgeous collection of sustainable swimwear for women is made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles and is also OEKO-TEX certified.
- Baiia’s swimwear not only uses fabrics made from recycled synthetics, but their water-based dyes come with Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS), OEKO-TEX, and CLEAR TO WEAR certifications.
- Samudra’s reversible swimsuits are also made out of recycled materials and come with OEKO-TEX and GRS certifications.
- NOW_THEN also has a great collection of recycled ethical swimwear for women that is OEKO-TEX certified, including rash guards and active swimwear.
Pros & Cons of Natural vs. Synthetic Fabrics for Swimwear
As you can see, 100% natural, plastic-free, and organic swimwear is hard to come by. Even those are made from mostly natural materials still have a small percentage of synthetic material like spandex or nylon.
This is usually for performance, fit, and durability reasons. Most people want a bathing suit that fits tightly (even when wet) and that sticks close to their skin so they don’t have to worry about any *wardrobe malfunctions.*
Of course, what you really need in a bathing suit is going to vary depending on whether you’re just laying around the pool, surfing, walking around a resort all day, running to catch up with the kids on the beach, or whatever.
Even though I’m usually one to argue that natural and organic materials can be just as good as synthetics, swimwear is one area where sometimes you might just have to go with an option that contains at least some plastic for now. sigh.
Of course, that doesn’t mean swimwear that’s made from synthetic fabrics doesn’t have its shortcomings, too (even if it’s recycled). The most obvious problem is that synthetic swimwear (and other types of fabrics) shed microplastics as you wear and wash them. Microplastics are not healthy for our ecosystems, nor the animals and humans involved.
Then there is the issue of potential phthalates in synthetic fabrics, although it’s practically impossible to know if a certain bathing suit does or doesn’t contain phthalates, and if so, how much.
Lastly, you want to watch out for toxic additives that are often added to swimwear to make it UV-resistant and/or water-resistant. Durable Water Repellant (DWR) for example is sometimes added to swimwear to make it dry faster, but DWR contains toxic forever chemicals.
Catch Those Microplastics!
If you do decide to go with a suit that’s made from recycled synthetic materials, there are some things you can do to minimize the amount of microplastics that enter our waterways when you put your suit through the wash. (These are also good for any other types of synthetic clothing as well!)
- You can place your suit into a Guppyfriend bag before putting it in the laundry.
- For larger loads, you can just throw a Cora Ball in your washing machine and it will catch a certain amount of microplastics for you.
- Or you can grab one of these washing machine attachments.
So, there you have it. 100% plastic-free, natural, and organic swimwear is quite difficult to come by, but hopefully this guide has given you some BETTER options to choose from!
And don’t forget: stress can be toxic, too. So instead of worrying TOO much about how much about trying to make the perfect decision when it comes to sustainable and organic swimwear, just make the best decision you can with the options you have.
And then… HIT THE BEACH AND HAVE FUN!
Image credits: all product photos belong to respective brands.