You’d likely be hard pressed to find a person in the US who isn’t at least vaguely familiar with the three R’s of sustainability: reducing, reusing, and recycling.
And what a celebrated term ‘sustainability’ itself has become. For good reason, of course. After all, sustainability is what we’re all about here. But we’re not about using the term ‘sustainability’ without evidence, or as a PR move made to greenwash a company’s marketing strategy.
So at Coralee Swimwear, we’re also about sustainability education.
As in, we don’t just want to label our swimwear as having been sustainably made and call it good to go.
What makes our sustainably made swimwear different
We want to, first, precisely trace our recycled textile sources back to the very ecosystem we believe is most under siege from consumer waste: our oceans’ coral reefs. And then we want to bring our customers along for the educational journey toward a lifestyle that is both fashionable and sustainable.
So toward that end, below is all about what Coralee swimwear is made of and how the harvesting and regeneration of such materials not only fights the marine plastic problem, but also actively contributes to a solution.
Where our sustainably made swimwear comes from
Coralee Swimwear partners with two textile regeneration companies, both of which source plastic and fibrous waste from recycling plants and from the ocean itself.
Essentially, they melt down the waste material and purify it into pellets of the same compositional integrity as the original material (AKA, their recycled versions of nylon or plastic are just as good and strong as brand new nylon or plastic). They string those pellets into fibers, and then thread those fibers into fabrics that are ready to be purchased by manufacturers.
Pretty cool, right?
The first of our two partnering textile regeneration companies, ECONYL, is based in Italy.
After first rescuing discarded textiles such as old fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring, and industrial plastics that would have otherwise been left to pollute Italian coral reefs, ECONYL sorts and cleans the collected materials in order to salvage all the nylon possible.
Then, through an advanced regeneration and purification process, they recycle the salvaged nylon back to its original state of purity. So, as previously mentioned, it functions and performs exactly the same as brand new nylon. Recycling doesn’t at all mean sacrificing quality!
Then, just as if they’re working with brand new materials, ECONYL processes the pure recycled nylon into carpet yarns and textile fabrics for the fashion and interiors industries.
And the magic doesn’t even stop there!
The products, like Coralee swimwear for example, that are made from ECONYL yarns and fabrics can be infinitely recycled for nylon at the end of their usefulness and remade into new products! So nothing gets wasted, and discarded pieces never again burden our oceans’ coral reefs.
Environmental impact of sustainably made swimwear
We call this phenomenon a ‘closed loop regeneration process’ or ‘circular economy’.
Both terms refer to a repeatable system where the focus is on eliminating waste by reusing, recycling, and refurbishing old equipment, products, machinery, and infrastructure in order to infinitely elongate the lives of the raw materials. Doing this, one, keeps us from having to harvest new materials and, two, keeps the used materials from filling up our landfills and oceans.
And here’s where it gets really good.
It’s obvious why keeping discarded material waste out of our oceans’ coral reefs is a good thing, right? But did you also know just how positively impactful it is for our planet when we reuse those materials rather than harvesting new ones? It’s amazing.
Listen to this:
For every 10,000 tons of raw materials salvaged by ECONYL, they save 70,000 barrels of crude oil and avoid 65,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions--what they would have had to use to harvest new materials. That fact alone reduces the global warming impact of nylon production by up to 90%.
And it’s exciting lots of different household name brands, not just us at Coralee Swimwear.
For example, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class uses recycled ECONYL threads in its floor coverings. And by recycling those floor coverings after these new cars have aged beyond their usefulness, Mercedes-Benz will be able to keep those very threads infinitely in circulation for use in their cars. Closed loop regeneration at work!
So that’s one of our awesome partnering textile regeneration companies.
Impact of sustainably made swimwear on oceans’ coral reefs
The other is REPREVE, and they’re essentially doing the same stuff, but with plastic bottles taken directly from the ocean. So cool, and such an immediate positive impact on our oceans’ coral reefs.
REPREVE recycles those plastic bottles into fibers used by brands such as Patagonia, Teva, Fig, and many more--the kind of stretchy, durable fibers that are perfect for comfortable and long-lasting swimsuits.
And just like what’s happening at ECONYL, compared to producing a ‘virgin’ fiber, recycling bottles into REPREVE fibers offsets the use of petroleum in production, emitting fewer greenhouse gases and conserving water and energy in the process.
Another really cool thing about REPREVE is that they actually share with their purchasing partner manufacturers how many plastic bottles contributed to the recycled fabric they have purchased.
So, in our case, every piece of Coralee swimwear accounts for an exact number of plastic bottles removed from our oceans. And we can share that number with our customers!
Wouldn’t it feel amazing to know the exact positive environmental impact you’ve made just by purchasing a swimsuit?
Partnerships to create sustainably made swimwear
Now, last but certainly not least--though this third recycled material source may not be an official textile regeneration company, I might be the most proud of this particular partnership. Because it represents a fair amount of creative ingenuity and it’s with my brother.
Don’t you love it when family comes together for our oceans’ coral reefs?
Anyway, as you know, women’s swimwear requires little plastic pieces like strap adjusters and clasps. I was unable to find a company sustainably making exactly what I needed, so my amazing brother stepped in with his 3D printing skills.
To make these plastic pieces, he melts down discarded plastic spools and prints the strap adjusters and clasps according to my exact specifications.
So Coralee Swimwear gets custom recycled swimwear hardware, and I get to collaborate with my brother. I’m all about it!
I’m super grateful for his help and especially excited to have enjoyed the birth of Coralee Swimwear as a family affair.
Connect with us and shop our sustainably made swimwear
Stuff like that is what I believe makes Coralee Swimwear really special.
And there’s so much more!
We’re sharing all about it via social media, and would love to connect with you there. Let us show you more about our unique processes, positive environmental impact, and close-up customer shopping experience.
Find it all on Instagram at @coraleeswim.
I can’t wait to see you there!