The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable and Ethical Surfwear
Nowadays, sustainable and ethical fashion has been widely embraced by consumers who are looking for better quality products with lower environmental and social impacts. But when it comes to surfwear specifically, finding clothing made from sustainable materials that also follows ethical production guidelines can be a little tricky.
This article will teach you how to choose sustainable and ethically-made surfwear that not only stands up against the waves, but also makes a positive impact on our planet.
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Why Is Buying Sustainable and Ethical Surf Clothing Important?
For many surfers, surfing goes beyond a simple hobby or sport. Because we spend so much time in the ocean, we know first-hand just how important it is to protect marine ecosystems, wildlife, and communities in coastal areas. Today, the world of surfing is often tied to activism, with many surfers acting as outspoken leaders in the environmental movement. In fact, the surfing community, including the Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Save the Waves Coalition, has been tremendously successful in spearheading many of the world’s largest environmental crusades.
Unfortunately, the surfwear industry has some catching up to do when it comes to environmental protection. Everything from the materials used to manufacture items such as wetsuits, t-shirts, and board shorts to surfing equipment and accessories can create a large footprint on our planet if not sourced responsibly. For example, wetsuits made from neoprene and polyester are a major component of many surfers’ gear collection, but these are rarely made with eco-friendly materials. To make matters worse, some conventional surf- and swimwear brands rely on forced labor or other unethical labor practices.
With increasing awareness of sustainable and ethical alternatives in sustainable surf clothing, consumers now have the opportunity to make responsible choices when it comes to their surfwear. By buying sustainable items that aim for environmental responsibility, surfing enthusiasts can opt for a more sustainable way of spending their money in order to ride the waves with a clear conscience.
How to Pick Sustainable and Ethical Surf Clothing Brands
There are several factors to consider when choosing the most environmentally friendly and ethically-made surf clothing brands. Here’s everything you need to know.
Check the materials
Many surf clothing brands today use unsustainable fabrics such as virgin polyester, acrylic, and nylon. These synthetic fabrics are non-biodegradable and are made from crude oil, which emits a significant amount of carbon throughout its production process. Instead of these materials, you can prioritize looking for surfwear made of natural fabrics such as organic cotton, organic hemp, and organic linen made from plant fibers.
If you need more warmth, you can choose surfwear made from more heavy-duty sustainable synthetic fabrics like recycled polyester and nylon made from post-consumer products such as PET (plastic) bottles. Despite their non-biodegradability, these materials help eliminate plastic waste and are durable long-lasting fabrics that can handle the wear and tear of the ocean.
Furthermore, there are several sustainable textile certifications that you should look for when choosing a surfwear brand. Some of the sustainable textile standards to consider are the Bluesign standard, OEKO-TEX certification, and GOTS certification. These standard certifications guarantee that the fabric used in the brand has a low environmental impact while also promoting social good.
Finally, keep in mind that a long-lasting product is more sustainable, as it means you’ll have to buy fewer products in the long run. Buying from companies whose clothing undergoes comprehensive fabric testing from a reputable third-party company is a great way to ensure your surfwear is in it for the long haul.
Check how it’s made
Unfortunately, some surf clothing brands are not sourced or produced ethically, even if their clothes are made from more sustainable materials. For example, some surf brands may rely on factories that engage in child labor or unsafe working conditions. You can avoid unethical surfwear by checking the brand’s website – it should explain how they ensure ethical manufacturing of their products and the condition of their facilities.
There are also several certifications that help companies demonstrate transparency into their supply chain. Certifications such as B-Corp and Fair Trade provide “proof” that the company is providing ethical working conditions to its employees and is ensuring sustainable sourcing throughout its supply chain.
Check the company’s involvement in environmental programs
The best companies are ones that sell environmentally friendly products while also participating in environmental projects. Many eco-friendly surf brands today are actively engaging with organizations that help the environment directly. For example, Surfers Against Sewage and The Ocean Project are some of the great organizations that several surfing brands support. Companies that support environmental initiatives will often discuss this on their website – if you don’t see a page about it, they’re probably not doing it…
Best Sustainable and Ethical Surf Clothing Brands on the Market
To help you in your journey to sustainable surfing, here are some of the best surfwear brands on the market today that meet high standards of sustainability and ethics.
Outerknown was founded by pro surf champion Kelly Slater. It is an ethical, slow-fashion surfwear brand that provides a variety of fashionable surf trunks, surf suits, swimsuits, and beach towels that are made of recycled polyester. Outerknown collaborates with the Fair Labor Association to promote social ethics in their company, and all of their products are Bluesign certified. This brand allows you to get stoked – guilt-free!
allSisters is a women’s surfwear brand based in Barcelona, Spain. This brand creates high-quality, trendy surfwear from recycled fabrics such as ECONYL, a type of nylon regenerated from plastic wastes and fishing nets. The brand also supports Surfers Against Sewage in its mission to tackle plastic waste in the ocean. Plus, allSisters’ stylish designs will make you look extra cool when riding the waves.
Patagonia is one of the leading outdoorswear brands that provide sustainable and ethical outdoor clothing. Their surfwear collections, which are trusted by many pro surfers, are made of Bluesign-certified fabrics that are sustainably produced and manufactured. Furthermore, the company is a B-Corp, so you can be sure that they ensure fair labor and transparency in their operations.
SEPTEMBER is an ethical and sustainable surf and swimwear brand. Their clothing line is designed in New York and manufactured by an all-women slow fashion team in Bali, Indonesia. Their surf and swimwear are made of 78% ECONYL regenerated nylon and 22% elastane recycled from ghost fishing nets found in the ocean. Additionally, the brand’s packaging is made of a reusable organic cotton drawstring bag that comes inside a 100% compostable plant-based bag. SEPTEMBER surfwear will allow you to paddle out into a whole new level of sustainability and eco-consciousness.