These days we try to avoid the word “sustainable” because that would be greenwashing. There are two big elephants in the room for eco-aware swimwear companies: the first is that our products are ultimately derived from non-biodegradable fossil fuels and the second is microplastics. Set out below are our efforts to minimise harm from these issues, but until we solve these problems no swimwear company can truly claim to be “sustainable”.
What's the big deal?
The best fabrics for quality swimwear are all synthetic. Ultimately that means derived from fossil fuels. Of total fossil fuel extraction, over 1% is solely for synthetic textiles. Turning that oil into fabric is itself energy-intensive and, because fossil fuels are mostly used to create that energy, accounts for roughly 10% of all global carbon emissions. Once synthetic garments are finished with, 85% of them end up in landfill or incineration: they do not biodegrade.
Polyamide and elastane are not biodegradable. Will you help us keep old swimsuits out of landfill? We’re hoping in the near future and with a little help from some friends to be able to recycle these swimsuits into yet more swimsuit fabric.
Our signature swimsuit fabric is made from 78% ECONYL® regenerated polyamide yarn from ghost fishing nets and other nylon waste. ECONYL® produces up to 90% less CO2 emissions during raw material production thanks, to green energy, water savings and extensive energy recovery. This means that for every 1,000 tons of ECONYL® yarn, 7,000 barrels of crude oil are saved and 6,510 tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided. All this without any compromise on quality, and that is because ECONYL® polyamide is regenerated at the molecular level, so this polyamide is just as strong, clean and durable as polyamide from virgin oil. In case you were wondering about the other 22%, well sadly that is (non-recycled) elastane. A recycled version of elastane does exist, but its quality is dubious and so we continue to use elastane from virgin oil until a better alternative exists. Not all of our products are made from our signature swimsuit fabric. Our cotton bucket hats and caps are made from thick cotton which is biodegradable. Our board shorts made from SEAQUAL® 100% recycled polyester including around 10% recycled ocean plastics and the remainder land-based post-consumer plastics such as drinks bottles.
Recycling our swimsuits
Mitigating fossil fuel extraction and energy usage for swimwear creation (see above) is only half the story. For too long, end of product-life solutions has been left to, and blamed on, the consumers when it is the manufacturers who create the problem. We don’t want to be a polluting brand. Polyamide, elastane and polyester are not biodegradable. Will you help us keep old swimwear out of landfill? Our products have been designed with “circularity” (meaning, ease of re-recycling) in mind. Our recycled polyester board shorts even have stitched eyelets in the pockets so that they can go directly into recycling. And our swimsuits are similarly designed for re-recycling, except for the zips, which we’re happy to separate for you. So, here’s our big ask. Please, please, please send us back your used Noma Swimwear items once you have finished with them. We can send the board shorts for recycling; and we are working with our commercial partners to ensure that our swimsuits also get re-recycled and stay out of landfill. As a thank you, we will email you a code for £5 off your next purchase. See the Delivery, Returns and Recycling page for details.
When synthetic garments are washed, tiny fragments snap and flow out of our washing machines in the dirty water. These fragments are so small they are almost invisible and yet, because synthetic fibres are now so prevalent, together they form a large part of our ocean plastics problem. Once in our oceans, we can’t remove them. They are eaten by marine life and make their way into our food chain. Whilst scientists search for a longer-term solution to the micro plastics problem, we recommend (and sell on this website) the current best available option for capturing micro plastics: the GuppyFriend washing bag. We also recommend not washing your swimwear often. It really doesn’t need washing after every swimming lesson: just hang to dry.
Our commitment to improvement
Each year we refresh our impact assessments for our products under the Dayrize.io scoring system. It will not be a surprise to hear that our products consistently score above the industry averages, nor (given what we’ve set out above) that our products are not perfectly “sustainable”. Our commitment is to keep moving forward and challenging the status quo.
Giving back via Healthy Seas®
We are proud to support the working of Healthy Seas®, a not for profit organisation that arranges the dives and retrieval of ghost nets from the oceans, mainly by brave volunteer divers. Those ghost nets are the raw material for our signature swimsuit fabric. Each year we donate 1% of our revenues to Healthy Seas.
We hope you like our packaging when our swimsuits arrive at your door. Our packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. No (single use plastic) hygiene tags. No polythene wrapper. No unnecessary packaging. Less is more.