Why I Don’t Own a Sustainable Bikini

Nothing feels more freeing than swimming in the clear blue waters back home on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I just got back this week and am here for about a month, I can’t wait to reconnect with the rhythm of the ocean waves. The salt water smooths my skin and floating in the sunshine instantly cures any remaining New York City anxiety.

When packing for this trip I realized the only swimsuits I own are from a time before I fully committed to the conscious fashion life. One top was a bit worn out and the elastic was shot, but otherwise I had two sets of bikinis and a one piece for my trip. By my standards of only buying clothing when absolutely necessary, there was no need to buy another suit.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to keep myself accountable, but it also has the power to make me insecure for those moments that I’m less than perfect. I am a conscious fashionista, but it can be hard to stay on track when there is pressure to stay on trend, have a head to toe sustainable fashion look, and not break the bank. Especially in this day and age with social media amplifying every imperfection, you can’t hide.

Even though the goal of my blog is not to post my #ootd, or promote brands, I do love clothes and if sharing my style inspires people to get involved I’m more than happy to share. Before leaving on this trip, however, I got extremely nervous about the idea of posting pictures of myself in a non-sustainable swimsuit. I found myself seconds away from impulse buying an adorable made in Hawaii swimsuit, from a brand that happened to be having a flash sale. The credit card was out, shipping was selected, all I had to do was push one button and it’d be mine, but I paused. WHY I was purchasing the swimsuit? After some deeper thought, I decided it wasn’t necessary.

One of the biggest tools in conscious fashion is being mindful of your actions and what’s truly motivating you to buy a garment. Our society has trained us that impulse buying is natural and that if we want something we should have it. As soon as there’s a new trend, ditch the old piece and get the new one. We’re taught that all occasions should be celebrated with a new outfit. A friend’s wedding coming up? Buy a new dress. A beach vacation booked? But a new swimsuit. This mindless pattern of consumption results in a closet full of one hit wonders leaving you wanting more, instead of timeless treasures.

Usually before buying an item, I identify a hole in my closet, then I exhaustively research online for brands I trust, or I’ll hit the thrift shops (almost daily) until I find a piece that fills that hole. In the case of this swimsuit, was there a hole in my closet or was there another motivating factor? When it came down to it, I realized that I wanted to buy the suit for the Instagram post. To post myself in a bikini that was in line with my ethical shopping guidelines. That’s all well and good, but it was more for my ego and consumerism than anything else, motivators that don’t justify a shopping spree.

I have been upcycling, thrifting and buying sustainable for four years now, but I’ve had some lapses, and have always had a hard time with swimsuits. It’s not that there is a lack of sustainable swimwear, they’re just a bit pricey, and I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy a used swimsuit. I usually keep on budget by frequenting thrift stores and buying vintage, but without that option I ended up buying non-sustainable options in my budget with the intention to wear them as long as I could. This is not the perfect answer to the problem, but it’s what worked for me at the time, and I’m not about to throw away a perfectly good swimsuit just because it’s not ethically made. After all, waste is one of the biggest issues of the sustainable fashion world and I do my best not to contribute to this ever increasing problem.

If I was still living in Hawai’i or frequented the beach or pool throughout the year I would consider buying a new swimsuit from one of the many sustainable swimwear brands out there. The reality is, however, that I’ll be in New York City for the next two years studying with my nose in a book or writing research papers. When I wear out the one’s I have now, I’ll gladly buy a new sustainable suit, keeping in mind my conscious fashion principles. Until then, I’ll be checking myself to make sure I’m not purchasing just for the sake of having something new to wear or to share with you all. I’m happy to have this blog to keep me on track and accountable. 

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  1. How many yard of cloth in a bikini? Walk down the street grab some scraps out of a trash bin stop at the corner store and buy needle and thread. Give the first ones to you enemies after some practice you will be OK. If you know Abigail Doan I am her uncle.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Michael! Bikinis definitely don’t use that much fabric, but I’m not a great seamstress so I think I’ll leave that up to someone else 🙂

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