Seriously Sustainable

Seriously Sustainable. It’s a common mantra, yet in this industry climate, it persists to be a Seriously difficult premise to live by. Nylon and polyester are pervasive and ubiquitous in clothing [especially in swimwear], and so is the impact of these materials on the environment. The integral elements for ENWI are to shift towards biodegradable resources, re-purpose materials, and re/up-cycle.

 Where do nylon and polyester come from?

Nylon and polyester are fibers that result from non-renewable petroleum resources [think oil spills, fracking, CO2 emissions]. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the production of these fibers is energy-intensive and it releases acid gasses that exacerbate lung conditions[1] and that further harm the already depleted ozone layer.[2]

Since they are synthetic fibers, they are not sufficiently biodegradable and cause difficulty when the garment reaches the end of its cycle [if it ends up in a landfill, it stays in a landfill]. Additionally, nylon and polyester cause micro-plastic pollution in nature when the end-garment is washed. Synthetic fibers account for about 60% of textile fibers used in the world, just think of the potential a push towards bio-degradable fibers could have!

 What are your options?

THE REALITY IS: there are many trade-offs when it comes to going green.

Very few fabrics are organically biodegradable owing to the fact that they contain some amount of chemicals to increase their lifespan and resilience. This would be fine except, it doesn't align with our fast-fashion life-cycle where nothing lasts longer than a season or even less. Biodegradability of fabrics is largely determined by the number of chemicals used in the textile-life-cycle. Typically, the longer it takes to biodegrade, the more chemicals applied and the more damage to the environment is causable. We need more research to develop resilient fabrics that are organic and can biodegrade without causing any harm. At Enwi.d'mer, the idea of choosing Bio-based came from the initial notion of promoting progress and development in the textile industry via the demand for Bio alternatives. 

Even if you use recycled Nylon, the manufacturing process requires more energy than the production of bio-based textiles. The trade-offs overall vary from water usage to transportation, CO2 emissions and more, but in any case ALWAYS choose bio or recycled textiles over virgin, mass-produced synthetic products. 

We are so used to having everything catered to us 'right now' and in abundance but these behaviors need to be held in check when making consumption choices. ENWI makes a commitment to press science and the textile industry to invest more research and development into biodegradable textiles. We also produce two seasons per year only. 

What should we do then?

Make the choice to go bio-based or recycled. Bio-based fabrics are partially made from renewable sugars, starches, and fats, in our case the castor seed plant. The most important aspect of a bio-based product is its feedstock, the primary element the fibers are derived from [corn and cane sugar are common ones][3]. However, this can run in the problem of taking up fertile land. We chose a castor plant-based textiles because castor does not disrupt the animal or human food chain and grows in dry unfertile conditions and uses way less water to grow than other bio-bases.

The process is not perfect yet, but it is still a huge improvement. Bio-based fabrics are less likely to contribute to greenhouse gasses and the global reliance on feedstock ensures that some of the CO2 released during processing is taken out of the atmosphere, and they pressure the industry to invest in sustainability research[4]. Unlike food stock, plants reissue O2 into the atmosphere.

At Enwi.d'mer, we take sustainability seriously, both from an environmental perspective and from a social one.

Our planet

For our swimsuits, we chose the 100% bio-based yarn, made from castor oil. The castor plant grows sustainably in dry climates making EVO one of the best solutions available for bio-based fabrics[5]. Not to mention that design-wise our textile is SUPER SOFT.

Sadly, science hasn’t given us all the solutions yet, so while we push for more sophisticated bio alternatives to nylon via demand, we strive to use dead-stock elastic [left-over elastic] in order to offset the lack of recycled or bio alternative for this material[6]. But the pressure is on our consumer demand and scientific research since governments are not seriously on board yet.

Our swimsuits are sustainable in the long-term, and not just because they are made from eco-friendly fabrics. Our body positive designs, and durable, less saturated coloring combat the principles of fast-fashion, allowing you to be comfortable year after year without needing to be on a constant hunt for new products. Embrace quality and embrace your bodies.

And the upkeep? That’s sustainable too: the only care your swimsuit will need is light handwashing and drip-drying, saving both water and energy.

Our suits are made to last and to give you a sound investment. Going green is not cheap, so when you purchase we assure you that your commitment matches our quality and pricing standards. We do not go on sale for this reason. 

Our people

We take care of our people, ensuring that sustainability permeates all aspects of production. Our products are entirely made in Italy [not simply “finished” in Italy after being mainly produced in countries with fewer labor rights]. Our team does excellent work because they receive fair compensation, protection, and they love what they do.

You

Our swimsuits aren’t just good for your conscience, they also dry quickly so you can jump in and out of the water at your heart’s content with maximized comfort.

And if it’s real hot? The swimsuits have excellent breathability and odor control [due to the fibers’ bacteriostatic capacity] so you have nothing to worry about. And for those days when it’s not quite so hot? We’ve still got you covered: our swimsuits have a natural thermal capacity and they are fully lined in bio-based textiles as well. They also look great as a bodysuit for one of those spontaneous summer nights out.

When you wear our swimsuits, we don’t want there to be anything weighing you down. Literally. Our swimsuits are also ultralight [25% lighter than products made entirely from polyester]!

And our packaging? That’s sustainable too

You will receive your beautiful swimsuits in hand-made pouches from fabrics that Nathalie has collected over her previous jobs and her travels. A recovering hoarder. 

Wait, what about the Amazon?

The Amazon rain forest remains at the center of our work due to the founder’s personal experience in the Peruvian jungle. That’s why we donate 15% of our profits to the Chaikuni Institute. Chaikuni is an NGO working night and day to preserve the Amazon rain forest, its plant medicines, and the Indigenous Peruvian cultures whose home is the Amazon. The lungs of our planet. Indigenous people are typically the ones that need to fight the hardest for their rights. We give them some of the financial faculties to do so in their local contexts.

Additionally, we are working on a project to plant a new tree in the Amazon for every shipment we make to you and help you offset your carbon footprint.

*We are not done, nor do we ever intend to be done. Sustainability is an on-going process, it is continually being refined, adapted, and improved, and so are we.

 

[1] https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.115-a449 

[2]https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leslie_Burns/publication/247782661_Environmental_Analysis_of_Textile_Products/links/56606e5e08ae4931cd5978e2.pdf

[3] https://aboutbiosynthetics.org/feedstock-to-fashion/

[4] https://aboutbiosynthetics.org

[5] https://aboutbiosynthetics.org/feedstock-to-fashion/

[6] https://www.reverseresources.net/

 

 

Article: Benedetta Pusateri and Nathalie.