As if insta knew I was in need of a new bikini (the algorithm looking out for me and all), an ad for ‘Away That Day’ swimwear popped up. Since they were advertised as a sustainable swimwear company, I was immediately interested and knew I had to find out whether it’s just greenwashing or if the company is truly as great as they claim. Spoiler alert: they still have a lot to work on… Although the company uses econyl as their main material, it was the lack of transparency that made me give them 1.8/3 planets. If you don’t know what econyl is, it’s a material made out of different types of waste and a much more eco-friendly option than virgin nylon. However, it frustrated me that there was no information on how the bikinis were manufactured and even the transparency of their econyl supplier was at times sloppy. Also, there is little to no information on the company’s social justice agenda or how they aim to improve their sustainability. All in all, the company lacks way too much transparency for them to receive a higher score, but they definitely have the potential to become more sustainable.
This bikini top is made out of a material called ‘econyl fiber,’ which the company claims to be a revolutionary and eco-friendly alternative to other materials typically used for swimwear. The main reason being that it’s manufactured out of regenerated waste including ocean plastics, nylon scraps and ghost fishing nets. The yarn is used to make the ‘soft and durable’ fabric of the swimwear, and personally I think it’s 100% a better option than more common materials such as nylon, spandex, etc.. This process not only reuses existing materials, but also supports cleaning the environment at the same time- a great initiative if you ask me! Away That Day obtains econyl through a company called Aquafil, which is responsible for sourcing, transporting and manufacturing the waste into econyl. According to the Aquafil for every 10,000 tonnes of raw econyl material, they are able to save 70,000 barrels of crude oil and prevent 65,100 tonnes of CO2 being emitted. They also state that it reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90%, as econyl isn’t newly produced but comes from pre-existing material. Overall, I think it definitely speaks for Away That Day to use econyl, as it supports the notion of conserving our natural resources (especially crude oil) and recognises the negative impacts of newly-produced nylon on the environment. That being said Away That Say still has a lot to work on...
Away That Day makes the details of the material available through a link that leads to Aquafil’s website. In total, there are four sources of waste used for producing econyl: old carpets meant for landfills, ghost nets, pre-consumer waste and special take back projects. Since the manufacturing and sourcing process for each of these categories is different, there are four separate tabs available. At first glance, Aquafil seems very transparent about their sourcing, but I noticed that they were only open about the carpets and fishing nets. The carpets are sourced from recycling facilities in Phoenix and Woodland, whereas the ocean waste is collected and brought to Aquafil’s regeneration plant in Slovenia. I was disappointed to find no information about where the pre-consumer waste is from and little transparency about their special take back projects. While there is detailed information about the other categories, it doesn’t excuse their sloppiness and makes me a bit wary about Away That Day’s commitment to sustainability. After all, they made the decision to work with Aquafil.
This section is probably what frustrated me the most because Away That Day had such a great potential to score highly. There’s hardly any information on the company’s website about their manufacturing process and how the garments are actually made. All I could find is that, as of 2021, all garments are made in the UK to 'manufacture closer to home' and 'lower their CO2 emissions'. Firstly, I don’t really think that this change in factories will make an enormous difference in their overall emissions because they still have to transport the econyl to their factories. Also, let’s not forget that the supplier, Aquafil, sources the waste for econyl from all over the world, which isn’t really sustainable in terms of GHG emissions and remains part of Away That Day’s supply chain. If Away That Day would start sourcing AND manufacturing in the UK, I would be more impressed. Secondly, I think it’s much more important for the company to share how their garments are produced and what energy sources they use for this process. Providing no information other than ‘every piece is lovingly and ethically made by our small manufacturer in the heart of London’ isn’t acceptable. Instead of deflecting, I would love to see the company elaborate on their manufacturing process and provide some clean energy goals.
Speaking of goals, the company provides four goals that they are working towards. Unfortunately the links that were attached to two of them don’t work, which seems a little sketchy and misleading (this might also just be an issue with the website so I tried not reading too much into it). However, I was pleasantly surprised to read that the company uses compostable and biodegradable mailing bags as well as 100% organic cotton duster bags. This is a step in the right direction and would have been even better if there was any information about the sourcing of these materials. Overall, there seems to be a strong lack of communication about sourcing locations and manufacturing processes.
The company that produces this bikini is called ‘Away That Day’ and was founded in 2018, making it a pretty new company. While they still have a lot to learn in regards to transparency, I believe they’re on the right track considering the company’s products are based on an eco-friendly material. They also launched a recycling initiative in partnership with their London manufacturer where consumers can send their old swimwear, which will then be forwarded to their ‘trusted recycling partner.’ Again, it would have been great to mention who this partner is because keeping them in the dark does not seem very trusting to me. However, I like that broken swimwear can be sent to the company, fixed and then returned to the customer because it allows their products to have a longer life-cycle than just a few years. This means that instead of buying a completely new bikini and feeding into over-consumption, customers of Away That Day can make their purchases a nearly permanent part of their closet.
In terms of social justice, I could only find that their workers are paid above the minimum wage and that the company has an ‘amazing team’ who shares their ethos, values and sustainability enthusiasm. I feel like at this point I don’t need to repeat myself about the lack of detail and transparency because it’s probably becoming pretty obvious that it’s one of the company’s biggest weaknesses. If they want to be considered sustainable, way more information needs to be made openly available and explained in further detail than just one sentence.