Natasha Tonic sustainable swimwear launched in 2017 from a motivation to create positive change in an industry that relies heavily on polyester – one of the most polluting materials that is non-biodegradable, releases micro-fibres when swimming & washing, and can also be irritable on the skin.
We asked Natasha why hemp is at the heart of her range (Hint: It’s super comfortable and double duties as lingerie, bodysuits & activewear!) and how she keeps her swimwear low impact on skin and the environment.
Why did you decide to opt out of using polyester in your swimwear?
I was never a fan of polyester and always thought there must be a better choice. First of all, it doesn’t breathe so we get hot and sweaty more easily when wearing polyester.
The production of polyester uses harmful chemicals including carcinogens, which can cause environmental and health damage. Polyester is made very similarly to plastic bottles, and it’s like wearing a plastic bottle over your body. As the skin is our largest organ, when I was breastfeeding my child I was aware that I didn’t want any of these chemicals getting into my system from wearing polyester. Living in Los Angeles and spending plenty of time at the pool, I felt very uncomfortable knowing this in the back of my mind. This is why I wanted to create something different. Something healthier.
Tell us more about the non-reactive dyes you use in Natasha Tonic swimwear.
We use low-impact dyes. Natural components are water-soluble and there is no heavy metal content, making Natasha Tonic swimwear not only better for the skin, but the environment too.
For hand-dyed swimsuits, we use fibre-reactive dyes that are low-impact synthetic dyes, which directly bond with the garment fibres rather than remaining as an independent chemical entity within the fibre.
Low-impact dyes and fibre-reactive dyes use less water and energy than the conventional dyeing process generally used to dye polyester. They don’t contain heavy metals or other known toxic substances, and do not need mordants. Plus, the colour is long-lasting and vibrant!
What makes hemp great as a sustainable swimwear fabric?
I chose hemp fibre because of its amazing natural ability to remain strong and durable both inside and outside the water. For centuries, hemp ropes were used to tie up boats and I figured if it’s strong enough to do that, then it can probably handle anything a woman might put it through. I tested it out in chlorine pools and salty seas, as well as hot tubs. It passed them all after more than a year of testing.
Hemp fabric dries as fast as polyester when exposed to the sun, and is antimicrobial which means you sweat less and it leaves no bad odour no matter how long you wear it. Also, our hemp is mixed with organic cotton that is EcoCert certified, which means there are no pesticides involved. This is just way better for our skin. Hemp is also naturally UV resistant. Mixed with organic cotton it is very soft and doesn’t stretch when wet. It feels like you are wearing your lingerie, but doesn’t look like that when wet. It has a special feel to it that’s more natural and connected to nature.
Tell us more about your charity association with “5 Gyres”.
The more I researched polyester fabric and the consequences it has on our environment and ourselves, I started looking for scientific proof. “5 Gyres” is one of the leaders in this kind of research when it comes to plastic and micro-fibre pollution. By donating 5% for every swimsuit sold to “5 Gyres”, I’m not only promoting their mission of fighting plastic and micro-fibre pollution, but also giving my customers proof that hemp swimwear is a better choice than polyester.
What are your top tips for holidays and ocean swimming to protect our seas?
Pack lightly. With Natasha Tonic sustainable swimwear, you can use it in so many ways — as lingerie or a bodysuit or activewear – which means you can wear it on more than one occasion while feeling comfortable. You can swim and feel like you are not polluting the ocean with synthetic micro-fibres. If you choose to wear sunscreen, choose one without synthetic sunscreens for marine life and yourself. Remember, your skin is your largest organ!