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Green summer fun is within reach, just take the time to look around

If you do feel the need to buy new garments, consider classic designs and quality that will not go out of style in a few months

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 9:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 5:53pm

Summer, the season for the beach and junk trips – is upon us. The first instinct of some people is to go out and buy new swimwear. Fast fashion has encouraged us to embrace the buying of new clothes, even when what we have is still in mint condition.

If Cate Blanchett can recycle her beautiful Armani Privé black lace dress from 2014 on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet this year, you can still rock that great swimsuit that you wore last year.

If there is the need to buy new garments, consider something in classic design and of a high quality that you can mix and match and wear without worrying that it will go out of style in a few months. That belief has given birth to Hong Kong brand Grana, which offers “modern essentials” in fine fabrics sourced from unusual places such as the mountains of Peru to the expanse of Mongolia, at honest prices. To keep costs down, they receive orders from their website and sell directly to customers, although there is a “Fitting Room” on Hollywood Road and in pop-up locations where you can try things on before sending in orders.

The brand has collections of classic swimwear for men with a Taiwanese Tech fabric and Italian Sensitive fabric for women. Both promise to deliver light, breathable and comfortable swimwear. For everyday wear in Hong Kong’s hot summer months, there is the latest eco collection featuring certified sustainable clothes, such as Tencel made from wood pulp farmed eucalyptus trees on sustainably managed tree plantations. Other categories include Lenzing Modal made from sustainable and natural Beech Tree forests found in Europe, and Organic French Linen Jersey produced by experienced flax growers in northern France.

New swimwear brands have blossomed around the world offering swimwear made from recycled material, Wathaa is one of them, created by an Italian resident in Hong Kong. The products are made from polyester yarn made from recycled plastic, at a facility in southern China fully certified by the Business Social Compliance Initiative.

Another resident, German-born Friederike Steiner, has also started a new brand of swimwear called Demalou. Her journey was born out of frustration of not being to find what she wanted. “I had quite detailed ideas on how I wanted my future bikini to look like … a bikini that stays on and has the cut and colours to make me want to grab it every morning no matter if it’s still wet from the last session,” she recalls.

Another push came when she read about the 5.2 million plastic bottles thrown away every day. Further research led her to Econyl, and an Italian made fabric made of 100 per cent regenerated polyamide fibre from post-consumer materials and tested in thousands of hours of competitive swimming. “It is fantastic for swimwear, as it feels like a second skin and has a superior resistance to chlorine and to degradation from creams and sun oils,” she said.

The products are available from Kickstarter, but there will be an official online retailer soon. Steiner is seeking retail partners.

Synthetic fabrics used in swimwear – and in other types of active wear – still present an environmental problem: whenever they are washed, tiny microfibres are released down the drain, and make their way into the ocean. They enter the marine food chain, which is an unappetising thought. A solution, called the GuppyFriend, has been developed in Germany.

The patented invention is a self-cleaning fabric bag, made of a micro-filter material capable of blocking microfibres from getting through. The company behind it claims that the GuppyFriend washing bag does not lose any fibres itself, but after each wash, you can see microfibres caught in the inner surface and you can remove them easily.

The product has caught the attention of Patagonia and Jack Wolfskin, which are offering it in Asia. You can also order it directly but transport costs can be high. The maker is working on a faster, cheaper and more convenient solution.

Now, when the sun is strong, you need to put on a pair of shades. Many of them are made of plastic. What makes matters worse is that the cheap, disposable ones are becoming more popular. There is a simple reason for that. When you go on a junk trip, you don’t want to risk losing your most expensive sunglasses. Hongkonger James Chu came up with a solution: affordable ones made of paper. He founded Paper Shades, which makes smartly designed sunglasses from recycled paper and plastic waste. The manufacturing process is also good for the environment: glues used are non-toxic, water-based and free of volatile organic compounds, and materials from the offcuts are collected and returned to the paper mill for recycling.

With your attire decided, it’s time to think about how to minimise waste from the boat and your beach picnic. A number of boat charter companies have green policies in place to ensure that. Lazydays provides water dispensers, recycling bins and a can crusher on board, alongside reusable cloth food covers in lieu of cling wrap, reusable bamboo plates and stainless steel cutlery, stainless steel straws, polycarbonate glassware, Teflon cooking mats and reusable serving plates. The company is also introducing cotton bags for transporting veggies and eco-friendly detergent this year.

If you want gourmet food on board, consider Invisible Kitchen, which has experience catering for events of all sizes, including weddings, a VIP party during the Volvo Ocean Race, and junk trips. The caterer avoids plastic packaging, single use plastics and straws, and it provides customers with compostable cutlery upon request. “We also have a stock of very classy re-usable wine glasses which are unbreakable and safe on deck. They are much nicer than plastic beakers and eliminate the need for disposables,” says Tom Burney, executive chef and managing director.

“For beach parties, we sometimes use some really cute wicker picnic baskets, which the client can keep or we collect afterwards. They add a great atmosphere to your lounging, reduce waste and are naturally made.”

The dishes prepared use WWF sustainable fish and seafood, premium meats from Kettyle Irish Foods in the County Fermanagh countryside, hormone-free chicken and eggs, pork from a British family-run pig farm, and local and organic vegetables and fruits whenever possible. The company is also a partner of Green Monday, and offers the Beyond Meat plant-based burger to look, cook and taste like the real thing.