In the swim with enviro-friendly swimwear

Photo: Loyale Clothing

The original bikini, created in 1946 by French engineer Louis R&#0233ard and fashion designer Jacques Heim, celebrated the first nuclear explosion. Today's bikinis are celebrating the earth. While the basic pattern has remained the same, today's green swimwear is made out of organic bamboo or cotton, or fashioned from recycled material.

When designer Anna Cohen returned home to Portland, Oregon, after working in Italy, she created a collection that treads lightly on earth. Her new green designs won her the 2006 prestigious Eileen Fisher Grant for Women Entrepreneurs, given to socially conscious women. Cohen's newest bikini has side neck and back ties. Made from organic cotton and bamboo as well as mill end polyester and Lycra left over from the making of Olympic speed skater uniforms.

Jenny Hwa, the designer of Loyale clothing, has also created a cute string-bikini with side-tie bikini bottoms and halter-tie top. Her Barstow bikini uses 100 percent organic cotton with a bamboo liner for the suit and comes in navy, coral and bone. Hwa's considered the up and coming designer known for her understated sophistication, alluring fit and organic textiles.

Environmental scientist Kelly Barry has put her BFA in textiles to good use with her eco-fashion line using bold and bright colours. Her itsy-bitsy coral and raspberry bikini is made from 90 percent organic cotton with 10 percent spandex. The triangle-cut top is perfect for small busts and the ruffle skirt on the full-cut brief adds an extra accent. The bikini is also available in white. Her one-piece glam suit has three adjustable ties at back and a removable strap for the neck. All of Kelly's lines have been produced with organic cotton and other natural fibres including bamboo.

These enviro-friendly bathing suits may be upstaged by the new solar-powered swimsuits being manufactured by Triumph. The company unveiled its one-piece suit at an April fashion show in Valencia, Spain, held for the World Cup Sailing regatta. The suit has solar panels in the front and will harness enough energy to charge your iPod, mobile phone or digital camera. The suit will be on sale in stores for the 2008 season. Now while you're working on your tan, you can also be creating energy.