Is neoprene free rubber more functional than alcohol-free beer?
As conflicted as gluten & dairy-free pizza?
After watching the former UK pro turned Patagonia Europe surf guy Gabe Davies shred the bejeepers out of his favourite and England’s finest surf break recently, we caught up to ask him if wetsuits really do grow on trees…
What’s wrong with neoprene anyway?
So pretty much every wetsuit ever made is largely created from petrochemicals, or in the case of ‘geoprene’, the source material is limestone based. Neither of these are sustainable or good for the environment in any way. Also bear in mind the chance of recycling old suits is pretty much zero, and they don’t biodegrade. Patagonia dived into detail on this topic, when we first started making suits lined with merino to limit the neoprene component as much as possible.
Tell us about wetsuits made from (sustainably managed) trees… sounds pretty cool…
So the bio rubber company Yulex saw our company blog 8 years ago and realised they had an answer. By using natural rubber, sourced from plants, we could replace the largest proportion of a suit with a renewable and sustainable rubber sourced from the Hevea Rubber tree. This comes from an FSC® certified by The Rainforest Alliance forest in Guatemala. Each tree has a lifespan of 40 years and can produce rubber for approx 35 years. It reduces ~80% carbon from the production of our suits and we can now have a suit that is neoprene free. We mix the 85% natural rubber with a 15% synthetic rubber which helps give us the flex, density, longevity and UV protection needed for our suits to perform.