In Praise of Patagonia – Plant Based Wetsuits

Old news is still good news – and some news is great news if it impacts our environment in a positive way. Eco-driven Patagonia, who has previously made risky choices in favor of its ecological and social ethics’s, continues to push the envelope with plant powered Yulex wetsuits. Although the line was introduced in 2014, no time like the present to support the exposure for their efforts to reduce ( whenever possible ) the dependence on conventional neoprene, a synthetic, petroleum-derived material with a highly toxic manufacturing process.

Patagonia, who already has a distinguished record of environmental philanthropy and investment, started making wetsuits in 2006 always with the goal of producing the best products in the least damaging way to our environment. Patagonia’s search for alternatives led to a partnership with Yulex, a company making plant-based biorubbers derived from the guayule plant. Patagonia is now makings its Yulex wetsuit in a 60/40 blend (60% guayule, 40% neoprene), The new plant-based material is sourced from a hevea plantation that is independently certified to the FSC standard by the Rainforest Alliance, ensuring that products are produced using environmentally responsible practices, a huge win for the environment and for surfers.

Even more importantly, as Patagonia pushes towards making a suit from 100% guayule, eliminating the need for neoprene completely, the company has made this proprietary, game-changing biorubber available to the rest of the surf industry, when volume goes up on this groundbreaking material, price goes down, and more surfers can choose to purchase less harmful suits.

Further substantiating it’s exemplary business model and commitment to a cleaner planet, Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s vice-president of environmental affairs, had this to say about Patagonia’s amazing efforts “Companies, including ours, are reducing the environmental footprint of our individual products but increasing the footprint of our company as a whole as we grow,” he continues “It’s our hunch that all these sustainability innovations put together are not going to be enough to offset the continued increase in our human footprint that comes from this tie to growth.” – Cece Woods

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