You know by now that surfing leaves a crappy environmental footprint. Wetsuits are one of the major pieces of the problem, making us reliant on an energy intensive, non-renewable petroleum based product – neoprene. And since a majority of us don’t use a single wetsuit for more than one or two years, the more you surf the more impact you’re leaving on the environment. I remember taking one of my really old spring suits back in high school and cutting it at the waist so I could have a DIY jacket. It wasn’t my greatest creation, but I tried. And for years, I pretty much became a wetsuit hoarder, finding a reason to use a three or four year old suit from time to time because putting on an old dry suit seemed better than putting on a new wet one some winter days. But after taking inventory of all those suits I’ve owned over the years, it’s pretty scary to think of how much neoprene I collected that made its way to a landfill. Even Patagonia has decided to drop neoprene altogether from their wetsuit line, instead turning to an alternative plant based rubber from here on out and sharing the technology with other wetsuit manufacturers. But as awesome as great as that concept is, it won’t solve the problem of doing something with all those old used wetsuits we can’t dispose of.
Leave it to a browse through Kickstarter to come across some ingenuity. Suga is a brand new crowd funding campaign that’s been launched to recycle wetsuits and make them into brand new yoga mats. Coincidentally, it turns out the neoprene used to keep us warm in the water actually serves as a perfect material for yoga mats. Its closed-cell foam doesn’t soak up bacteria, sweat, dust, dirt or anything else you could find rolling around on the floor of a yoga studio. So there it is, a non-biodegradable product of our selfish pursuit of waves can have a second life. I’m still carrying around a bit of a guilty conscience, but at least it’s a start, right?