Patagonia has partnered with eco-friendly biomaterial firm Yulex to create the first-ever plant-based wetsuit. The suits, which have a eucalyptus smell instead of the traditional smell from neoprene suits, are made with a renewable biorubber derived from the Guayule plant.
“When we started to build wetsuits we knew that neoprene, by nature of its production, was the most environmentally harmful part the product. Our initial approach was to use innovative materials, like wool, that are highly insulating and allowed us to use as little neoprene as possible. But we quickly realized that we needed to create a new material that could be a true alternative to neoprene,” notes Jason McCaffrey, Patagonia’s surf director. “After four years of working together, Patagonia and Yulex have co-developed a unique material that allows us to make a wetsuit that is 60% guayule (plant) based. Our goal is to have the formula be 100% plant based, but we feel that for now this new material is a big enough step forward to let the world know it is possible to buy something cleaner. This is just the first step; it’s our hope that other brands see this as interesting and join the effort to innovate and implement alternatives to traditional neoprene that is used in wetsuits.”