Wetsuit Environmental and Sustainability
Please allow us to be perfectly upfront. There are a handful of companies that are manufacturing wetsuits out of limestone rubber and then marketing them as environmentally friendly. Currently, wetsuit rubber is either made of petroleum, which begins with oil exploration and drilling. The alternative is made of limestone, which begins with mining. Both petroleum and limestone have taken hundreds of thousands of years to produce and both are nonrenewable resources. Both are in limited supply on our earth, require heat, and create pollution and waste to refine into a finished product. To claim that a limestone wetsuit is “green” is just not true, at least not yet.
It is apparent in light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that limestone is cleaner when one considers the risk of environmental disasters. The factory that makes our GreenGoma™ uses much less heat to refine it as compared to its petroleum counterpart. This is a step in the right direction.
In order for us to step away from limestone in the future, we need to first step away from petroleum and look for other “greener” options. The idea of trying to create a green wetsuit has inspired us to change to recycled internal fabrics with no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) dyes. The use of non-toxic laminates and adhesives during the assembly process are additional steps in our goal. We are getting closer to finding water-based adhesives that are stronger and more flexible. Finally we are working with YKK on developing a wetsuit zipper made of recycled materials.
As for recyclability and sustainability, no wetsuit rubber in the world is recyclable. Yes, old triathlon wetsuits can and should be re-used for other sports, or can be cut up and used as potholders, used for insulation and even be turned into beer and soft drink koozies. For now, the most obvious form of sustainability is simply that we have created a wetsuit that will last longer, so you will not have to replace it as soon.
Before any of us can swim 2.4 miles, we first need to get across the length of a pool. When it comes to making a greener wetsuit, we are the first to dive in!