Wetsuits! Whether you’re surfing in freezing waters or the warm tropics, chances are you’ve worn one. Traditionally wetsuits are made from a kind of rubber called neoprene, a synthetic material that cannot be recycled and therefore ends up in landfills, adding to the already large amount of waste on our Earth. This leads us to the new wave of eco-friendly wetsuits where brands are putting sustainability at the front of their mission. In the past it was hard to even find wetsuits made for women, let alone ones designed by women for women, with the environment in mind.
Today there are a ton of women-owned brands that are diving into the market, offering more eco-conscious wetsuit options. These wetsuits are made with more sustainable and recycled materials including limestone-based neoprene and Yulex, natural rubber, and an alternative to traditional neoprene. Many women-owned brands are paving the way for more sustainable options include Seaa wetsuits, which use recycled fabrics, and local factories + vendors to create eco-friendly wetsuits and limit their environmental impact.
Some of the smaller women-owned swimwear and wetsuit brands include Atmosea, a brand whose goal is to empower women surfers and use more sustainable materials in their products, and Ansea (plant-based performance), which focuses on sustainable, eco-friendly, and multifunctional designs for women both in and out of the water. There’s also Tuulikki NYC, a sustainable and consciously-produced swimwear line out of New York, La Bamba, a woman-owned eco-friendly wetsuit company, and of course, Patagonia, where many sustainable wetsuit designers first got their start. These brands are striving to design eco-friendly, beautiful wetsuits and swimwear to best fit the modern-day woman.
Out of the United Kingdom comes the minimalist SRFACE Eco wetsuits which are constructed from a neoprene-free natural rubber called Lexcell™️ developed by Yulex®, and come fully double-lined with recycled lining. All full wetsuits are shipped in re-usable shipping bags made from 100% recycled plastic including carbon-neutral delivery. More information on their sustainability methodology is located here.
One of the most sustainable things you can do when buying a wetsuit is to make sure that you are buying a good quality wetsuit that will last you multiple seasons. Fast fashion is an issue that creates a ton of unnecessary waste that is ending up in landfills every day. Choosing higher quality products that will last longer from smaller (even better if they are local!) companies greatly reduces your carbon footprint and helps keep our oceans clean for future generations.
However, we all end up needing a new wetsuit at some point so when it comes time to buy a new wetsuit you can participate in a wetsuit recycling program that will take your old beat up wetsuit and repurpose it into something new, like a yoga mat. These programs help keep wetsuits and neoprene out of landfills and recycle them into helpful new products.
Kassia + Surf is a women-owned brand that will take your old wetsuit and repurpose it into a yoga mat by the Suga company. Plus they’ll give you a discount on a new wetsuit for recycling your old one! There are many other companies out there that will also repurpose your wetsuit, including Green Guru Gear and Lava Rubber upcycle.
Just remember that you have to either take or send your old wetsuit to one of these recycling programs. You can not just put it in the recycling bin at your house.
There are many options out there to have a more eco-friendly and sustainable surfing wardrobe, and supporting women-owned businesses that focus on eco-consciousness is one of the many ways to help. Buying a more sustainably made wetsuit that will last you multiple seasons is a great way to bring an environmentally friendly dimension to your surfing and ocean-exploring lifestyle.
Now get out there, suit up responsibly, and catch some waves!
Harper Smith is a college student at the University of Oregon studying education and a writer and contributor at withitgirl. She loves surfing, hiking, and making art! Harper is currently enrolled in the Earth Chater Youth Leadership Certification sponsored by withitgirl.
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Other notable brands:
Anowi Surfwear: A women-owned swimwear brand that focuses on designing swimwear to fit and move with a woman’s body, along with using eco-friendly materials from local vendors.
PICTURE: An outdoor gear brand based out of France that focuses on transparency and climate action in all of its products.
Finisterre: A brand that focuses on sustainability and uses Yulex to design functional and sustainable wetsuits.
Sisstr revolution: A wetsuit brand that uses limestone-based neoprene and eco-friendly water-based lamination.