Except for the lucky few that get to enjoy the ocean all year in swim trunks, wetsuits are essential to every water sports enthusiasts. However, their disposal is becoming a growing concern. With the increasing popularity of activities such as surfing, diving, and paddleboarding, the number of wetsuits being discarded each year is adding up.
Neoprene is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and has a significant carbon footprint. And when they end up in landfills, wetsuits can take over 50 years to decompose! That's why it's important to start investing in petroleum-free alternatives and to prolong the life of the neoprene material already in circulation. And when the time finally comes, it's important to make sure we dispose of wetsuits in an environmentally responsible way. So we put together the following list of some of the ways we like to give a second life to old wetsuits, and encourage you to try some out for yourself!
#1: Downcycle the Wetsuit
Some programs turn old wetsuits into new products like wallets, yoga mats or even phone cases.
You can donate old wetsuits to us through our downcycling donation program! However due to the environmental damage associated with transporting goods over long distance and our production demands, we ask you to only donate wetsuits if you are in the Barcelona or Miami-Dade areas.
Suga makes premium 5mm yoga mats entirely from recycled wetsuits.
Lavarubber collects wetsuits and turns them into slippers, surf mats, yoga mats and coasters.
Neocombine put together a team of surfers, designers and friends to recycle old wetsuits into beach accessories such as bracelets and keychains.
#2: Donate the Wetsuit
There are organizations dedicated to running activities and education in the water. These organizations rely on donations and public funds, so a wetsuit donation can go a long way towards helping someone experience the ocean in a new way.
Warm Current provides access to free, fun, active and educational surfing programs for young kids. Their mission is to make surfing more accessible and more fun for to the Native youth on the Washington Coast.
Warm Current accepts used wetsuits and utilizes them for free community programs. They only accept 3/2 and 4/3 full wetsuits (no shorties, farmer johns, booties, or wetsuits with broken zippers, large holes, or other damage).
You can also donate to local programs that work in ocean conservation and/or education. The majority of these programs run through donations and every little bit helps.
#3: Sell the Wetsuit
Depending on the condition of the wetsuit you might be able to sell it to other people through social media or to surf shops on consignment .
#4: Re-Use the Wetsuit
Patch up Other Gear
If you have other neoprene items like wetsuits or dive suits with holes or tears, cut up the old wetsuit and use it as a patch.
Use the wetsuit to protect your bike or other outdoor equipment from scratches or other damage.
Knee or elbow pads
Cut it up and wetsuits make excellent knee or elbow pads for various sports, like skateboarding or rollerblading.
#5: Re-Purpose the Wetsuit
Neoprene is a very convenient material. Here are 4 creative ways to prolong its life, and don't be afraid to think outside the box with your own ideas!
Insulation or padding
Wetsuits can be used as insulation in your home or as padding in your pet's bed to make it more comfortable.
Cut up the wetsuit and use it as ground cover for gardening or landscaping. It can help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing.
Make home decor items
You can cut up the neoprene and use it to make items like cushion covers, table mats, or coasters.
Use it as stuffing
Cut up the wetsuit and use the neoprene as stuffing for toys or pillows, making them more comfortable and durable.
Wetsuit disposal is a significant environmental problem, but there are several solutions available for responsible disposal. By prolonging the life span of our wetsuits and making purchasing decisions that take responsibility for the care of the environment we can continue to enjoy our beloved oceans and protect them for many generations to come.
How long does neoprene take to decompose?
Neoprene can take over 100 years to decompose in a landfill.
How long does a wetsuit last?
The average lifespan of a petroleum wetsuit is around 1-2 years. However, a wetsuit can last anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the quality of the material and how well it is taken care of.
What can I do with a used wetsuit?
There are several options for disposing of a used wetsuit, including donating it to a community program or upcycling/downcycling program.
Can wetsuit material be recycled?
Yes, wetsuit material can be recycled, but the process is not widely available yet.
What happens to old wetsuits?
Many old wetsuits end up in landfills, where they take years to decompose.
How is neoprene disposed?
Neoprene can be recycled or upcycled, check out our downcycling program to learn more.
What is the environmental impact of wetsuits?
Wetsuits have a significant environmental impact, as they are made from non-biodegradable materials and often end up in landfills.