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Handy Things to Do With Your Wetsuit Instead of Trashing It

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wetsuit recycling ideas

Awetsuit is an important piece of gear for divers, snorkelers, and surfers alike. The main function of a wetsuit is to keep you warm in the water. So, thanks to its great insulating properties, neoprene has become the primary material used in the manufacturing of wetsuits. That being said, neoprene is basically a synthetic rubber and is not biodegradable, which means that it is better to keep it out of landfills for as long as possible.

Depending on how actively a wetsuit is used, it can serve from one to five years. Considering the fact that according to estimates, as of 2019 there were around 6 million divers and 35 million surfers worldwide, who all have a wetsuit or even a couple of them, the number of discarded items can be very big. As most of the members of the diving and surfing communities are conscious of environmental issues and actively thrive to preserve nature, there are a great bunch of creative ideas of what you can do with your old wetsuit instead of trashing it. If this question has recently crossed your mind and you want to stay more environmentally friendly, keep reading to find out some useful tips on the matter.

Keep your wetsuit new for as long as possible

Before going into details on how to dispose of your old wetsuit, we’d like to emphasize that it is wise to take good care of it while it is still new, in order to prolong its useful life. Here are a few important points to remember:

  • Avoid leaving your wetsuit under direct sunlight. If you need to dry your wetsuit, it is better to hang it in a shady place or indoors.
  • Clean your wetsuit properly. Apart from direct sunlight, salt can also do real damage to your wetsuit. Thus, make sure to rinse it from outside as soon as you get out of the water, and from inside after you take it off. Regularly use some neoprene-friendly shampoo to get rid of the salt that may be collected in crevices.
  • Handle your suit gently. While taking it off, make sure you do not rush so you don’t rip or stretch it accidentally.

Gear Maintenance: How to Care for Your Wetsuit

For more useful tips on wetsuit care, check out this article.

Alright, you’ve done everything in your power to maintain your suit useful for as long as it can be but it does get old eventually anyway, so here is what you can do next.

Donate your wetsuit

Let’s say you are a seasoned diver or surfer who feels like the wetsuit is getting old and does not serve its purpose anymore. It may not serve well to you, indeed, however, your friend or acquaintance who is just getting into this kind of sport may find your old suit a treasure. You can also make a post on social media or just ask around in your community.

Besides, many organizations are specifically focused on making surfing and diving more accessible to people who are not able to afford it. They will gladly accept your old well-preserved wetsuit as a donation to distribute it further. You can check a few of such organizations in the table below.

OrganizationWebsiteWhat will happen to your wetsuit
Warm Currenthttp://www.warmcurrent.org/The wetsuits are distributed among the youngsters living on the Washington Coast
AmpSurfhttp://ampsurf.org/Your suit will help people with physical impairments who are using surfing as therapy.
Resurfhttps://resurf.com/Underprivileged children will find your wetsuit handy in their surfing lessons.
RERIPhttps://www.rerip.org/RERIP will find a successor for your old wetsuit. The main purpose is to keep it out of landfills.
Amigos Marinoshttp://www.amigosmarinos.org/Small-scale dive fishermen will be grateful for your wetsuit that will help to sustain their business.

There are also many similar organizations that do not have a website. You may need to ask around in your local community of surfers or divers to find one.

Recycle/Upcycle Your Wetsuit

Reincarnation is a way better destiny than rotting in a dumpster. If you’d like a better afterlife for your old worn-out wetsuit, consider upgrading it through a recycling program with one of the following organizations:

1. Green Guru (Worldwide) will turn your wetsuit into a backpack, bike carrier, insulated drink sleeve, or other outdoor accessory. Prior to sending your suit, check-up with them to find out whether they will accept it or not: recycling@greengurugear.com

2. Suga (Canada, US) will upgrade your suit into a high-quality yoga mat or a beach changing mat.

3. Lava Rubber (US) will use your old neoprene to create all sorts of useful products, such as trunk liners, yoga mats, utility mats, etc.

4. KASSIA+SURF (US) has partnered up with Suga and also recycles old wetsuits into yoga mats.

5. Reborn Rubber (US) makes wallets out of old wetsuits. If you donate your suit, you will get a free Reborn wallet.

6. Need Essentials (Worldwide) is a wetsuit and apparel company that focuses on reducing the overall costs that people spend on their sports gear while preserving the high quality of their products. The company has a recycling program, so if you buy your wetsuit from them, you can easily send it back.

7. Patagonia (Worldwide) Patagonia is an outdoor clothing, wetsuit and gear company that creates high-quality products out of eco-friendly materials. Patagonia’s wetsuits don’t contain neoprene and are made from Yulex, a natural rubber produced by Hevea trees. They also have a wetsuit recycling program.

OrganizationIncentivesWhat brand is accepted for recycling
Green Guru (Worldwide)N/AAll brands of wetsuits are accepted
Suga (Canada, US)10 off next purchaseAll brands of wetsuits are accepted
Lava Rubber (US)N/AAll brands of wetsuits are accepted
KASSIA+SURF (US)10-20% off next purchaseAll brands of wetsuits are accepted
Reborn Rubber (US)Free Reborn wallet for every wetsuit recycledAll brands of wetsuits are accepted
Need Essentials (Worldwide)N/AOnly Need Essentials wetsuits are accepted
Patagonia (Worldwide)N/AOnly Patagonia wetsuits are accepted

Repurpose Your Wetsuit

Another great way of making good use of the end of your wetsuit’s life is to mold it personally into something that will serve another purpose. Even if you do not have any prior experience in sewing or handcrafting, it may be a fun project to try out. It is not expensive at all and does not take much of your time. We have prepared a small list of ideas for you to consider:

1. The easiest thing that you can craft out of your old wetsuit is a mouse pad. You do not need to sew or to make stitches, simply cut out a rectangle of the appropriate size, and you’re done. Your mouse will nicely glide on the fabric side of the material.

2. Another simple project to consider is making a covering for a cat tree. Just cut a nice square and wrap it around the cat tree. It will grant more resistance and prolong the life of the tree.

3. You can also cut out a big square and use it for a dog bed.

4. If you don’t mind a bit of sewing, you can use your wetsuit’s material to create handy insulating drink koozies. Check a tutorial here.

5. Here is a guide on how to create a pouch keychain.

6. Oven mitts made of neoprene will work just as well as the store bought ones thanks to the flame and heat resistance of the material. Here are the instructions to make them.

7. If you don’t mind a bigger project, you can try to make a neoprene laptop case. Here is one example of such a case.

To conclude, you are not limited by these ideas. Let your creativity blossom. If you make something nice and useful out of your old wetsuit, post a picture on your social media explaining why it is important to do so. Spread the word, for the ideas have wings.

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