Wetsuit Up-Cycling Scheme

Do you have an old wetsuit rotting in the garage? If so, we want it!

We are super excited to be working with our friends, Dirtbags Co, who are based in The Lake District on a new collaboration to create a range of products made from your old wetsuits.

As wetsuits are near impossible to recycle, they are a huge issue when they end up in landfill.  This is why we want to up-cycle as many as possibly, into new useful products!

Like so many of today's everyday products, wetsuits came about after World War II when the Regina Marina (Italian Royal Marines) wore rubber suits during the war when neoprene was developed.  This formed the first 'second skin' type of wetsuit which could be easily worn and still see today.

There is much debate over who officially invented the wetsuit as we know it.

In 1951 the the Hugh Brandner developed the wetsuits further for the US Navy but the US government rejected the designs and the suits were never created or made commercially available.  By 1957 Bradner did not envisage the wetsuits being a commercial success as so little people dived for recreation so there was never a patent created.  

Bob Meistrell an American business man, surfer and diver joined the US Army and later setup a surf shop with diver Bev Morgan.  Morgan discovered the non patented and rejected wetsuit from Bradner and decided to start selling them in their surf and diving shop in Redondo Reach, California.  It did not become popular though until 1959 when the famous surf film Gidget which told the story of the Malibu surf culture from the perspective of Kathy a young talented surfer growing up in Malibu. 

At the same time an Oregon based business man and surfer Jack O'Neill is said to have also invented the wetsuit.  Although Brandner, according to the history books is said to have invented the wetsuit, O'Neill was very much responsible for the innovation, commercialisation and development of the wetsuit, especially for surfers.

Photo by Katie Rodriguez

Photo by Katie Rodriguez

Fast forward to the 21st century and the technology has advanced to create wetsuits which can be comfortably worn in sub zero temperatures by surfers, swimmers and divers.  Once a difficult and expensive product to buy, wetsuits are now sold world wide and the wetsuit industry is said to be worth $1.18 Billon. 

There are nearly 5 million wetsuits sold every year, prices vary from just $30 up to around $500. 

The problem is most wetsuits are made from neoprene, neoprene is an oil base material made from petroleum.  Whilst there has been lots of innovation to create new neoprenes developed from natural rubbers by Yulex, the vast majority of wetsuits remain made from the original type of neoprene which has not changed much since its invention.  These cannot be recycled and even though they can be repaired to an extent, wetsuits will often end up in landfill. 

It is estimated 380 tonnes of wetsuit waste ends up in land fill every year (research by Finisterre).  As the wetsuits are non biodegradable, and when they break down emit harmful chemicals we need to ensure they are kept out of landfill where possible.

We the help of our friends Dirtbags in the Lake District we have therefore launched a scheme to up-cycle your old wetsuit into a variety of new useful products such as changing mats, yoga mats, camping mats, lap top cases, phone cases, key holder and coasters. 

Dirtbags collaboration to up-cycle wetsuits

The scheme launches today 1st April, and will run for the whole Summer.  We will be accepting your old wetsuit by post and will also have various drop in points at surf and diving shops around the UK.  

If you can ensure the wetsuit is dry and clean, then pop in an old plastic bag (as we can recycle the bag and puts it to good use!)

Please post to; 

Inland Sea
Floor 2, The Old Sunday School
Roe Street
SK11 2UT

Participating Surf and Outdoor shops;

West Coast Surf Shop, Lon Pen Cei, Abersoch, Pwllheli LL53 7AP

Funsport Rhosneigr Surf Shop, 1 Beach Terrace, Rhosneigr, LL64 5QB

Email us if you are a surf/outdoor shop that would like one of our drop bins and we will send one out.  

Up-cycle your old wetsuit
Photo by Phil Boyd