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Eco-Friendly Wetsuits. Can You Say Guayule?

Patagonia Yulex Wetsuits

Eco-conscious surfers can now say “No” to petroleum-based neoprene garb, and say “Yes” to Yulex biorubber wetsuits.

Patagonia is now making wetsuits made with Yulex biorubber. Derived from the guayule plant, the suits mark a shift away from traditional, non-renewable neoprenes. “By designing and developing a homegrown alternative that performs better in the water and has a far less toxic production process, we’re staying true to our long-term mission: build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,” states a Patagonia press release.

“When we started making wetsuits, we quickly identified neoprene as a material that needed improvements to lessen its environment impact. So we met with the folks from Yulex who wanted to leverage the unique properties of the guayule plant, a hearty desert shrub native to the southwestern United States. Thus began a collaborative long-term project to develop a wetsuit material from guayule rubber.”

Compared to traditional neoprene made from petroleum (or limestone), guayule rubber is a renewable resource that provides improved elasticity and softness and can be replaced faster than the product wears out. The agriculture is low-impact and the extraction and processing uses little energy and few chemicals.

Patagonia’s wet suit is the first widely available consumer product derived from Yulex guayule rubber. The new suit, for men only, has added features like a thermal lining made from recycled materials and a slick external coating that keeps the wind out. Eventually, the company plans to use 100 percent biorubber in its surf gear.