The sustainable surfer
An estimated 380 tons of wetsuit waste are dumped every year. One company has set out to come up with a solution to this problem by inventing the world's first fully recyclable wetsuit.

On the north coast of Cornwall

Out the top of St Agnes, a steep village on Cornwall’s north coast is the headquarter of the pioneering marine conservation charity “Surfers Against Sewage”, its big green eye logo staring at zero-waste shop Incredible Bulk. Next door to that is Canteen, a community-minded cafe uniting local people over £5 meals and long trestle tables. Often they are ravenous from a surf or beach clean at Trevaunance Cove down the cliff, a hypersaturated blue on this scorcher of a summer’s day.

Finisterre – an outdoor apparel company focused on sustainability

Then there is Finisterre, an outdoor apparel company focused on sustainability and functionality. Tom Kay, who founded the business 15 years ago, meets me in the office breakout area. The place has the sweet, salty tang of surfboard wax, and Kay’s dog, Otis, roams around under employees’ desks. Finisterre’s aim, says Kay, part hippy, part focused businessman, is to connect people with the sea. “We believe that they experience better wellbeing, better health, better spirituality, mental space,” he says. Once a week at Finisterre, staff start an hour late so they can participate in “Sea Tuesday” – getting wet in whatever way floats their boat, board, or body. “Hopefully, there comes with that a guardianship, realizing the importance of looking after the sea”.

What the sea gives us, we rarely give back

After all, what the sea gives us, we seldom give back. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II kickstarted a nationwide battle against the single-use plastics clogging the oceans. Surfers have an intimate relationship with the water, but the damage they do goes under-reported. Wetsuits are made of neoprene; a synthetic rubber originally invented to line landfill sites: good for staying warm while surfing in December, less so for the environment. Finisterre estimates 380 tonnes of wetsuit waste ends up dumped every year. Eighteen months ago, Kay decided to do something about it. Wetsuits from Wetsuits is Finisterre’s mission to create the world’s first fully recyclable wetsuit and to pioneer the means of recycling any old suit.

Biodegradable rubber in wetsuits

Finisterre already uses a biodegradable rubber in its wetsuits and makes clothes from Econyl – recycled nylon made from discarded fishing nets and carpet tiles. Fully recyclable wetsuits are the next step. “We have an outlook to do something about these problems if we can,” says Kay. “We’re very much involved in solving these problems in innovation.”

Read the full story: The Guardian – The sustainable surfer

09/08/2019 by
Duotone Kiteboarding

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