UK ethical clothing company, Inland Sea, and UK outdoor recreation recycling company, Dirtbags, have joined forces to collect and upcycle old wetsuits into a range of different products.
The nationwide ‘DROP IN’ campaign aims to divert 380 tonnes worth of wetsuits entering landfill each year; giving them a second life in the form of mats, laptop cases and sunglasses cases!
380 Tonnes Of Wetsuits End Up In Landfill Each Year
Did you know that surfing is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world? Whether it’s for recreational purposes or competitive sport — like we recently saw in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — there’s no doubt that more people are zipping up their wetsuits and getting out into the water. Its popularity is reflected in the global wetsuits market, too. By 2022, it’s expected to reach USD$1.18 billion.
With more people purchasing and using wetsuits, there’s bound to be more wetsuits thrown out, too. Wetsuits are typically made from a stretchy, synthetic rubber material called neoprene, among other materials, which are impossible to separate and recycle at the end of their life. It’s estimated that around 380 tonnes of wetsuits end up in landfill each year. Whilst wetsuits cannot be recycled, the unique material from wetsuits can be upcycled (repurposed) into various items!
Inland Sea x Dirtbags | DROP IN Campaign
To combat the growing pollution from wetsuits, Inland Sea and Dirtbags have collaborated on the ‘DROP IN’ campaign.
Inland Sea, an ethical fashion company founded by Adam Costello in 2017, sells sustainable womenswear, menswear and accessories — including their iconic T-shirts made from seaweed fibre! Dirtbags retrieve used outdoor gear — like climbing ropes, wetsuits, and rucksacks — and upcycles them into unique outdoor clothes and accessories. Together, they’ve launched a nationwide campaign for people to ‘drop in’ their old wetsuits to a designated collection point.
“During lockdown, we’ve seen a huge rise in people swimming outdoors, in oceans, rivers and lakes which is fantastic! However, this has increased the demand for wetsuits,” says Adam. Approximately 5 million wetsuits are sold every year, which results in more non-biodegradable materials in landfill.
These Products Are Made From 100% Recycled Wetsuits!
Together, the two companies have created a line of items made from 100% upcycled wetsuits — including laptop cases, sunglasses cases, and changing mats for surfers! Each item looks and feels like a wetsuit — the laptop case even features an upcycled zip from a wetsuit! These awesome items show that just about anything can be repurposed into something brand new.
"We want to try and provide a solution by repurposing a material that can't as yet be recycled. We feel like we hit the tip of the iceberg with climbing gear, but wetsuits are another thing; a total different iceberg of unrecyclable, inevitable landfill," said a spokesperson for Dirtbags Climbing.
Imagine if your old wetsuit was transformed into one of these products? So cool!
A Sustainable Shift In The Wetsuit Industry
In a circular economy, nothing goes to waste. Certain items, like wetsuits, are designed to be worn for a very long time — but inevitably, they go straight to landfill. That’s why Inland Sea founder, Adam Costello, wants to see a sustainable shift in the industry.
"The ultimate goal is to see wetsuit manufacturers change the way suits are made to tackle the problem at the root, but right now we have 380 tonnes of wetsuit going straight to landfill each year,” he says.
“While recycling isn’t an option, upcycling wetsuits into useful products is something we can do and hope to see more businesses doing in the future. We want to draw the government's attention to this problem and people’s eagerness to tackle the climate emergency."
We’d love to see more old wetsuits being transformed into cool new items! For more information about the campaign and where to send your wetsuits, check out Dirtbags and Inland Sea.
There are so many amazing ways to upcycle tricky items — take a look at the blogs below for more inspiration.