10 Things you can do with your wetsuit instead of trashing it

10 Things you can do with your wetsuit instead of trashing it

Wetsuits are critically important if you plan to dive below the thermocline or swim in cold water for an extended period of time. A frequently used wetsuit that is properly cared for might last 4 or 5 years. Raw estimates as of 2019 say the number of worldwide divers and surfers is 6 million and 35 million respectively. If half of the surfers and divers use a wetsuit regularly (and it’s probably more) that’s 5 million wetsuits discarded every year! (40Million divided by 2 equals 20M divided by 4yrs).

The dive and surf community is comprised of individuals who love the ocean and realize the importance of conservation efforts now more than ever so throwing a wetsuit out is often at odds with their environmental ethos. Even if you don’t fall into that category you can still do your part for the environment by donating or Upcycling instead of trashing your wetsuit. The options below are fantastic ways to upcycle an old wetsuit that is no longer sea worthy.

-Donate and support companies that upcycle and repurpose wetsuits-

1.) SugaMats and LavaRubber – Yoga Mats

Both SugaMats and LavaRubber accept used wetsuits from those wanting to give their wetsuit a second life. SugaMats has a number of recycle bin locations set up around the country so if you are close to one you can stop by and personally drop it off. Both Suga and LavaRubber use donated neoprene to make yoga mats however the difference between these companies is that Sugamats recycles wetsuits (breaks the material down chemically into elemental form) while LavaRubber upcycles the wetsuits they receive. Both are a fantastic option for those looking to donate their wetsuit.

2.) RebornRubber – Wallets

Reborn Rubber (yours truly) upcycles donated wetsuits to make slim wallets. Sending in your wetsuit will get you a free slim wallet of your choice. Neoprene is buoyant and bendable which makes for a rugged wallet that will float if you accidentally lose it on the water. 10% of each purchase is donated to ocean clean up as well.

3) Warm Current – Community Program Re-Use

Warm Current is a non-profit organization that runs surf camps along the Washington coast. Donating your wetsuit to warm current will help them outfit their camp participants while they are out in the water.

4) Green Guru – BackPacks and other outdoor gear

Not only will Green Guru accept your used wetsuit, they also accept inner tubes and climbing ropes that they upcycle into various products such as backpacks, wallets and other gear. This company is based out of Colorado but has partnered with various bike shops around the country to place Upcycling bins where donations can be dropped. Visit their site to find locations and how donating can get you a discount on their upcycled products.

5.) Wetsuit Wearhouse – Discounts for wetsuit donation

The Wetsuit Wearhouse has implemented some green iniatives of their own however they are not in the business of Upcycling wetsuits into other products. They will however accept your donated wetsuit and forward it to SUGA (mentioned above) and give you a 15% discount on products sold in their shop.

- Repurposing your wetsuit personally -

6.) Make a Laptop sleeve / bag – Cushion and Carry Utilization

You won’t need to insulate your laptop however because neoprene is a bendable foam rubber it will conform nicely to the shape of a laptop as well as provide a soft tactile feel and some cushion. Neoprene laptop cases can be relatively simple to make and can be made using a sewing machine with some denim needles or hand stitched.

The guide from from Saul on instructables below provides a detailed overview of the process.

Neoprene Laptop Bag - Instructables

7.) Beer can koozies – Insulation Utilization

Neoprene’s primary use is for insulation in the context of diving and surfing. This carry’s over well when you’d like your drink to stay cold on a hot day. Beer or soda can koozies are a popular way to re-use an old wetsuit

The tutorial below from CraftySurf makes repurposing your wetsuit into a beer koozie simple by incorporating the use of tape instead of stitch (although if you prefer to stitch go for it).

Fosters can koozie from an old wetsuit

8.) Oven Mitts – Heat Resistance Utilization

Neoprene is Flame and heat resistant. Choosing to upcycle your old wetsuit into a pair of oven mitts will work just as well as store bought mitts and leave you with enough spare neoprene to make something else. The oven mitt sewing tutorial linked below is not neoprene specific but you can easily use these instructions to make the mitts from neoprene.

Direction to sew an oven mitt - TheSpruceCrafts

9.) Dog Beds and Doormats – Tear and Abrasion Resistance

If you have cats, wrapping a square of your wetsuit neoprene around a cat tree can provide some additional grip and prolong the life of your cat tree. If you’ve got a couple wetsuits to recycle, cutting the largest square of the suit and layering it will make a nice bed with some cushion for a small dog.

10.) Mouse Pads

This is probably the easiest DIY way to upcycle your wetsuit as you won’t need to stitch or sew. Wetsuits will commonly have a single sided or double sided fabric cover. This makes an old wetsuit perfect for making a mouse cover. The fabric covered side of the neoprene allows your mouse to glide gently over the surface while the underside (exposed neoprene) will stick nicely to your desk’s surface.