Plant-Based Wetsuits

Our Winter 2013 photo essay,Change Your Clothes,” highlighted novel, ecofriendly fabrics and other green technologies taking hold in the resource-intensive fashion industry. Clothing manufacturer Patagonia is a leader in sustainable fashion innovation, and it’s surging ahead with the production of plant-based wetsuits.

Patagonia recently teamed up with the clean-tech Yulex Corporation to develop a stretchy, insulating, and quick-drying alternative to petroleum-based neoprene: a biorubber made from guayule (Parthenium argentatum). This flowering shrub, a member of the aster family and a native of the southwestern U.S., can be grown with little water and no pesticides. Even though Patagonia’s new wetsuit design contains 60 percent guayule-based rubber, the company says this is just the first step toward reaching its goal of a 100 percent plant-based product.

Photo Parthenium argentatum, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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