Wetsuits are primarily made out of neoprene, a non-biodegradable material made from petroleum. They’re bad for landfills, but ideal for making drink koozies, yoga mats, and small home improvement projects.
How Long Will a Scuba Wetsuit Last?
A quality wetsuit can last one to five years depending on how frequently you dive and how well it’s been cared for. To give your wetsuit the longest possible life, clean your wetsuit after every dive (or dive holiday) using a neoprene-safe shampoo. Let it completely air dry indoors or in a shady spot. Keep the wetsuit out of the sun as much as possible.
Neoprene compresses during every dive and, over time, loses its ability to insulate. So even if your wetsuit doesn’t show signs of wear, if it’s not keeping you warm during the dive you need to retire the suit. Other reasons to replace a wetsuit include: rips and tears, accumulated salt crystals, or if the suit no longer fits.
Donate Your Gently-Used Wetsuit
If you have a wetsuit in good condition that no longer fits, consider donating it. Companies such as Warm Current take used wetsuits and utilize them for free community programs. Because the wetsuits are used for surfing, Warm Current only needs 3/2 and 4/3 full wetsuits (no shorties, farmer johns, booties, or wetsuits with broken zippers, large holes, or other damage). Wetsuits can be mailed to: 15 NE Saratoga St. Portland, OR 97211.
Recycle Your Wetsuit
Patagonia will take back any of their used products for recycling, including their wetsuits. Drop off your clean, dry wetsuit at the Patagonia Retail Store nearest you or at a participating Patagonia dealer. Items can also be mailed to the Patagonia Service Center at 8550 White Fir Street, Reno, NV 89523-8939, USA.
Rip Curl (Australia)
Divers in Australia can mail used wetsuits and rubber thongs (flip-flops) to: Rip Curl Retail, 101 Surf Coast Hwy, Torquay, VIC 3228, Australia. Donations can be broken down into bits and used in bitumen (asphalt), or upcycled through Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous Program.
Upcycle Your Wetsuit
Green Guru (Worldwide, Primarily North America)
Green Guru accepts used bike tubes, wetsuits, and vinyl banners for upcycling. They do not accept wetsuit booties, gloves or anything slimey. Depending on the material, donations are made into backpacks, insulated drink sleeves and bike carriers, and other outdoor gear.
To donate, first send a picture of your item to RECYCLING@GREENGURUGEAR.COM. The company will confirm whether they can accept your donation or not. If approved, you can mail it to Green Guru or drop it off at a participating retail location. In exchange for your donation, the company offers a discount code towards the purchase of new gear.
Suga (Canada, US)
Suga makes yoga mats and beach changing mats out of old wetsuits. Over the last few years, Suga has collected more than 12,500 used wetsuits and diverted more than 32 tons of waste from landfills. Donate to Suga by dropping off your clean, dry wetsuit at a participating surf shop in the US or Canada or mail to: SUGA, LLC 1106 2nd St., Suite 862 Encinitas, CA 92024, USA.
Lava Rubber (US)
New Jersey-based Lava Rubber makes yoga mats, coasters, food mats for dogs and cats and other products out of used wetsuits. You can send clean donations to:
2138 Bridge Ave.
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
DIY Ideas for a Used Wetsuit
If you have a pair of scissors, a leather needle and a thimble, you can easily transform an old wetsuit into useful household items such as beer koozies, a GoPro case, laptop sleeve, or a sunglass holder.
Even if you don’t sew, you can cut small circles out of the wetsuit and place them under table and chair legs to prevent scrapes on wood floors. Cut away the torso section and use as a mat for pet food bowls. Use the remaining material to cut out coasters, or a mouse pad.
Recycling or upcycling your used wetsuit is so easy, the hardest part may be digging it out of your dive bag!