Updated: May 17
I’ve always been looking for a wetsuit hanger that can hold all my surf gear in one place. Also something with a mission to help our environment and find solutions to ocean waste. Ecotribo has been my side project for the last few years and it’s gathering steam- Designing products that ‘Clean our seas and plant positivity’. I’m always looking for ways to tackle and utilise waste streams in the production of my art, design, and recycled products. So far I have been making plant pots from ocean plastics and collaborating with Rideguard to make mudguards from recycled industrial plastics. And now I have launched a wetsuit hanger made from recycled wetsuits and FSC wood and manufactured right here in Bristol.
Comfortably dries a full length mens wetsuit, gloves & booties
Easily hangs from just about anywhere
Hand-made from sustainable FSC wood and recycled wetsuits
Proudly made in Bristol United Kingdom
Our oceans demand we do better. In the United Kingdom alone, around 380 tonnes of old wetsuits end up in landfill every year according to research done by the University of Exeter. Countless more pile up in our sheds, garages and clubhouses. As surfers and ocean lovers, we like to think of ourselves as a pretty eco-friendly bunch. We love the natural world that we play in and ensure we recycle everything we can.
But surfboards and wetsuits are unfortunately responsible for some pretty damaging pollution. PU surfboards are a notoriously harmful mix of chemicals, that damage the environment in the manufacturing process and are near on impossible to recycle.
Some positive outcomes for our planet.
Fortunately, due to awareness around the problem, we are beginning to see some fantastic new surfboard manufacturing processes. There are new products that utilise converted locally abundant sugarcane biomass that is polymerized and expanded into the rigid foam with links to biotechnologies based in the Netherlands. Whilst Entropyresins make a bio-based surf resin, which is what I use in my #handsupforthesea coat hanger product.
Wetsuits have similar challenges, as the materials are generally made from a variety of petroleum-based composites. Patagonia has made some big strides in finding eco-friendly alternatives to petroleum-based neoprene. They have a great product made with sustainable natural rubbers called Yulex. It’s still early days in the industry so in the meantime most of our wetsuits are not recycled and end up in a landfill.
Wetsuits are currently made from a number of different composite materials
Wetsuit material is complex. A single suit can use up to 15 different types of neoprene and/or rubber composites. When these materials are combined in these ways it makes it hard to separate the materials at the end of their lives. This makes wetsuit recycling nearly impossible at this point.
Be the change you want to see
I have been fascinated by sustainability and material design and how it can bring about positive change for several years. With a variety of my design and art projects, I have always tried to utilise waste materials and create a circular economy. I admit it’s not perfect but am on a journey, taking steps towards a very idealistic goal, so please bear with me!
By making and trying new things I hope to raise awareness and find solutions. I hope that by utilising this recycled/upcycled wetsuit material I can make a product that is useful and brings positive outcomes for our environment. The wetsuit hangers straps are made from wetsuits I get from surfer friends and local surf clubs. (Please get in touch if you have any and I would be happy to take them off your hands and ensure they don’t end up in land-fill). The hanger body is made from a sustainable FSC wood which is CNC’d locally here in Bristol by a KWMC Factory, a community based digital fabrication factory. The wetsuit straps are then sewn by a local seamstress with an industrial sewing machine providing local people with work.
I am so grateful for the positive messages and reviews of the product so far. I hope that by bringing awareness to this issue I can be a small cog in the machine that brings about lasting positive change. Please subscribe and join me on the journey.