How a plant from Arizona is changing the face of Patagonia’s Wetsuits

A recent New York Times feature explains how Patagonia’s newest line of eco-friendly wetsuits, the Yulex, have shifted the paradigm of an industry historically dominated by a fossil fuel based neoprene industry by simply introducing the guayule plant (Parthenium argentatum) and natural rubber from hevea trees into the supply chain. The guayule plant is a hardy relative of the aster that is grown in Arizona and requires little water or chemical fertilizers to flourish. Once that plant is harvested, it can then be processed to create a non-allergenic natural rubber latex, the very material that when combined with renewable natural rubber from hevea trees (Hevea brasiliensis) grown in the highlands of Guatemala, Patagonia is not only reducing CO2 emissions by up to ~80% when compared to conventional, nonrenewable neoprene, but is also causing less harm to the planet we love and the oceans that give us waves to ride.

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