Quell Your Eco-Anxiety With SNS's Yulex Wetsuits
We’ve all had that feeling. Lying awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because we’re fretting about the ecological impacts of our choice of wetsuit. Maybe not. Most of the time, it’s pretty darn easy to simply not even pause to think of where your steamer actually came from let alone how the materials used to make it were sourced. Thankfully, someone else is thinking of that for us.
The concept of more sustainable wetsuits is not a new idea. Companies like Patagonia have been experimenting with alternative materials in this realm for a number of years. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s taken a considerable amount of time for most people to really start making a conscious step in this direction - at both ends of the supply and demand chain.
Whether the issue of anthropogenic climate change is even on your radar or not, the fact is it’s happening. But as consumers we’re not always afforded much choice when it comes to combating melting icebergs. Which is why we’re welcoming Sen no Sen’s sustainable wetsuit range with open arms. The team at their French headquarters have been working long and hard on a handful of steamers that are (unofficially) guaranteed to save the life of at least one polar bear. And on top of that, they’ve just sweetened the deal with perhaps the most cinematic wetsuit promo video since the industrial revolution.
Working with two alternatives to your traditional petroleum-based neoprene, SNS is presently offering three wetties made from a limestone-based neoprene and a fourth comprised of a material known as Yulex - a natural rubber. The latter of which, SNS founder Mathieu Desaphie flaunts as the creme de la creme of sustainable materials. “Yulex is even more eco-responsible as it's made from the sap of a Hevea tree, being grown on Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations in Guatemala,” he says. "Hevea rubber is the best-performing alternative to neoprene, and it can be sourced in a way that doesn't contribute to deforestation.”
But don’t let this deter your love for limestone. If you’d prefer to stick to something a little closer to the traditional neoprene feel, or you simply hate trees and penguins with a passion, the Limestone-based neoprene range is lighter, has better insulation, superior heat retention and is better fitting than the good ol’ version, meaning that over time it remembers the shape of your body. "This is why you will see it in 90% of the Thriatlhon wetsuits,” posits Desaphie. "Some of our customers keep their wetsuits 5 or 6 years before buying a new one. Limestone is definitely the best neoprene in the industry.”
Agreeing with this sentiment is a pretty sturdy list of Sen no Sen’s ambassadors including Andre Botha, Josh Garner, and European shredders Jeremy Arnoux and Martin Mouradian - all of whom are donning the greener wetsuits already.
While SNS aren’t the pioneers of either of these materials (Limestone neoprene was created by Japanese company Yamamoto in the early 2000’s & Patagonia has been using Yulex for years), you do have to applaud the company’s commitment to helping curb the ecological footprint of both surfing and bodyboarding. But at what cost? Like most things pro-green, chances are they cost an arm and a leg more than the pro-apathy version and at 349 euros ($AU561) each, these pieces of rubber are not an insubstantial investment.
Having said that, what price can you put on a good night’s sleep? Fret no more, eco-anxious boogers.