But as is apparent across other industries, so-called environmentally friendly alternatives often just see the problem shift from one subject to another. Traditionally, Hevea plants are native to the Amazon rainforest where the issues around such cash crops are well documented.
‘It’s really important to recognise that sourcing natural rubber on the open trade market can result in clear cutting of rainforest ecosystems, which again could be worse than the petrochemical process, and only 1% of natural rubber is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council,’ says Gabe. ‘Sri Lanka is where Yulex have their FSC Certified Hevea rubber trees which are tapped for their natural rubber.’
So what’s the impact of better sourced material on the final performance of these environmentally conscious wetsuits, something that brands occupying the space have worked tirelessly to build over the last decade? Does being environmentally conscious mean compromising performance and perhaps even comfort or durability?
‘If you want a super-flex suit with a limited lifespan, then don’t buy Yulex – that’s not why we use it. We design our suits to be repairable, long-lasting and multifunctional. We stand by our products and try and keep them in the water for as long as possible,’ says Gabe. ‘The first point of failure on a suit is usually the seams, rather than the rubber panels, or the recycled liners which coat the inside and outside of the suit so repair is our first course of action with our suits.’