Surfers are known to be a weed-friendly bunch, but beyond hippie clothes made from hemp, few actually wear it. In a new ad that will appear in print publications in the fall, Patagonia proclaims to be offering just that possibility.
In reality, the ad--”We have the best weed in town (and we’re giving it away).”--is a bait-and-switch, given that the brand’s latest plant-based wetsuits are made from a weed, but not that weed.
For the last few years, the company has been working to make its wetsuits--traditionally constructed from the petroleum-based rubber material neoprene, which is made in a “highly toxic” manufacturing process--more environmentally friendly. At first, it tried to use other insulating materials, like wool, to reduce the use of neoprene in wetsuits, but quickly realized that it needed to create a new material that could actually allow them to totally get rid of neoprene.
To that end, it has partnered with Yulex, a company that makes plant-based bio-rubbers derived from the guayule plant, a desert shrub Patagonia says is grown in the American southwest without any pesticides. The companies co-developed a wetsuit material that's made from 60% guayule rubber and 40% neoprene, and put the product on sale in some markets last year. This year, Patagonia is expanding its offerings.
Patagonia’s long-term goal is to build a wetsuit that’s 100% made from the guayule plant, but to do that, the material will have to become less expensive. The ad touts Patagonia’s decision to open-source its plant wetsuit formula, so that more companies will manufacture it, bringing the volume up and the price down. It’s a similar move to electric car company Tesla’s recent decision to open-source its battery technology patents--because more electric cars on the road is beneficial to the whole industry.
In a blog post, Patagonia’s “surf ambassador” Dan Malloy states, “We can now grow our wetsuits, instead of drilling for them.” Yeah, man.
[Image: Wetsuit via Shutterstock]