Image via: B9 on Youtube
Recycled plastic soda bottles are now showing up in everything from toothbrushes to park benches to jackets and now they are even being molded into the 2009 Platinum B9 (b9 = pronounced "benign") wetsuit by Billabong. Plus the new suits come with anti-shark invisibility resin. 90% of the B9 wetsuit is made from recycling polyester products like old fishing nets and clothing, keeping that garbage out of the ocean. This makes the sharks (and other marine life) happy, in a karmic sort of way, thus keeping them off of you.
Why didn't they use natural materials like hemp, soy or corn? In looking at all of the options, they felt that their best choice was to keep something out of the landfill and recycle it into a new product rather than use more raw materials, even if they were eco-friendly. But they didn't want to recycle the materials if it was going to mean more emissions than just using natural materials, so they used the best system they could find, which results in 80% less energy consumed and 80% fewer emissions generated than production of a traditional wetsuit.
To make the suits more advanced, they worked with noted orthopedist CORE to develop "Proprioceptive Feedback Riding Enhancement" (PFRE - pronounced "free") - try saying that five times fast - to make the knee and elbow joints more responsive. Also, the few ink colors that they do have on the suit are made from water-based inks.
Billabong is also contributing their eco-suede boardshorts, made from recycled textiles and plastic soda bottles - the same material that the wetsuit. In total, over 3 million plastic bottles have been diverted from landfills in order to make these boardshorts alone. Both the wetsuits and the boardshorts are available as part of the project BLUE program which donates a portion of each sale to Surfrider Foundation and ocean protection.
Bonus: If you bring in your old wetsuit for them to recycle, when you purchase the new suit, you get $25 off the purchase price of the new suit. The wetsuits retail for USD$450 and can be purchased online at Billabong, project BLUE and in select surf stores. :Billabong :project BLUE
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