We hope one day to have as many participant observers like Jake, saying things like this about some of our group’s initiatives, as Patagonia has admirers. The company gets alot of good press, and for all the right reasons. We have not tired of it yet. Fans of the founder already, we also believe in his company, and (as if anyone needed to be convinced) this New York Times profile helps to understand why:
…“We had customers looking for safe alternatives for those with latex allergy, and then we had customers looking for alternatives to petroleum-based products,” Mr. Martin said, “so a number of companies had been approaching us.”
Patagonia’s wet suit is the first widely available consumer product derived from Yulex guayule rubber. Patagonia introduced suits with a blend of 60 percent Yulex biorubber and 40 percent conventional rubber in Japan at the end of 2012 and has been refining them ever since. The new suit, for men only, has added features like a thermal lining made from recycled materials and a slick external coating that keeps the wind out. Eventually, the company plans to use 100 percent biorubber in its surf gear.
The company also plans an elaborate, cheeky marketing campaign showcasing the qualities of the natural rubber from the guayule plant. That rubber is nonallergenic; it lacks the proteins commonly found in rubber from the hevea tree, the major commercial source of natural rubber. “We have the best weed in town and we’re giving it away,” proclaims one magazine ad.
But the extent to which this matters to surfers is an open question, and the company may again be ahead of its customers, as it was with the switch to organic cotton.
At Rockaway Beach in New York on Wednesday morning, surfers were largely receptive to the idea of a green wet suit, though some balked at the price tag.
“You could get a good board for $500, used,” said Dr. Walter Valesky, who works in an emergency room, as he emerged from the waves near the 90th Street jetty. “That’s probably going to limit my love of all things natural.”
Fletcher Chouinard, Yvon’s son and the founder of a line of surfboards made at the Ventura campus, acknowledged the challenge, though he said that environmental attitudes among surfers varied across a wide spectrum.
Over all, he said, the market could be tough to crack. “It’s inherently selfish as a sport,” he said. “I don’t think people care enough. People are starting to put their money where their mouth is, but it’s slow.”
Read the whole story here.