How To Protect The Oceans We Dive In - 4 Practical Solutions

October 17, 2022 4 min read

hands holding a model of the world against an ocean backdrop to represent ocean conservation

We are all aware of the sad reality of the effect that climate change is having on our environment, particularly our oceans and beaches. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic waste is entering our seas every year which not only has a devastating effect on marine life, but on tourism industries worldwide. As scuba divers, we are ambassadors of the ocean and there is always more that we can do to get involved in protecting the environment and creating awareness for ocean protection.

Choose Eco-Conscious Suppliers

The good news is that there are suppliers in the dive industry who are working hard to make a difference. At Aquanauts Headquarters, we aim to work with suppliers who prioritise caring for the environment as much as we do. Fourth Element have an ‘Ocean Positive’ movement, which encourages people to think about what we can do in our every day lives to have a positive impact on the ocean and the environment in general. What sets Fourth Element apart is the fact that protecting the environment has been the deep ethos of the company since they opened their doors in 1999. This motion starts with the individual efforts of staff, and stretches to working with organisations worldwide.

Their Cornwall-based building is powered by solar panels, toilet paper is 100% recyclable and even the milk is delivered in glass bottles from the local dairy rather than shop-bought plastic bottles. Scraps from wetsuits are recycled at source to avoid waste during production, leftover fabric from rashguards and swimwear is turned into items such as face masks and neck buffs, and by ordering from smaller suppliers, creation of waste along the line of production is reduced.

Fourth Element’s product range is well thought through – they do not churn out product after product, some of which won’t sell and therefore go to waste. When a new product comes out, there is a meaning behind it– a quirk or benefit to divers and the environment. For example, their Scout mask comes with a half shell mask case, so you can still store your mask in your fin whilst in its protective case! Packaging like this continues to have life and purpose after purchase and serve to repurpose materials.

Address The Plastic Packaging Problem

In 2021, ScubaPro launched a Responsible Packaging Initiative, aiming to remove plastic from their packaging. Here at Aquanauts we saw first-hand the progress they have made in store this week when we had a delivery of the eco-friendly Scubapro Everflex Yulex wetsuit (read more about this product below) which we were delighted to see came in 100% recyclable paper packaging! 

Behind the scenes at Aquanauts HQ, all packaging that we receive is reused and recycled. Boxes are broken down and cardboard stuffing reused to package the products we send out. We do not give out plastic bags. For some products, avoiding plastic is essentially not possible. For example, mask boxes are still made from plastic for the obvious reasons of masks being delicate to transport, however , with a little initiative they can be reused and have a ‘second life’. Mask cases double up as a fantastic travel box (for passports, documents, jewellery etc) as they are sealed against water, dust etc and are sturdy. Mesh bags can be used for transporting equipment on boats as they can get wet, but dry quickly. Get creative and give your packaging a purpose!

Reusing vs Recycling … How To Combat The neoprene issue

Undoubtedly, one of the most transparent functions of neoprene is in wetsuits and other watersports clothing. Neoprene is a foamed synthetic rubber compound, created through a chemical reaction. The problem with neoprene is that it is so non-biodegradable that it has even been used to line landfill, due to its fire-resistant qualities. As divers, we are not intentionally harming our planet by buying neoprene products. It’s important to stay warm underwater and there aren’t a great deal of alternatives. So what can we do to lessen the problem or at least be aware and mindful?

If you have a wetsuit (or any neoprene product) that no longer serves its purpose, don’t throw it away! After some research, we found a company called Circular Flow who are looking to work alongside dive centres like Aquanauts to collect used wetsuits and take them to a brand new factory in Bulgaria to recycle them into products such as yoga mats. Even better, these products can then be recycled again between 5 and 7 times! Read more about this groundbreaking new initiative, and about Aquanauts Neoprene November here.

wetsuits hanging on a rail in front of a Cornwall beach scene

Choose Eco-Friendly Dive Products

For a product to be considered OceanPositive by Fourth Element’s standards, they must be at least  one of the following: made from at least 30% recycled materials, from a certified sustainable source, a tool to help reduce plastic pollution. Here are some fantastically innovative scuba products on sale NOW:

Fourth Element Rec Fins

These are the first scuba fins to be made from recycled consumer plastic waste (polypropylene and recycled thermoplastic rubber) which prevents plastic from ending up in a landfill or the ocean. Additionally, the fins come packaged in zero plastic, resulting in an efficient and eco-friendly purchase!

Fourth element rec fins on a white background

Scubapro Everflex Yulex Wetsuit

ScubaPro have lived up to their long-standing commitment to protecting the planet with their new wetsuit made of an eco-friendly foam called Yulex. Extracted from FSC certified rubber tree farms, these suits are not only durable and comfortable, but environmentally friendly inside and out. The polyester lining is made from 45 recycled plastic bottles, it uses solvent free glue, and the paper packaging that the suit arrives in is 100% recycled AND recyclable!

scubapro everflex yulex wetsuit

Apeks Ocea Regulator

This is the first totally sustainably produced regulator available and the most eco-sensitive regulator in the world. Apeks work with Plastic Bank, an enterprise which builds recycling ecosystems in under-developed communities in an effort to fight both plastic pollution in oceans and to ensure that each sale of the Ocea funds the collection of 5kg of plastic waste.

Apeks ocea regulator on a white background

If you would like to know more about our Neoprene November wetsuit collection, or better yet, would like to bring your wetsuit/neoprene products to recycle, give us a call on 01752 228825, pop into the shop or message us on social media! 

Lizzie Chapman
Lizzie Chapman

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