Going full circle - Our circular business model
We upcycle wetsuits and give them a new lease of life. We spotted a problem and a gap in the system which meant wetsuits were getting dumped when they were retired. You see, they are a composite material - meaning they can't easily be recycled - so unfortunately surf schools and water enthusiasts had no other option here in Ireland but to landfill them.
In an industry so connected to the environment - the last thing they want to do is harm it. But we know the adventure doesn't need to come to an end there for this material - just because its original purpose has.
And, while wetsuits are incredibly well designed and durable for their purpose and their need – they are not environmental in their manufacture or disposal. So we feel the best thing to do is to keep the ones that are already in existence in use - in a rotation and circular system - which gives them new purpose and keeps them from harming the environment any further. So that is what we are doing.
We've partnered with different surf schools and water sports centres (see here) and we give them an alternative option - that is for them to be upcycled by us. Because these materials - just like so many others - simply do not need to end up in landfill.
Recently we partnered with the well known outdoor and work wear brand Portwest who have 3 stores in Ireland in Galway, Westport and Killarney. They are kindly acting as one of our collection points for old wetsuits which are suitable for upcycling, and in return - they offer 10% off a new wetsuit to the customer. They send us the old wetsuits to upcycle and we transform them into new products which we then sell back in their store as part of our Neo Collection - in a nice circular loop.
We then donate 10% of our profits to Seal Rescue Ireland - who do incredible work rescuing and rehabilitating seal pups from around the coast of Ireland. And not only that - but they also work tirelessly to raise awareness of marine pollution.
We care about the littlest of details - because little details matter. And even our ties which we use to attach our recycled labels to our products have been considered. For these we use fishing line which we found, rescued from the beach and untangled. By removing it from the beach and reusing it we aim to bring a reminder to the issue of discarded fishing gear that ends up harming so much marine life - just like so many of our seal pals who unfortunately end up at the centre for that very reason. These injuries are all too common and all so unnecessary.
As consumers, we often feel out of control of the system because we aren't given a choice or option for what to do with our purchases after we are done with them. Recycling isn't always an option because it hasn't been considered in the design stage in the first place so then ultimately it feels like our responsibility and burden post consumer. Most people want to be able to participate in reducing waste and recycling so it's pretty infuriating when the option isn't there or hasn't been considered. So, in building our business model, we are aiming to create that option with what we do.
We offer repair and return. In order to extend the life of our products - we offer a repair service - where possible - for our products that have broken or worn over time. We do our best to mend it to how it was - but sadly not all things are repairable. Once we receive the item we assess it and if it is the case that it is un-repairable, then we offer a discount on a new purchase from one of The Upcycle Movement products (from the online store) We'll take back the old item and use the material again to turn into something new - keeping it in the cycle.
We are continually working on innovative solutions for even the smallest pieces of wetsuit - with the aim of reusing the same material again and again to keep the cycle going - keeping it out of landfill.
Our diagram below illustrates the cycle.
A massive massive thank you to everyone involved in our circular model and network. Without you it wouldn't work. See a list of our partners here.
Read our thoughts on why shifting to a Circular Economy makes sense here
This blog was written as part of our Circular Post - keeping you posted on environmental initiatives and designs that are helping to make the world go round.