224: Liz Bui and Jeff Martin/Yulex

If you’ve been following Looking Sideways for a while, you’ll know that I’ve covered the conversation around chloroprene rubber and Yulex extensively over the last year or so – through my conversation with Big Sea documentary film-makers Chris Nelson and Lewis Arnold, for example, as well as blogs such as this and this.

If you aren’t yet aware of the connection between neoprene and higher rates of cancer among one hugely impacted Louisiana community, find out more by clicking those links.

It’s through those conversations that I first made contact with Liz Bui, CEO of Yulex, the natural rubber alternative to neoprene and so-called limestone neoprene, which is touted by Yulex and partner brands such as Patagonia and Finisterre as a natural alternative to these materials and is, according to Yulex ‘proven equal or better when compared to neoprene in all applications’.

Friend-of-the-show Sandy Kerr putting his Yulex suit through its paces. Photo: David Beckitt

So when my pals at Finisterre invited me to host a live q&a with Liz and Yulex founder Jeff Martin at their London store in February 2024, I was in. Particularly because, whenever this conversation comes up among surfers, you always hear the same (to put it politely) received wisdom about Yulex. It’s too expensive. It’s not flexible enough. It’s just as bad for the environment as neoprene. (And that’s just some from some of the surf industry’s trade bodies).

Here was an opportunity to put these very questions to Liz and Jeff in person, as well as find out more about the basics of the Yulex process, while also exploring some of this issue’s more contentious talking points.

So that’s what I did, and the result was a fascinating, insightful and revealing conversation with two people who understand this topic, with all its nuances, intimately. Huge thanks to my Finisterre family for getting me involved, and to Liz and Jeff for answering everything with such clarity and transparency.

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