Celebrating Earth Month with: Fourth Element
In celebration of Earth Month, we’re enjoying the opportunity to let you in on a part of why Divers Direct chooses to partner with a few of our vendors. As ocean explorers and adventurers, we know first hand that healthy oceans and waterways lead to a healthy planet, so we take sustainability practices into consideration when selecting which vendors to work with. And when you’re working with a company like Fourth Element, there’s no explanation needed…but they’re a fun company to talk about, so let’s dive in.
From products to packaging, projects to corporate practices, Fourth Element fully embraces sustainability practices and invests in our planet.
What is OceanPositive?
Initially, Fourth Element produced their line of OceanPositive products made from ECONYL® yarn that’s created from ghost nets and other discarded waste. As with any conscientious company, as advancements are made, Fourth Element continues to improve their processes and materials to make sustainable dive gear that’s environmentally friendly.
Are Fourth Element wetsuits neoprene free?
It’s a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. Most neoprene is made from petrochemicals. Fourth Element uses limestone in their process instead which results in less environmental impact and you get the same performance.
What about the rubber component of the neoprene?
Deriving Eco Carbon Black from recycled tires, Fourth Element keeps energy consumption and CO2 emissions to a minimum in the production of their wetsuits. And any left over material is recycled and becomes part of the next batch.
Doesn’t adding color to garments consume a lot of water and energy?
Yes. Which is why Fourth Element uses a process wherein they infuse the dye pigments right into a molten plastic solution. Through this dope-dyed process, color is achieved with minimal water and energy consumption. Though not all products are able to be colored this way, Fourth Element uses this process where they can to reduce their environmental impact as much as possible.
What’s the story behind the Yulex Pure™ material?
Made in the USA, this FSC® Certified material is made from a natural rubber in a plant that takes environmental responsibility to the next level. From growing the plants used to produce this rubber with a natural irrigation system to using the waste material from the rubber extraction process as biomass fuel for generating electricity, this material is about as eco-friendly as it gets. Add in that the lining is created from recycled water bottles, a water-based glue is used for adhering the materials together, and the prints are either embossed or from water-based dyes and you’ve got a material that’s at the apex of environmentally conscious.
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Aren’t there lots of single use plastics out there that need to be addressed?
Yes. And that’s why Fourth Element recycles plastic water bottles for use in the production of their Hydroskin material. They also add color to this fabric using water-based inks to limit chemicals used in the production process. Reducing, recycling, and reusing are the hallmarks of this Fourth Element fabric.
OK, but Fourth Element still uses single-use plastics in their packaging, right?
For the items they haven’t figured out a better way to ship, like the OceanPositive swimwear, Hydroskins, and Hydro Leggings, they’re packaged in an alternative compostable bio-based plastic bag. These bags are engineered from cassava starch so they break down quickly (like within months) and aren’t harmful to marine life if they wind up getting ingested.
Additionally, Fourth Element went to recyclable paper bags for shipping their t-shirts while using recyclable card wraps and heavy duty sacks for their X-Core and Thermocline lines. Finally, Fourth Element opted to go with no packaging for their hoodies. What’s better than that?
Alright, but how is Fourth Element actively working to invest in our Planet?
Actually, Fourth Element is setting the standard. Not only do they make conscientious decisions about the environment when making and shipping products, they also partner with many organizations that focus on a healthy planet. From cleaning beaches to retrieving ghost nets, the team at Fourth Element works hard in and out of the office to invest in our planet. A few of the initiatives and projects they’re currently involved with include Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Reef-World Foundation, Olive Ridley Project, Coral Restoration Foundation, World Animal Protection, and Bite Back Shark & Marine Conservation.
From running their offices with solar power to getting out and retrieving ghost nets, Divers Direct chooses to partner with Fourth Element because they’re advancing eco-conscious business practices. We could go on and on bragging about all the things Fourth Element does to invest in our planet, and this is a big reason Divers Direct loves working with them and bringing their products to you.