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How One Man is Recycling Wetsuits to Create New Wallets

Reborn Rubber creates wallets out of wetsuits
By Andy Zunz | Updated On August 6, 2019
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How One Man is Recycling Wetsuits to Create New Wallets

reborn rubber wallet in the sand

Reborn wetsuit wallet

Courtesy Reborn Rubber

James Sheppard was just about to toss an old wetsuit into his garbage bin when a wave of guilt struck him.

“I remember popping the lid, wetsuit in hand, staring into the trash and thinking, I shouldn’t be throwing this away. I can make something with this,” he says.

That’s when he got the inspiration to start Reborn Rubber, a company that makes tough, minimalist wallets from recycled wetsuits, discarded neoprene and recycled plastic bottles. The wallets can hold eight to 10 cards, are waterproof and can float. “Neoprene is non-biodegradable, but it’s a versatile material,” Sheppard says. “You can stretch it, bend it, and it feels good in your hands. It’s dangerous and beautiful at the same time.”

Reborn Rubber is in its early stages, but Sheppard made a point to include conservation initiatives in his business model from the start. He says 10 percent of each sale will be donated to the Coral Restoration Foundation; divers can donate their old wetsuits and receive a Reborn Rubber wallet for free. Each wetsuit is washed to remove dirt and other contaminants before being used as material.

reborn rubber wallet

Reborn Rubber use wetsuits that are no longer sea worthy and polyester spun from recycled plastic bottles to create wallets.

Courtesy Reborn Rubber

The wallets have a sleek look that seems right at home on a dive boat, come in seven colors, and are as slim as a smartphone, so they don’t take up too much space.

Sheppard’s mission is clear: allow divers to avoid the same guilt he felt by taking a negative and turning it into a positive, and picking up a cool accessory along the way. Check out the Reborn Rubber line and see how to donate your old neoprene at