Reduce, reuse, recycle, restore & replenish
“Who doesn’t love yoga?” It’s how my yoga class started at 6am sharp in Mexico, and whilst the people around me all seemed to smile in joy through the 4th sun salutation, my body felt achy, inflexible and rather broken from all it had endured for the 10 months after my first child arrived in this world. So at that very moment, my mind thought “NOT ME!”.
Yoga isn’t for everyone (despite what the sign on that Pinterest board may say) and for the longest time, the very same thought of trying to quiet my mind down seemed like my perfect definition of hell on Earth - but nevertheless I surrendered after I was gifted not one, but two yoga mats and followed the advice of my guru, Noel, to “just give it a go”.
I’ve practiced, I’ve meditated, I could even yoga without a teacher. Months went by of 5am wake ups to yogã, to chant and to journal, but as my life changed after becoming a mum, my rather now “ragged” yoga mat was left to the side, and even though the wake up time didn’t change (or it rather did, to 11pm, 3 & 5 am) I was no longer waking up for yoga.
Being the environmentalist I am, I couldn’t help but think about what should I be doing with my mat as it got marks of wear and tear clearly visible even when it was rolled by the side of my bed.
And so, If your mat isn’t looking as pristine as it once was, and you too, are wondering what you should be doing with it through shavasana and whether you need a new one, keep reading. Because here is how you Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Restore and Replenish yoga mats.
Reduce & Reuse
Reducing our consumption is about choosing right when buying a product, taking into consideration it’s durability, material, quality and also it’s functionality, so you can reuse that product as much as you possibly can.
In the case of yoga mats, the materials that compose it are the key to its longevity, so here is how to choose yours:
PVC: is a plastic-based material that is highly durable, easy to clean and offers excellent floor grip. However, PVC mats are non-absorbent and can become slippery when you sweat heavily. PVC is latex-free, a benefit to those with latex allergies, however, it is not biodegradable or as environmentally friendly as other options.
TPE: (thermoplastic elastomer) is a man-made blend, usually of plastic and rubber polymers. TPE mats may be more environmentally friendly than PVC, and some are fully recyclable. TPE mats are generally less durable than PVC mats of the same thickness, but still deliver good traction.
Eco / natural mats come from a variety of sources, including natural rubber, organic cotton, cork and jute. Compared to other options, eco mats are slightly less grippy on the floor, but their natural texture provides traction for your body. Eco mats lack the decade-long durability of PVC, yet they top the list if sustainability is your priority.
Ever given some thought as to how you can recycle your yoga mat? The options are many - with some brands even taking your old one back to produce new products, but if you haven’t purchased from one of these companies in the first place, perhaps you’d consider some of the options below:
- donate it to an animal shelter
- donate it to a charity (if still in using condition)
- Upcycle it as wind protectors if you live somewhere that snows
- Save it for next time you camp and put under the tent to isolate it from wet ground
- Upcycle into non slip shower mats
- Consider getting in touch with a community that Up cycles rubber, like Ocean Sole, who create sculptures out of flip flops found in the ocean
- Cut into mouse pads, knee pads or use as safe children/puppies and kittens play area
- Cut it into a project pin board
- Place it under your plants to avoid flooring scratches and water damage
- Footpads for furniture
The list is endless! Let creativity flow and think twice before throwing it away, especially if your mat is made from PVC (the hardest type of plastic to recycle) - although some recycling centres accept PVC, they may not accept yoga mats, so give them a call ahead to avoid disappointment.
Now, how do you restore and replenish?
Here, it is all about the environment, the footprint the mat had and how we replenish the sources used to create it.
You know that I’ve create gngr bees with these values in mind, so it’s no surprise that whenever you buy anything from us, part of our profits are sent back to reinvest in sustainable projects and communities doing good things for our planet all around the world.
But what to do for yoga mats?
If you haven’t yet, look at supporting organisations like the rainforest alliance, which works in partnership with companies, farmers, governments and communities to protect forests and biodiversity (including cork trees!).
You can also send a message via Instagram to your favourite yoga brands asking if they have a recycle/ up cycle program and if they are taking care of their environmental footprint. Remember, climate activism comes in all forms - including asking the brands you love to take action too!
Have another idea or want to ask anything? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!