Heads up - we’re going to talk about some big issues in this short blog, because we want to touch on the reason behind our eco-friendly yoga mats. Let’s dive right in.
2020 was certainly a year of awareness. While Covid restrictions continue in many parts of the world, the initial shock that our ecosystem is so fragile really hit home last year, at the start of the pandemic. It taught us to look at the world in a new light, particularly as another possible catastrophe awaits us - an ecological breakdown.
Luckily, scientists still think we’re in the deciding decade. How we consume, and the products we buy, will make all the difference to what happens next. The move is to use naturally sourced products, which are reusable, to avoid adding to the growing pile of plastic trash.
But what exactly should you look out for when buying a yoga mat in 2021? What are the rules, if any? Here are some suggestions about ways to buy contentiously, when choosing a yoga mat;
1. Material - what are your mats made from?
Plastic mats are made from crude oil, which is the same stuff that’s adding to the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Worse still, plastic mats are usually coated in PVCs, short for polyvinyl chloride. PVCs are horrible for the environment, causing hormonal imbalances and cancers in humans, while leaching into rivers and oceans when left in landfills.
Why use PVC then? Well, this coating is what gives your mat that shimmery look, and keeps it sticky. It’s also why plastic mats will begin to clog up with sweat overtime, because, while some sweat slides off the mat, more collects into the pores, meaning your plastic mat will begin to stink and lose its grip. Ew!
When shopping for a mat, look for one that’s made from natural materials, such as cork or hemp. These are hand washable (so no sweat), but they’re also biodegradable. Which means they won’t stick around for hundreds of years doing damage to the Earth!
2. Sourcing - how are the materials for your mat gathered?
Having natural materials is one step, but making sure to support the biosystem they’re grown in is the other big step. When looking for a mat, think about how the material is gathered. Ideally, you want to be supporting a company that cultivates a forest or field they can add to and take from sustainably. Do they have a system in place for replanting what they take?
Cork is a truly terrific material - it’s made from the bark of quercus sumber or cork oak. These oaks can be stripped of their bark without harming the tree itself - rather like a snake shedding it’s skin! Which makes harvesting it all the better, because it comes guilt free.
Another thing to consider is the welfare of the harvesters. Is the community fairly paid and treated? Have a look on the company’s website to see if this is something they do - usually it’ll be something they want to shout about! A good community with well-treated workers helps sustainability, because it means the community itself is sustainable.
3. Travel - what sort of distance does your mat make?
Carbon footprints are made up of our overall activity, including production and travel of the things we consume. Unfortunately, being in a smaller country like New Zealand, we end up racking up a lot of carbon getting in the things we love.
But there are ways around this. An ethically sourced, natural yoga mat is still biodegradable and good for the environment. To offset any carbon you might make in getting such a groovy product you should look at what sorts of programs the company you’re buying from offers. Do they plant trees, for example, to absorb carbon? Do they invest in ocean-based initiatives, such as seaweed or phytoplankton, carbon ‘air’ scrubbing or the introduction of carbon into farming soils? However they choose to rid the air of CO2, your yoga mat company should be doing something to help keep their footprint small between their factory and your doorstep.
So who is doing this?
Well, we are. Eartha is a sustainability community which sells products online, specialising in - you guessed it - yoga mats! Our mats are made from natural rubber and cork, both very easy to wash and easy to replant and look after. We follow initiatives to keep our carbon down, by planting trees and joining with other eco-friendly programs. We’re also constantly on the lookout to join good causes, helping spread the word against single-use plastics in New Zealand.
You can read more about us on our site, and browse through our range of yoga mats here. Rest assured that whatever you choose is good for the planet and for your yoga practice!