Some 18 million people are now practicing yoga in the U.S. and that means that there are a whole bunch of used yoga mats out there. Just as runners need to replace their running shoes every now and then, so do yogis need to replace their mats. So, what happens to all these unwanted mats?
While taking a yoga class at a Eugene YMCA, Recycle Your Mat founder Stephanie Stano noticed a lot of people coming in, taking one or two classes and not coming back. She wondered where their unused mats went. Later when she decided to buy a new mat, she couldn’t find a place to recycle the old one. “I realized there was a wonderful opportunity.”
Stano invested $20,000 in savings to prevent yoga mats from ever going into a landfill again. “It seems that we’ve tapped into a need many people have with regard to environmentally friendly yoga mat disposal,” says Stano “We’re very happy to give something back to the practice of yoga that has given us so much.”
Recycle Your Mat collects mats from individuals and yoga studios. Individuals can recycle their mats by dropping them off at a participating Recycle Your Mat locations (such as us, here at OmBase!) or by mailing their mat directly to Recycle Your Mat. Studios can send mats directly to Recycle Your Mat.
What’s in a yoga mat: Various plastics – PVCS, TPE, EVA – and natural rubber. No matter what your yoga mat is made from, it can be made into something else. Even the newer sustainable mats can be used in another product life cycle before they decompose. Whether yours is plastic, jute, PVC, natural rubber, latex or whatever – Recycle Your Mat recycles them all!
What happens to the mats sent to Recycle Your Mat?: A manufacturer in New Hampshire turns them into “yoga bolsters,” pillows made for yoga. Stano’s got other manufacturers lined up to take mats as her volume increases. In 2008, more than 50% of mats collected were upcycled into other products, including yoga products! With help from studios, more than 30% of mats collected were donated to local community programs. The remaining mats are slated for upcycling in 2009. Recycle Your Mat is also working with companies that support “conscious consumers” or “LOHAS – Lifestyles of Health And Sustainability” values. They are companies and manufacturers that focus on serving the environment and community, and produce products they are proud to support.
Recycle Your Mat is tackling 2009 with a goal to collect 1 million mats. Click here to find out how you can be one of the 18 million yoga practitioners that are changing the world one sticky mat at a time.
In the meantime, here are some tips . . .
CLEANING: Initially, consider cleaning your mat using the methods below from Yoga Journal (you may find you get a few more months out of a clean yoga mat). After your mat is worn and ready to be replaced, as your first step in yoga mat recycling, give it the same clean up before sending it off to be recycled. Like other materials you recycle, clean is best.
“If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.
If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.”
If you want to keep your yoga mat around and get some alternative uses out of it, consider some crafty re-purposing.
There are a lot of things that you can do with your old yoga mat, including:
• cutting it up and using it to keep pet dishes from sliding
• putting it in the bottom of your vehicle trunk to keep things from sliding
• rolling it up loosely and tying it for a garden kneeler
• placing it under an area rug to keep it from sliding
• make flip flops
Recycle Your Mat: The backstory
Yoga practitioner and Recycle Your Mat founder Stephanie Stano has been passionate about nature and social issues since her youth. Always active in the outdoors, no matter the weather or location, Stephanie knew at a young age that nature nurtures the potential inside us all.
During her career she’s focused on working for non-profit organizations, outdoor lifestyle companies and volunteering her time to social causes. It’s this passion for the outdoors and personal development that are the foundation of Recycle Your Mat.
Since Recycle Your Mat‘s beginning in early 2008, the business has been centered around two main objectives – recycle and upcycle mats as new products and reuse mats through donation. These objectives are met through yoga mat collection at yoga studios, fitness centers and through individual’s shipments of yoga mats.
Recycle Your Mat believes yoga is sacred, and yogis can honor our practice by collectively furthering our responsibility to the planet. Just like yoga restores our body, soul and mind, the materials that support our practice can save mountains, streams and other biodynamic places.
Recycle Your Mat adheres to the triple bottom line by striving for planetary, community and financial health. The people of Recycle Your Mat, as individuals and together as an organization, seek to solve environmental challenges in a socially responsible manner.
Recycle Your Mat
4777 Larkwood Street
Eugene, OR 97405
(541) 556 – 9191
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