When we started to work on hejhej-mats we were motivated to produce a 100% sustainable yoga mat that is affordable for everyone. Along the development, we had to make many decisions regarding the sustainability standards of our product. We almost always made the decisions in favor of sustainability although we noticed that these were by far not the cheapest decisions. However, we never questioned or regretted any. We know that if we do not pay the price someone else somewhere else along the supply chain will pay for it. It is either a fragile ecosystem of our planet or the exploitation of cheap workers. We, therefore, did not even think about producing a cheap yoga mat.
How does a cheap yoga mat align with the spiritual ethos of yoga?
So if you decide to buy a really cheap yoga mat you don’t really pay the price for it but somewhere someone else pays the true cost. We think this doesn’t really go along with the spiritual ethos of yoga “to do good”. For the development of our recycled yoga mat we had to do a lot of research. Thereby, we came across existing yoga mat production methods.
When talking about cheap yoga mats we refer to those made of a 100% plastic and those that still contain PCV and harmful softeners. During the fabrication of PVC mats the plants contaminate water around their facilities, causing damage on whole communities. PVC plants pump an excruciating amount of vinyl chloride into the atmosphere. All this so that your yoga mat can later go sit in a landfill because it will not get recycled nor will it ever biodegrade.
A cheap yoga mat and other products foster a throwaway culture
No one really cares about a responsible way of recycling these cheap PVC yoga mats because they did not really cost something in the first place. Those dumping prices do not only trigger us to consume more things we do not really need. They also foster a throwaway culture which trashes our own planet.
So the cheap yoga mats line up with the other plastic waste that does not get properly recycled but burned. While burning those plastics a lot of harmful toxins arise. There are solutions to filter those and prevent them from going into our environment. These cost energy and money, so wouldn’t it be wiser to not produce this kind of trash in the first place if it is not really necessary?
Probably most of us agree here and say yes. There are already some more eco-friendly yoga mats out there. Most of them made out of natural rubber. These mats already come to a higher price for the end-consumer. Unfortunately, others still have to pay for them as well. A lot of natural rubber gets harvested in Southeast Asia. Valuable forests have to move for natural rubber plantations. Additionally, pesticides are used to keep the natural rubber trees steadily growing. These actions are mostly undertaken without taking the ecosystem around into consideration which leads to a loss of valuable biodiversity. It is also questionable how sustainable a resource can be that gets only harvested in certain locations but then the products made from it are available worldwide.
We have the power to decide who pays the true price
This is just some food for thought. Applicable not only to yoga mats but very sadly, to many many products. With our consumption behaviour we decide if we are responsible enough to pay the whole lifecycle price of a product or if we let someone right now or our future generation pay the price for us.
The crucial thing about this decision is that we are the only ones in this equation who really have a choice.
We gathered all this information while developing and researching, reading and talking to different experts and companies. We state all the information here to the best of our knowledge. If you find anything you would like to add or discuss please feel free to reach out to us.