Nowadays, quite a lot of companies claim to be sustainable. We recently, for example, have seen one of the biggest fast fashion companies advertising to sell sustainable products. So sadly, we can’t just trust companies anymore but we need to understand what it means to produce sustainable products. That’s why we want to explain to you how our sustainable production of a yoga mat works. The criteria we use can be easily applied to other companies, so next time you are not sure whether a company is sustainable, use our criteria and try to analyse the company.
5 criteria we use for our sustainable production of a yoga mat
In this blog article, we want to share with you how a hejhej-mat is produced. For us, transparency is a really important pillar of sustainability and should be integrated into a sustainable company.
No. 1 Transparency
To understand how a production does take place and to analyse if it’s sustainable, a company needs to reveal transparency. We openly communicate that our production only takes place in Germany, how we produce and with whom we are cooperating. This blog article, for instance, is one more example where we openly want to tell you more about our company and the sustainable production of our yoga mat.
So our first tip is really easy and it’s just about whether a company is transparent or not, whether it reveals information or not. So for you, it means to check whether you can find some information about the production. Does a company reveal information about the production at all? If not at all, we would not consider the company as sustainable. The location itself is a good start, however, it would be great if you can find some further information. It could be worth to check for example if a company has a corporate blog on the website – often you can find details about the production there.
No. 2 Materials used for the products
Our next point we want to share with you is the materials we use during production. So this basically means, that the product itself needs to be sustainable. We, for example, use off-cuts naturally occurring in the foaming industries for the heart of our hejhej-mats. We also openly and transparently communicate that the super-thin surface of our hejhej-mats is not out of recycled materials yet. The surface is important to make our yoga mats long-lasting, water repellant, slip-resistant, etc. Here it was really important for us to guarantee medical standards which is why we decided to go for a new material in this case.
Yet, it was our goal to still achieve to recycle our yoga mats at the end of its lifespan 100%. The process of development of a product should never stop and it should always be the goal to make the materials even more sustainable. We, for instance, are always continuing to research to achieve our surface out of recycled materials.
So check the materials a company is using, if a company openly communicates that one little detail is not 100% sustainable yet, it doesn’t mean that the company is not sustainable. It mostly rather means that the company is really sustainable since it transparently communicates the goals for the future – of course, the largest percentage of the materials should be sustainable already, we speak of really small details.
No. 3 A local production: our sustainable production of a yoga mat takes place in Germany
We decided to only produce our yoga mats here in Germany. We even tried to locate all the different parts of our production around our home base Nuremberg – always in mind to keep the transportation ways as little as possible and to save C02 emissions. A production, for example in Asia, is not bad per se – labour standards can nowaday be good there and quite often there is great know-how in special ways of production. However, you can definitely say that a product made in Asia has a way larger carbon footprint compared with a product made in Germany.
Another benefit from a local production is the fact that you can easily visit the production. In our case, this means that we are part of every single production. We work with the workers there and always have a look at the quality. In this way, we can react if something happens. This is good for the quality but also good to achieve as little products with mistakes.
For some companies, it can happen that for a whole batch something went wrong so it’s not possible to sell the whole batch anymore. Nowadays, there are great possibilities to reuse these products – for example, the wonderful start-up Mit Ecken und Kanten. With the help of this start-up, the products don’t have to be thrown away. However, it should always be the goal to produce as little B-stock as possible. So for us, a local production is a criterion indicating a sustainable production.
No. 4 Focusing on zero-waste production
Another criterion that makes a sustainable company is the focus on zero-waste production. If people hear the term zero-waste, they always associate it with 100% zero-waste and no waste at all. But that’s not what it’s all about. Not with a zero-waste lifestyle and neither with a zero-waste production. 100% zero-waste is not possible and not realistic. However, there should be an aim to produce as less waste as possible. We have this aim and we always try to produce as less waste as possible! The rest that still occurs gets recycled. Since our yoga mats are 100% recyclable we can collect this waste and once we collected an appropriate amount, we can recycle the waste and use it for our next production of yoga mats.
Additionally, we are in close contact with our suppliers. It is really important to not only look at your own company but also at other stakeholders your company cooperates with. We try to make them use as less packaging as possible and we try to reuse what’s possible. One example from our last production showed us that suppliers can be open to new suggestions: one material always gets delivered on paper coils and normally they are single-use. We now suggested collecting these coils, sending them back to them so that they can use them for our next order. It worked out and proved that you just have to try to convince others and that it will eventually work out. So now we are motivated to continue improving the sustainable approach of our suppliers.
We have to say that this probably is the hardest criterion to receive information from other companies, yet we wanted to share it with you and we think that if you find some information about a zero-waste production strategy – it speaks for the company.
No. 5 Social cooperations are an important part of our sustainable production of a yoga mat
Our last tip for you is to look at social cooperations. It becomes more and more popular to donate a certain amount of money per sold product. We like this approach and we indeed also use it. For each yoga mat, we are donating 1€ to the NGO Earth Child Project and for each sold yoga bag, we are planting a tree. However, we think that it is really important that this is not the only social action a company takes. We use it as an add-on. Our main cooperation is with a workplace for people with a handicap. They sew the logos on top of our yoga mats and they store and ship our yoga mats. Our hejhej-bags are 100% sewed by hand in such a social workplace. We think that such cooperations are amazing since you add social value to our society.
It totally also is challenging and might take longer to work out – however, it is worth it. Yet, we have heard of companies that simply focus on the economical dimension. They started at social workplaces and eventually just moved to regular companies since for them it took too long and was too complicated. So we think that a real and close social cooperation is a good criterion you can use when analysing a company. It shows that the company is willing to put the focus on the sustainable and social dimension and not only works in line with the economical dimensions. Don’t let yourself be convinced by a small donation – it is great – but it’s just a nice add-on, not a criterion to analyse!
Read here about our social cooperation during our sustainable production of a yoga mat. There you can find some wonderful pictures about how the cooperation looks like. We hope we could give you more insights into our way of production. We would be happy if our criteria help you in your future process of classifying sustainable businesses.