Yoga accessories... do we need them, should we simply let them go, are they essential to practice... In a Lulu Yoga World, my first Punk Rockah Yogini reaction is to reject these trappings. Annnnd, then I tried to practice in pajamas, jeans, on the floor without a mat. In five seconds I go from Punk Rock Yogini to Prep-Yogini (eco-prep of course) who covets green clothing, mats and bamboo blocks. Sigh.
Cue Yoga Mat Bags. Most yogis know that bringing your mat to class can vary with complexity and hassles. Depending on what you want to bring, it can involve showing up with your bag to bringing a change of clothing, keys, face cloth, towel and water.... perhaps if you shower afterwards (I'm thinking Bikram or Hot Yoga) extra things like shampoo and soap may need to be added.
For myself, I always bring at least a headband, hair tie, my purse, house keys and bottled water. In the winter I bring a hat, mittens and scarf. I prefer to have a yoga mat bag and since I like pretty things, my current bag is well, a little bit shiny and colourful and is a lulu bag sadly. Andrew was using my very first yoga bag, until the zipper broke and he's been using a rubber band, stick and some flare keeping it together.
I have been trying to find an eco-friendly version that is equally functional and beautiful as those sold at Lululemon without any luck... until now.
A few weeks ago Avi, owner and founder of Yogoco Yoga mat bags contacted me regarding reviewing the Yogoco Mat Bag. I had seen these bags before and drooled excessively, what a beautiful bag. Prior to reviewing the bag I had a few extra questions concerning the construction which Avi answered readily and in detail. She was fabulous in addressing my concerns and clarifying the process.
A Yogoco bag combines eco-ness and uber functionality to create a beautiful, sturdy and "green" bag. The company takes pre-consumer t-shirt fibers collected from the cut and sew process of a local fabric house. The fibers are sorted by colour and blended to create new fibers for the bags. The result are fluffy fibers that they can use as stuffing and padding or spun into new yarns, retaining the colour of the t-shirt fibers.
This assures that Yogoco isn't contributing to the cotton industry which as of 2002 was 73% genetically modified and uses one of the highest amounts of pesticides and chemicals to produce along with monocultures that are extremely destructive to soil. Further, they aren't dying their yarn which would potentially contribute to chemical run-off in the factory and saves huge amounts of water.
When I asked about using scraps from organic cotton fabric, Avi reported that essentially 10% of the material used does come from organic cotton. However, she pointed out that organic cotton is still a growing industry and difficult to attain.
Yogoco bags are also made in the USA, which is fantastic as it facilitates monitoring of clean and environmentally safe working conditions and drastically decreases the carbon footprint compared to sourcing work to eastern countries.
I received the bag last night and it is BEAUTIFUL. My yoga mat fits with a TON of room in the large mat compartment, so if I ever do require a mat replacement and choose a larger mat there will be no problem. I could probably roll up both Andrew and my mats and have them fit in that bag. Awesome. (inspecting the ONE tag with twine!)
The extra compartment for towel, water bottle etc is also great. It has a handy extra pocket on the inside for keys and hair ties and it's large enough that my cloth mat will actually fit! This bag is going to be perfect for our summer Yoga in the Park where last summer I was carrying about ten different things as both my cloth and rubber mats didn't fit in my regular bag.
I was a little worried about how the bag would arrive with packaging and Avi did not disappoint! The bag arrived with minimal taping in a cardboard box (which will be re-used as a gift box this xmas). Inside were minimal tissue (made from recycled paper) and the bag which was stuffed with recycled butcher-type paper. All of the recycled paper will be used either as gift wrap or tissue this xmas by myself a few friends. Even the *one* tag attached to the bag was minimal and tied with rustic looking twine. No plastic at all. WOOT!
According to Avi and the Yogoco site, they use soy and vegetable-based ink and recycled paper on all tags, brochures, business cards and postcards.
Two glitches: 1) the nylon lining on the inside of the bag. Avi explained that (especially for Hot Yoga) having a wipeable lining that was easy to clean and would slip the mat and clothing in the bag was essential. She also indicated that the lining consists of 5% of the weight of the bag and that they are searching for a US made, sustainable alternative.
2) The price. Although I believe that the price reflects what needs to be paid when we aren't supporting slave-labour wages and poor working conditions along with innovative design and beautiful fabric, the reality is that the bags are not cheap. However, I always feel that investing in local, sustainable companies who make quality, durable products are worth the extra money and saving-time. So this "glitch" probably would just result in a little extra thought on saving up. My goal is to invest once in something I feel great about and never have to buy another bag.
This bag is the epitome of green and I heart it very much! It would make a fantastic gift for a Yogi/ni, ecoholic or not. Seriously, I did a happy dance at the post office and in the apartment. (the bag with the cloth AND rubber mat inside!)
Many Blessings and soon to come- Slow Christmas and what that means :)
Article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com