In any case, more yoga means looking at my mat more often. Last Friday I noticed a tiny speck of green on my pants during practice.
No. No way! Not again! Yes- my "new" eco-rubber mat from LotusWear is flaking and wearing away after one year of use. As many of you know, I have had some terrible luck with yoga mats over the past few years, with my first two "eco" (TPE) Lulu mats flaking within months I thought my sticky, sturdy rubber mat would have avoided the whole issue. Although I have noticed the wear patterns, mostly where my hands "rest" during downward dog, I had been in
denial until an actual piece of green rubber migrated to live on my pants last Friday. So, I just need to accept that I will eventually have to buy yet ANOTHER mat. Not very eco of moi. Sigh.
Well, what is an eco-warrior to do? I can't just throw out my old mats. With the millions of yoga practitioners out there being
encouraged to buy many different types of mats that are engineered to fall apart within a few years, our landfills are being inundated with old, used PVC mats are releasing dioxin, hydrocholric acid and other toxins into the atmosphere. My mats are TPE (thermoplastic elastomers- which are still made with a type of plastic) and require intense heat and processing to break down (which they will break down into smaller versions of their synthetic selves... so not able to integrate with our Earth). In a landfill, buried in plastic bags and hidden from the sun and oxygen, they most certainly will not degrade at any appreciable rate and are not compatible with a regular compost bin or our municipal compost system. (Green: Lotus Wear flakes, Purple: Andrew's hand-me-down TPE lulu flaking mat. He especially likes the small purple decorations on his pants after every practice!)
What to do? Well my first step is to buy a better, longer lasting rubber mat that I won't have to replace for at least a decade.
Here are some fun ideas for what I could do with our old yoga mats:
1. Send to a yoga mat recycling program like "Recycle Your Mat". This company accepts ALL yoga mats of any shape or type. According to their site, in 2008 more than 50% of the mats collected were upcycled into other products; which is better than recycling, as that process degrades the plastic with each cycle. 30% of mats were donated to local community programs!
2. Jade has a 3R program was well. Students can drop off their used and unwanted mats to participating studios who, with Jade's help will find local resources to reuse or donate the mats (this I find a bit iffy- how would Jade yoga know what programs are in Halifax NS?). In any case, all beyond repair will be recycled into Jade's new "encore" mat which will be made of recycled rubber (ouuu!).
3. Make Yoga Mat Flip Flops! This awesome suggestion is thanks to Ms. Moniker, who left it in the Urban Garden comments! This option looks like fun, especially getting together a group of friends and trying it out all at once! I guess I wonder about how long the hot glue gun would last... but then I'm pretty rough on my summer flip flops (or thongs in Australia and BC!). Thank you very much Ms. Moniker for your fantastic tip! :)
(picture- wiki-how website)
4. Use your mat as: Kitchen drawer liners, garden kneeling guards, baseball bases, grips to open jars... (all from Jade Yoga's 25 ways to reuse your mat)
5. Use your mat as a beach or park "towel". This one I did do while living in BC with TPE mat #1. It was a fantastic option.
6. Donate to a local women's transition shelter, homeless shelter or family center. Just because you are "done" with your mat doesn't mean that it's life as a yoga mat has ended. I especially like this option, as I feel I'm spreading the gift of yoga. With my first ever mat (along with two Lulu tops that were in perfect condition but didn't "grow" with the rest of me after my move) was donated to a women's transition house in Vernon BC.
7. Donate your mats to a local school or up and coming Yogi/ni teacher who may be struggling to get started on her/his teaching career. While a friend of mine was trying to figure out how to finance some mats for her new career, I went to BreathingSpace studio and found out that they were just going to toss a half dozen mats! They were a little dingy, but with a good clean easily made do for those new students that didn't have a mat.
8. Use your mats as your "Guerrilla Yoga" (or outside yoga- the first just sounds so... rebel! lol) mats. Since all current "eco" mats available today are susceptible to damage by the sun, using them for outside practice is not the best idea. Keeping your old mats as your fun, exhilirating, guerrilla yoga mats, continuing their existence by sharing your outside yogic adventures, will assure that your new eco-mat lasts longer. (Andrew's solution to the zipper on his lulu hand me down yoga mat bag breaking... I really like the rustic stick+elastic look).
This last option is what Andrew and I have decided to do as we both love practicing yoga outside. Although recycling is a tempting "easy way out" process, I truly prefer finding local upcycle or reuses of yoga mats. This reduces on carbon emissions needed to mail your mat via post, by-passes the amount of energy needed to break down and reformulate the mats into another product and my favourite- extends the gift of yoga into another's life.