September is Yoga Month sponsored by www.YogaMonth.org. Yoga Month is meant to bring awareness to yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.
I have completely wrapped my arms around Yoga Month and given it a BIG HUG. You see, I am a yoga teacher and forever a student of yoga. Yoga did inspire a healthier and happier life for me and, in turn, those I share my life with.
However, I was totally unaware that yoga mats are not recyclable and that very few yoga mats are made with recyclable materials. As a social advocate, this fact did not fit well with my lifestyle. That is, until I stumbled upon Stephanie Stano, Founder and Director of www.RecycleYourMat.com.
The mission of Recycle Your Mat is to solve environmental challenges in a socially responsible manner. Since the inception of the business it 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 individuals’ shipments of yoga mats.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Stephanie Stano, Founder and Director of Recycle Your Mat.
What made you decide to champion recycling yoga mats?
I received a mat as a gift, but already had a yoga mat I liked, so my used one went in the closet for a while. Shortly after receiving the yoga mat, I started noticing mats in my yoga class and adding things up in my head. If I took class 3 times a week and there was between 20-30 people in each class and only 8-10 were regulars and the rest I saw only 1 – 3 times, then where were all these new practitioners going, and what were they doing with their shiny new yoga mat they purchased?
Who is the biggest recycler of yoga mats? And what do they use the recycled material for?
I get this question a lot and it’s just not common enough yet in the manufacturing industry for people to give full disclosure of where they source their materials (i.e. you don’t see a bag that says nylon for webbing purchased from ABC company and cotton material for bag purchased from XYZ company). We are working on an exciting consumer product with a company that is forward thinking and are excited to announce our partnership with them in the coming months. It will be nice to be able to shout from the rooftops who we work with and are looking forward to promoting our work together!
Do you see a future where there is a cost-effective alternative to rubber mats?
This is a great question. I will say that most of the mats I receive are the low cost plastic mats. My hunch is that most people starting out their yoga practice buy the cheapest mat because they don’t know how long they will stick with yoga, but they want to give it a try. I do see a need for a low cost eco-friendly mat. Until then, I would like to see mats that can be recyclable using the recycling capabilities in place now. Currently mats cannot be remade into mats and they cannot be recycled in curbside plastic recycling programs. I hope someday all mats are recyclable using our current industrial recycling capabilities or biodegradable.
What is your biggest obstacle for “buy-in” into the recycling program?
Cost. Studios pay out of their own pockets to collect and send us used mats. Individuals also pay to send us their mats. For three years, I’ve been campaigning for the yoga industry to follow the electronics industry and other products and tack on a nominal recycling fee for the sale of each mat. Even a quarter fee a mat would help tremendously to expand our collection and open up more opportunities for upcycling. We’ve approached a number of yoga companies about this and it seems no one will be the first to budge, but I think once one yoga company commits, others will as well, if only to maintain their “green credibility”.
Thank you, Stephanie for taking the time to speak with me and for your dedication to making our world more sustainable “one mat at a time”. Please keep us posted on your big announcement!