On April 22, 1970, the modern environmental movement was born. The very first Earth Day, conceived by then-Senator Gaylord Nelson, drew 20 million activists from all over the U.S. who took to streets, parks and university campuses to protest environmental degradation and advocate for environmental stewardship. Forty-eight years later millions of people in 192 countries all around the world celebrate Earth Day.
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “End Plastic Pollution.” Plastic is everywhere—in toys, packaging and tools we use every day. Petroleum-based plastic waste clogs our landfills and streams, threatens marine life and disrupts human hormones. Because it takes centuries to biodegrade, the plastics we’ve already used and discarded will be on this earth long after we’re gone.
At Hugger Mugger, we began exploring alternatives to plastics in our sustainable yoga props in the early 2000s. While we already made lots of products that don’t include any sort of plastics—including yoga bolsters and meditation cushions, wood blocks, and cotton and hemp straps—we’ve made it a priority to explore and develop sustainable materials for our other products too.
Here’s a List of Some of the Sustainable Materials We Use
Rubber: Native to South America, rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) are tapped for their latex, the source material for all natural rubber products. While more than half the rubber used in manufacturing today is synthetic, from petroleum sources, we use only natural, tree-sourced, Malaysian rubber in our mats. Rubber is a long-lasting material—rubber tires generally last 50,000 miles or more. So you can plan on a Para Rubber Yoga Mat supporting you through many, many Downward Facing Dogs.
Our rubber-based yoga mats include:
Cork: Harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree, cork is solid, impermeable, stable and recyclable. Cork trees continue to grow even after their bark has been harvested. Cork trees can live up to 200 years. The cork oak grows only in seven Mediterranean countries—Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Over 300,000 tons are harvested (stripped) each year and more than 100,000 people are employed in cork harvesting.
Our cork-based products include:
TPE: Earth Elements yoga mats are made from a recently developed and patented foam called TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer). TPE contains no PVC and uses no toxic materials in its production. TPE also has no rubber, meaning it’s perfectly safe for those with latex sensitivities. TPE has a closed-cell structure, so liquids cannot penetrate it, making mold and mildew a non-issue. TPE requires less energy to produce than other mat materials and is fully biodegradable. Because they are biodegradable, these mats will eventually break down, but with proper care you can enjoy your Earth Elements Mat for many years. Because it’s designed to biodegrade, TPE will break down if you leave it exposed to the hot sun—for example, in your car for long periods of time. Storing it in a mat bag eliminates this problem.
Our TPE-based mats include:
Jute: Nicknamed the “Golden Fibre,” Jute is a natural fiber plant grown primarily in India, Bangladesh and China. Highly versatile, jute combines breathability with high tensile strength. Jute is second only to cotton as the world’s most popular fiber for clothing, furniture coverings and other fabric uses. Jute has natural insulating, antistatic and antimicrobial properties and is completely biodegradable. And as a natural rain-fed crop, jute needs little to no fertilizers.
These two products contain jute fiber:
Bamboo: Technically a grass, bamboo is considered to be the fastest growing plant on earth. Some species of bamboo have been recorded as growing four feet in 24 hours. A bamboo pole, once cut, can regenerate its mass in six months. In addition, bamboo is exceptionally strong, is water resistant and has natural antibacterial properties.
Our Bamboo Yoga Blocks are constructed with a hollow core, making them both sturdy and lightweight.
Here’s a page that lists some of our favorite sustainable yoga props.