Zero waste yoga: where to start?

With the amount of waste being sent to landfill from our homes every single day, it’s essential that we all take time to think about how we could limit it and get started on a journey towards a low waste or zero waste lifestyle.

For yogis, this also means learning more about zero waste yoga and asking ourselves questions such as:

  • What happens to my yoga mat once it’s discarded?

  • What is the environmental impact of my yoga clothes?

If you’re wondering about how you could make your yoga practice more zero waste, worry not – we’ve got just the beginner-friendly guide for you!

The impact of your yoga mat

What happens to my yoga mat once I no longer need it? Most conventional yoga mats are made from PVC – a plastic which may be durable during your practice, but also never biodegrades. It can’t be recycled and so it ends up polluting landfills for thousands of years to come, while releasing toxic chemicals and microscopic plastic particles.

Needless to say, this scenario is far from zero waste. It is, therefore, very important to find a more sustainable alternative if you’re starting out on your zero waste yoga journey. We’ve shared some of our recommendations for sustainable yoga mats on our blog before. Essentially, you’ll want to look for a mat that’s made from a compostable material (such as cork, natural rubber or cotton) or one made from recycled materials on a closed loop, with no material going to waste. At Breathe and Live Yoga School we opted for HejHej_mats which are the first closed loop yoga mats, because don’t want our yoga mats to be yet another waste generate by humans.

However, it’s important to keep one more thing in mind – the most sustainable yoga mat is one that you already own. It would not be very zero waste to throw it away before it can no longer be used just to replace it with a more eco-friendly alternative. Make use of what you have first, before buying a sustainable alternative or buy a new-old yoga mat which would be second hand.

A zero waste cleaner for your mat

To keep your zero waste yoga mat in good shape and extend its lifespan without creating any waste, you can make your own DIY mat cleaner. Simply add up 1 cup of water, 1/3 cup of white vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree oil and pour the mixture in any old spray bottle you may have at home.

After your practice, spray your mat with this mixture to keep it fresh and leave it to air dry!

Zero waste yoga clothing

Similarly to your yoga mat, much of the clothing you wear for practice will likely be made from plastic – mainly polyester. This is a synthetic fibre which not only never truly biodegrades, but also releases plastic particles into the water cycle whenever it is washed.

Thankfully, the number of alternatives is increasing. One of the simplest solutions is to choose clothing made from 100% natural fibres such as organic cotton, Tencel, hemp or linen. Once these materials are discarded, they can be returned to the earth and even composted at home (provided they have not been treated with any harsh chemical dyes).

Another option is closed loop yoga gear made from recycled materials which would otherwise be sent to landfill – such as deadstock fabric from factories, upcycled clothing items or post-consumer waste.

Other yoga gear

Depending on your practice, you’ll also likely be using other gear – from a reusable water bottle to a yoga wheel. Firstly, it’s again important that you use any gear you already own to the death before buying any new items and when you do, focus on materials such as cork or wood which can be composted or items made on a closed loop.

However, the water bottle is one exception, which you may want to replace earlier if it is plastic. That’s because plastic particles will start releasing into your water after a certain time, so it’s best to just be safe and invest in a stainless steel or glass bottle which will last you for years to come!

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