Yes ... if you are in Edinburgh - living, practicing or just passing through - you are welcome to drop by and pick up an ecoYoga mat. Please call or email in advance if possible. Whilst most sales occur through stockists i often hold a small batch of mats in-house. These are usually the lighterweight (my preference:) and the funky factory seconds, and sometimes the regular 4mm mats.
Yoga mats have become the major accessory to ones practice and with the ever increasing trend it means millions and millions of mats are out there being bought and disposed. That's a lot of mats in landfill sites. We believe the postures on your yoga mat are the beginning of a journey to protect and promote the health and well-being of your body, mind and soul. If this inner awareness is awakened one hopes it finds reflection in the external world. Practicing on a shiny glossy plastic mat made as cheaply as possible for maximum profit we view as the antithesis of yoga. It is a simple gesture to practice on a mat created with yoga in mind from renewable resources.
We thought it would be lovely to be able to practice on something a bit closer to nature, something aesthetically considered, but still have the grip that everyone so desires !
Of course the choice is up to you!
ecoYoga mats are made from entirely natural plant based materials: 100% natural rubber and hessian. The rubber compound is environmentally neutral so, at the end of the Yoga mat's life, it can be composted and or safely used in the garden - making them completely eco-friendly. They are PVC free (PVC is a long term pollutant plastic in production through to disposal).
Mat cleaners & cleansers have been formulated with plastic mats in mind, or at least not with a 100% natural material in mind. Since plastic is itself a by-product of the oil industry oils have no detrimental affect on it's molecular structure. For this reason most of the mat cleaners contain essential oils. For natural rubber however oils accelerate degradation. Whilst the level of these essential oils, such as lavender and tea-tree will be very low and will not damage the ecoYoga mat they will however contribute to the materials slow slow softening and degradation :: much as your own body oils will (along with air and uv-light which dry out the material). All you really need is to wipe down with warm water & a small amount of regular white vinegar. Simple techniques are best (:
The price of raw natural rubber has been increasing over the several years. Natural rubber and synthetic rubber are closely linked in the stock market so the increase in oil prices which affects the price of synthetic rubber has had a knock on affect on natural rubber prices. The rubber market is a speculative market and big brokers continue to forecast the massive consumption rate in China and the far east. This is pushing the price up. Our mats are made from the highest quality natural materials in the UK. We try to minimise waste as much as possible. Quality control and production costs are higher than mass produced German or Chinese mats in comparison.
The ecoYoga jute mats are skilfully made in the UK . We deliberately choose not to make our mats in China or Taiwan : Cheap labour and mass production did not seem right. Fair Trade standards within the jute or rubber industry are slowly emerging though are currently very limited. Our Scottish jute supplier has long family business relationships in India and Bangladesh and works only with government factories (all ISO-9001 certified) where standards can be monitored. They already have their own standards in practice.
The international rubber trade has not met with consumer demand to supply fair trade rubber though, in the current climate of business, this has to change in the not too too distant future. We are making our own enquiries into the potential of this for our yoga mats.
The chances are that your mat still contains PVC, an environmentally damaging plastic. Also many of the other plastic and rubber mats need high energy consumming production methods. There is however much change afoot in the yoga mat world with increased demand for non-plastic goods. We have not yet found any supplier of Yoga mats that conform to our sense & standards of ecology.
It really depends on your practice, your environment and how you look after it. In 10 years the feedback has been from 2 years to 10 years ! Truly !
The natural rubber is sensitive to sunlight, oils and extreme heat (e.g. sitting on top a radiator). These all will contribute to the degradation of the material. We have had customers buying their new mats after 18 months happy with its wear. At the end of 2006 we made some improvements to the mat so we anticipate longer life spans for most practitioners.
From time to time this has caused concern for some practitioners. Initial shedding has occured with some mats then stops until much later into the use of the mat. Lycra clothes seem to attract the little rubber particles more than cotton which means we would not suggest lycra as the best fabric to practice in. Again it depends on your practice. We are looking into wear and tear of the mats as time passes and we always need feedback. With the slightly higher density of rubber in our new mats we hope any premature wearing will be substantially reduced.
Eco-tex (or Oeko-tex) is a private European testing laboratory that assess materials for harmfulness to human skin contact. Such Yoga mats are not strictly "environmental" or "ecological". We believe any product that contains PVC cannot claim to be environmental. ecoYoga does not sell any Yoga mats with the Eco-tex certificate.
Rubber and Latex is the substance, a lectin, skillfully tapped from just below the bark of the tree Hevea Brasiliensis. Natural rubber latex as it is tapped is a watery substance in which is suspended a mixture non-rubber particles like proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals. The most commonly used latex product in the world is the condom. Over one billion condoms are distributed by the World Health Organisation to combat the aids epidemic. Over eight billion are still needed.
Some people have a skin reaction to the rubber proteins in Latex. Our mats are specially formulated to minimise the dispersion of rubber proteins and the refore should be no problem to the vast majority of users. If you suspect an irritation you can give the mat a cycle in the washing machine. Flushing with water is the process used for condoms and rubber gloves to remove excess protein particles. If you already suffer from a latex allergy we would not advise you use the ecoYoga mat as a precautionary measure.
TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) foam is a non-toxic plastic that can be melted down easily for reuse (unlike PVC). Commonly it is used as ear plugs, toothbrush handles and weather seals. Yoga mats is one of its recent applications. It is soft and less durable, though more favourable, than PVC. PER (polymer environment resin) is a synthetic compound developed as an alternative to PVC. In the 1990s the popularity of PVC gave way to consumer and processor awareness of its environmental implications. PER contains no phthalates or heavy metals and has food grade skin safety.
The weave of jute chosen for the design of our mats is quite loose and soft. Inherent in this weave are random anomalies of loose threads and nubs. Whilst we discard the more extreme cases we do not consider the milder cases as faults or defects: in fact we feel that the mats have a more individual nature as a result.
Yes, Nick Loening, one of the founding members of ecoYoga Ltd now has the Ecoyoga Centre: ecoyoga.org
In 1997 Nick owned and ran The Yoga Centre on the Meadows in Edinburgh. It was here that the need for something other than awful plastic mats was realised and from here that ecoYoga ltd ran for it's first two years.
In the beginning there was no branding on the mats.
One of the benefits of yoga (to me) is that it is free from all the seduction of fashion and branding ... or so it WAS for the past 20 years has seen the morphing of a commercial industry that seems to have no boundary.
The ecoYoga mats come with an ecoYoga leaflet and, for the past few years, subtle branding in the form of a small paper sticker that beholds the ecoYoga logo. Of late i have discovered the sticker quire often unsticks. I apologise.
Some projects i endorse a co-branding, though most likely the branding will show only be the other given the nature of my current stickers (:
Regardless of branding, for good or bad, the ecoYoga mats have a reputation about their performance and integrity.
In the end it is, and will be, about your commitment to the practice not the label on the mat or on your pants.