Well maybe just yoga mats!
Today I got to go back to my Iyengar yoga sessions, real life, in person, with other people for the first time in over a year (fuck you covid!). I was a little bit excited to say the least! But as I picked up my tatty old yoga mat from the floor to take it with me I realised I just need a bloody new one. Mine is over 10 years old, has had a great life but is now looking very much worse for wear.

So this got me thinking about what new one I would buy. My trusty old one is one of the standard spongy PVC plastic ones, full of toxins, not very eco friendly and very hard to dispose of now it’s past its best.

What am I going to replace it with then?
Cork. Yes, that same material that plugs your wine bottles and, if you’re like me and of a certain age, used to cover the top of your bathroom scales (anyone else remember those? Just me then!).

What is so great about cork then I hear you ask?
Oh just about EVERYTHING!
Portugal has about 34% of the global cork forests and those trees alone retain over 4 million tonnes of CO2 every year!

Cork is also ultra sustainable. To harvest cork the tree doesn’t have to be felled, instead the bark is expertly removed every nine years to give us the fabulous cork material. Cork trees can live up to 300 year old…so that’s a lot of cork from one tree!
On the other end of its life span, cork is incredibly easy to recycle when the product you have made from it comes to the end of its natural life.

Oh but there’s more! I tell you, cork is just a wonder material. It has natural antibacterial qualities, making it perfect for all those hands and bare feet on yoga mats. It’s also waterproof, fire retardant, elastic, insulating, buoyant and just incredibly durable. It can also be used in thin sheets as well as thick blocks, meaning it’s uses can be extremely varied – from purses, belts and yoga mats to soles for shoes, insulation, flooring and vessel stoppers. Is there nothing cork cannot do?!

Now that I’ve worked out what new mat I’m buying, I have to address what to do with my old PVC yoga mat. If I just put it in the bin it’ll end up in landfill which is a) not good and b) REALLY not good. 

The PVC standard yoga mats are very difficult (if not impossible) to recycle. Therefore the best thing to do with them is repurpose them either as a whole or in bits – underfloor insulation in a small room maybe? If it’s not too worn it can be repurposed as a camping mat or it can be folded and made into a knee pad for gardening or scrubbing the floor (is that still a thing? Not in my house!).
The other option is to donate it to a charity for sleeping mats or such like.
This is in no way an advert, just a bloody excellent company, but Soul Sanctum will take your old PVC yoga mat when you buy a beautiful new cork one from them, and donate it to People in Motion on your behalf…I call that a win, win, win. You get a nice new cork mat, your old PVC one stays out of landfill AND you get to help someone too, what is not to love about that?!

So that’s it. Cork yoga mats are the future…well anything made of cork is really!

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