Aspiring yogis can hang ten on these mats that are giving a second life to neoprene wetsuits.
With the rising popularity of yoga as a health and fitness practice, yoga mats are rapidly becoming a fixture in homes, gym bags, and car trunks, and are ironically serving as a very visible sign of an attachment to the trappings of modern life that yoga is said to help relieve. And these same yoga accessories that are meant to improve our personal lives might actually have the opposite effect our environment, considering that many of them are made with virgin materials that are not only nonrenewable in nature, but are also made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and include other undesirables such as phthalates, lead, and cadmium, and are not the easiest things to recycle at the end of their lives.
In light of the fact that the regular practice of yoga has been correlated with reduced health interventions and decreased arthritis symptoms, among other benefits, it's unfortunate that one of the main recommended accessories, the yoga mat, can be detrimental to the planet. And while there's nothing in the traditional yogic literature that dictates that the practice requires a mat, there's a whole lotta marketing that says differently, so it's heartening to find out that there's a company which is creating a new kind of mat by using another hard-to-recycle material.
Suga, founded in Encinitas, California by surfer and yogi Brian Shields, makes new "premium quality" yoga mats from 100% recycled neoprene wetsuits, which are claimed to both feel and perform better than other brands. The Suga mats, being made of closed-cell neoprene, are said to not 'sponge up' things such as dirt, dust, bacteria, and sweat from floors, as other mats may, and are simple to clean. The company claims that its mats offer a dense and cushioning platform for asanas, even though the mats are just 5 mm thick, and that they maintain their 'grippiness' in both dry and wet conditions.
"The SügaMat has undergone significant R&D and beta-testing prior to being unleashed on yogis worldwide. Although our mats are made from recycled wetsuits, they perform better than any mat on the market. We have built them to specific tolerances of density, tackiness (both wet and dry), elasticity, durability, and liquid permeability and retention. We are confident that you'll dig every asana on your SügaMat."
By serving as a beneficial second use for a product that doesn't have a long first life, Suga (which comes from combining the words surfing & yoga) aims to reduce the environmental impact of surfing, while also adding a recycled option for a yogic accessory. Suga has one production mold and two cutting dies for production already, as well as "several tons" of wetsuits collected for its first large-scale production run, which will begin in January.
On top of its regular offering of the Suga mats, the company also offers a C2G (Cradle to Grave) option, which means that should something happen to the mat while you own it, it can be sent back to Suga in exchange for a free replacement mat, no questions asked. To launch Suga to the world, the company has turned to Kickstarter, where a crowdfunding campaign offers its mats to backers at the $69 level, or a C2G mat for an early-bird pricing of $89.