Crafted from sustainably harvested cork in Portugal, these stunning mats will take your yoga practice to new eco-friendly heights.
Yoga mats are wonderful things. They give people a place to stretch, exercise, and relax, to get in tune with their bodies and improve flexibility. The majority of yoga mats, however, are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is considered to be one of the most toxic plastics. PVC off-gasses, so those deep breaths you take while holding a position could actually be bringing unwanted chemicals into your lungs at the same time.
For those concerned about the full life cycle, PVC does not biodegrade, which means that your yoga mat will be around for your great-great-great-great grandchildren to enjoy, too -- not the kind of heirloom most of us want to hand down.There are some eco-friendly alternatives out there, such as the Manduka pure rubber EKO mat and the Barefoot Yoga Eco Mat made from jute and rubber, but the one I want to tell you about today is the Corc Yoga Mat.
This mat is, hands down, the most gorgeous yoga mat I've ever seen. It rolls out just like a regular mat, feels smooth to the touch, and yet has a natural grip and sponginess to it, which is to be expected when you think of how a wine cork feels. Cork is hypoallergenic, making it perfect for yogis with allergies to latex, and naturally antimicrobial, eliminating odors.
Corc mats are made in Portugal, where the cork is harvested from trees that regenerate their own bark every nine years. The industry is a well-established and highly regulated one, a major export for this small Mediterranean nation, and entirely sustainable when managed properly. From the Corc Yoga website:
"The cork industry provides as many as 20,000 well-paying seasonal jobs throughout 500+ cork production factories each year, despite an otherwise slow moving economy and higher than average unemployment rates. Here at Corc Yoga, we are proud to be partnering with a factory that has been in the cork industry for the past 100 years."
The mat can be used just like any yoga mat, but it does need to be cleaned (as any mat should be), especially after hot or sweaty practices. This avoids buildup of oils that could make it become slippery. The directions say to simply wipe down with a cloth and natural cleaning spray once per week.
The product line is small, but those products are well made. There is a basic yoga mat in adult and youth sizes, as well as the option for customization. A cork block and carrying sling are also available for purchase. Shipping is a $10 flat rate, and the mats come in a recycled cardboard box with paper tape and a burlap ribbon. (I must say, it was wonderful not to get a pile of plastic when mine arrived.)
Visit the Corc Yoga site for more information.