5 Easy Zero Waste Yoga Swaps
If yoga is about taking care of our bodies and our wellbeing (our temple as some would say), what about the external stuff? How does that fit in? How can we make our practice more sustainable for the whole planet?
It’s a tough one. A teacher once told me that “the hardest yoga of all is connecting to the world and people around us.” There is no one way, or right way. Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to decide how to relate to others and our planet (our bigger temple).
There's an awareness of connection that comes from practicing yoga regularly. Our individual thoughts, choices and actions have a reverberating effect on the energy of the whole. And once we know this, we can’t un-know it.
We can ignore it for convenience’ sake (been there daily!) but the knowing remains. Our individual choices matter.
If we vehemently focus on our body as a temple yet leave a pile of waste in our wake knowing the harm it will cause, what does that say about us? “Everyone else is doing it” is not good enough anymore. There’s too much at stake.
Assuming the powers that be (or Elon Musk) will fix the environmental crisis is simply avoiding the issue. Change comes from us, collectively. Both from our individual actions, and by demanding that governments and businesses take responsibility.
Americans use 3 MILLION plastic water bottles AN HOUR, throw out 4.4 pounds of trash PER PERSON PER DAY, and by 2050 there'll be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
And yet, we **already** have the technology for plastic alternatives, re-processing existing plastic, clean energy, environmental regeneration, and so much more.
We have the solutions. Now it's a matter of educating ourselves and others, spreading awareness, and demanding change.
One of the best ways to better understand the plastic-crisis is to try to reduce your personal plastic consumption. This will show you just how pervasive plastic is in everyday life, and how big a part major corporations play.
Below are 5 simple swaps for a more sustainable yoga practice.
5 Easy Swaps For Sustainable Practice:
1. Plastic water bottle → Reusable bottle
This is one of the easiest and most effective swaps. For yoga class and everyday life.
Americans use 3 MILLION plastic water bottles AN HOUR. Holy moly. Only 9.5% plastic bottles actually get recycled 👀 The rest end up in landfills where they take hundreds of years to break down into smaller and smaller pieces (which never go away because they’re inorganic), and in the process leak pollutants into the soil and water. No good.
I’ve had this Klean Kanteen one for over 2 years. It’s taken many spills and survived them all. The great thing about the 64 oz is that it also ensure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Yes it’s a little pricey, but if you’re buying water bottles at $1 a piece, it pays for itself in a little over a month 💰 I love Klean Kanteen because of their mission, but there are lots of other options out there!
2. Plastic bag for sweaty clothes → Silicone bag
Just say, “No thank you.” This one is a doozy. Plastic bags get handed out like hot cakes. “Oh you’re buying ONE item, here are 2 plastic bags to go with it..” (said every bodega in NYC 😆)
The solution is simple: BYOB (bring your own bag) and be on the ready to say “No thanks!” the next time someone tries to hand you a plastic bag (over and over)
It’s not that plastic bags can’t get recycled, it’s that most curbside recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags because they require special facilities. So where do they end up? You guessed it… in landfills and in our oceans. Shoppers worldwide use ~500 billion single-use plastic bags per year. That’s just about a million bags every minute across the globe! Over 1 million marine animals die every year a result, many are becoming endangered, and the ones that end up on people’s plates are contaminated. Which means we’re quite literally poisoning ourselves. HALP!
Unlike plastic bags, there’s no petroleum, no PVC, no latex, and low-to-no chemical leaching in silicone. Dirty? Throw it in the washing machine or use soap + warm water to clean. Silicone can be recycled, and once burned Silicon (a natural element) can be composted. Yay!
3. PVC/TPE/foam yoga mat → Natural tree rubber mat
This one is a little bit more of an investment. But is so worth it, especially if you practice regularly!
There is no layer of separation between you and your yoga mat. You breathe on it, sweat on it, maybe (probably! 😭💕) cry on it… your body and energy is all over your mat. And that goes both ways. What’s in your mat ends up on you.
Unfortunately, most cheaper options available at sports stores and chain stores and online are made from combinations of toxic plastics and harsh chemicals. All those abbreviations you may have seen — PVC, TPE, foam — are all chemical concoctions. Or my favorite, when the materials aren’t even listed 🤣 You know it can’t be good if it’s undisclosed.
A large part of why we started Ananday is because we couldn’t find a planet-friendly + affordable mat. We looked and looked, and then decided to take matters into our own hands 🙋♀️ The mat we offer is made from natural tree rubber & sustainable cork. It’s completely non-toxic and naturally antimicrobial (because of cork magic ✨). We also love Manduka and Jade Yoga mats. Both companies use ethically sourced, natural tree rubber.
4. Store bought cleaning spray and paper towels → DIY spray + glass bottle + cloth towels
We practice, we sweat, sweat drips onto our mat.. its’ a good idea to occasionally clean our mats.
Store-bought sprays may seem quick and easy, but they’re likely to have a long list of ingredients we can’t pronounce. These ingredients will end up on our skin, one of our largest organs. Keep it clean AND natural!
And paper towels are just not cool. They are actually not recyclable. They’re often made from recycled paper pulp — a non-recyclable product — and are usually dirty or wet when we’re done with them, making them pure waste.
If every American reduced the number of paper towels they use by just one per day, we would divert 571,230,000 pounds of paper waste each year.
This is a very easy swap, and you already likely have all the materials you need (it’s also cheaper than restocking paper towels + who-knows-whats-in-this sprays)
These ingredients cost a little upfront moolah, but they last for years! Essential oils can be used for household cleaning, aromatherapy, skincare, and witch hazel is my everyday morning cleanser.
- 1 cup distilled/spring water – filtered water ensures a contaminant-free zone
- (optional) 1/4 cup witch hazel – natural astringent that removes excess oil
- 10-15 drops tea tree essential oil – powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties
- (optional) 6-10 drops lavender essential oil – antioxidant, antimicrobial and calming
- Mix the above ingredients in order and you have yourself a mat clean spray!
5. Plastic wrapped power bars → Homemade smoothie in reusable bottle
This one is tough, I’m still working on it daily. After yoga session it’s so tempting to go for a packaged power bar — it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s yummy, BUT it comes in plastic. And we know what happens to plastic.. It ends up as waste that doesn’t go away.
But with a little planning and prep, it’s totally doable to cut down on plastic-packaged bars.
This has become my go-to breakfast/snack. So quick and easy, and filled with greens, fruits, herbs and superfoods that I wouldn’t otherwise get in. My VitaMix (bought refurbished and still running like new after 3 years) has got to be one of my favorite life hacks #BlendAndGo!
Just these 5 changes are HUGE. They cut down the bulk of our daily waste. In yoga practice and everyday life.
We’d love to hear about your #planetkindyoga practice. What swaps you’re loving and what you still struggle with. Comment below.
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