Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's 3Rs -- When your yoga mat has seen better days

All natural rubber yoga mat from Jade Yoga

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those used yoga and exercise mats when they've worn out their welcome? Many exercise enthusiasts buy all the right equipment and then retire it before it's ever felt a drop of sweat. Seasoned physical fitness folks replace their mats for a variety of reasons -- the mat gets worn or a new color catches their eye. But what happens to all those used mats? Certainly, there has to be a better answer than simply hauling them off to the landfill, right?

Well, that's what Stephanie Stano, founder of Recycle Your Mat thought. So, in 2008, she started a program with these 3 goals in mind:
  1. Keep yoga mats out of the landfill
  2. Create a system for yoga mat recycling
  3. Recycle and upcycle mats in an ecologically conscious way
Visit her website for more information on how to get your used mats to her for recycling/upcycling.

Stano wasn't the only one with a concern for keeping the mats out of the landfill. Jade's 3Rs is a program run by Jade Yoga with a focus on providing lightly used mats to prisons, shelters and other locations where yoga teachers volunteer to teach classes to people who could otherwise not afford to take them or to buy the equipment. Mats that are not usuable for classes are upcycled in a variety of other ways. Visit the Jade Yoga website for a list of drop-off locations across the U.S. (along with one in Berlin, Germany).

In lieu of sending your used mats off to be reused, recycled or upcycled, here are some of the countless ideas for putting your mats to good use:

  • Place a piece of the mat under water and food dishes to keep them from sliding around and to keep the floor clean
  • Contain out-of-the-box kitty litter by placing the mat in front of the litter box
  • Make your pup's crate a bit more comfy by lining it with the mat
  • Keep your car seats clean and free from fur and scratches by covering your backseat with a mat or two before transporting your pet
  • Line your pet's carrying crate for a softer trip to the vet
  • Donate your old mat to a local pet shelter
  • Put a mat down to protect the table from paint and clay during craft time
  • Cut the mats and put them on the floor of your car to protect the carpet from muddy and wet feet
  • Cut out letters, numbers and shapes for your pre-schooler to play with
  • Cover the sharp corners of furnitures to protect toddlers from nasty boo-boos
  • Place at the bottom of the sliding board to cushion rough landings
  • Roll up in sleeping bags so your kids can have them handy for a softer night's sleep during sleepovers
  • Make bases for backyard baseball games
  • Cushion hard bleachers during sports activities (you'll be the envy of all the other soccer moms!)
  • Line a tub for baby's bathtime
House and Garden
  • Protect car doors from banging into the concrete walls by hanging some matting in the garage
  • Cut matching rectangles and glue together for a cushy kneeling pad
  • Place under entry throw rugs to keep them from slipping
  • Give your mat a good cleaning (may I suggest using vinegar for disinfecting?) and cut it up to use as shelf and drawer liners
  • Cut circles to protect floors and furniture from houseplants
  • Make slippery steps safer by making stair pads
Other eco-friendly ideas
  • Wrap breakables before shipping (sure beats styrofoam peanuts!)
  • Stop drafts from under air conditioner units or in cracks in doors and window frames by slicing up the mat and fitting the pieces tightly in crevices
These are just some of the many ideas. I would love it if you would add some of your own in the comments.

Finding ways to reuse and recycle whole bunches of stuff simply takes a little bit of creativity and a little bit of effort. But when you think about it, aren't our kids and grandkids worth it?

Keeping it out of the landfill,


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