If yoga is about taking care of our bodies and our well-being (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 question. 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, how to treat sentient beings, and how to care for our earth (our bigger temple).
THAT SAID… there is an awareness that comes with yoga practice that we’re all connected and we’re in this together. Our individual thoughts, choices and actions have a reverberating effect on the energy of the whole. And once we know this, we can’t unknow it.
We can definitely 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 let’s be real, Elon Musk 😍) will fix America’s use of 3 MILLION plastic water bottles AN HOUR, or our average of 4.4 lbs of trash PER DAY, or that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish… is simply avoiding responsibility. Change comes from us and what we choose to consume or not consume.
The GOOD news is that we do have this power of choice, and our choices make a difference. Going low waste doesn’t happen overnight, but every little change makes a difference.
5 easy swaps for a more planet-kind practice:
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.
THE SWAP: stainless steel reusable water bottle
I’ve had this 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!
Plastic bag for sweaty clothes → Silicone reusable bag
Just say NO! 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!
Ok, are your ready for the good new swap??
THE SWAP: a reusable silicone bag
Unlike plastic bags, there’s no petroleum, no PVC, no latex, and low-to-no chemical leaching. 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!
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..
THE SWAP: a biodegradable yoga mat
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.
Paper towels + store bought cleaning spray → Cloth towel + DIY spray
Still with me?
Ok! Now that we have your mat sorted out, on to mat cleaning. 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. K let’s do it!
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!
Plastic wrapped power bars → Home prepped smoothies
Last one (for now!)
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.
THE SWAP: a smoothie packed with nutrients — ① throw in all the things ② blend ③ pour into a reusable to go bottle
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!
Here some of my favorite things to throw in. I never follow a recipe, just my gut:
big handful of greens as a base – kale + spinach are my favorites
2 bananas for potassium and texture
strawberries for sweetness
~1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil for good fat (local grocery store is best for this, try finding in glass bottle)
~1 tbsp spirulina for plant protein (did you know… spirulina is the most nutrient dense food on the planet!? And packs more protein than red meat!)
add any/all of the following: flax seeds, hemp seeds, hemp oil, flax seed oil, chia seeds, cacao, maca, chlorella, bee pollen (there are so many amazing superoods out there!) Many of these products are available in bulk locally, try that first to save on shipping/packaging!
Just these 5 changes are HUGE. They cut down the bulk of our daily waste. In yoga practice and everyday life.
Give them a try!
We’d love to hear about your #planetkindyoga practice. What swaps you’re lovin’ and the things you still struggle with. Share your experiences below!