… They just fade away.
True for you? True for me. I still use my first mat (now over 12 years old), which starred in my very-first blog post. It’s been washed countless times, and it’s disintegrating in high-traffic spots. I now flip it over and use the reverse side.
It’s not my sole mat anymore. But why would I trash it? It’s a pebbly PVC mat with great traction and durability, but it’s not biodegradable. So I am trying to be eco-conscious by using it till it’s unusable.
Recently, my yoga classmate Cheryl got a new Manduka mat (the PROlite version). We all marveled at the mat’s slip-resistance, reputed longevity, and guilt-inducing price (US$68). It was a splurge for Cheryl, but, she pointed out, she’d been using her first (and only!) mat for over 10 years. I was impressed. No travel mat; no replacement waiting in the wings.
When those biodegradable non-PVC mats appeared, many probably chucked their old mats to be “environmental.” But was that wise?
In 2003, I interviewed Richard Heinberg about his first book The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Society. He’s now written four more, all on the concept of “peak oil,” the point at which earth’s petroleum supply tips toward scarcity. He foresaw tremendous economic, political, and social changes resulting from the end of “cheap oil,” everything from exorbitant air fares to global warfare to catastrophes like today’s ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Heinberg and I discussed hybrid vehicles, like Toyota’s Prius. He chuckled at the way folks were buying Priuses to be “green.” He recommended simply driving your old conventional car for as long as possible. “Whatever you reduce in carbon emissions from driving a Prius,” he said, “is dwarfed by the carbon released to produce that vehicle.”
I recalled Heinberg’s words when I saw the eco yoga mats. Manufacturing has inherent eco costs, regardless of whether the items are “green” or not! Buying this eco T-shirt or that eco water bottle is actually counterproductive. Often, the most eco-conscious act is simply to extend the lifespans of our existing “stuff.”