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Recycled Yoga Props by YOGO in collaboration with Nike

Develop seven core yoga props for studio or travel, using 50-90% recycled materials.

Photo of Jessica YOGO
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We propose a solution that utilizes a meaningful amount of material volume, and also leverages the high-quality, high-performance nature of the 'grind' for athletic purposes. The project will undertake full design and testing of seven yoga props. They will form a super-sustainable recycled yoga-fitness set.  This set aims to use design and materials to satisfy yoga prop needs with excellent performance, as portable as possible, and use a look that celebrates its recycled content with a clean, and athletic, and yogic look. We initially intend to develop prototypes of the four following products, all of which we have completed initial ideation or testing of: 

1 Yoga Mat EVA/NR
2 Medicine/Massage Ball EVA/NR
3 Roller EVA/NR
4 Knee Pad EVA
5 Block EVA
6 Bolster EVA/Fluff
7 Cushion EVA/Fluff

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

We will incorporate the waste materials as part of the new mixture to go in a mold, or as 100% of stuffing for sewn products. Certain products will be designed for a long-term stuffing sac that has a changeable cover for long term durability. All of these products are existing items in the sport world that rarely use recycled content; our goal will be to find ways to use increased levels of recycled content using processes we are already engaged in. We will nudge the industry forward by finding design solutions to incorporate waste in a high-performance, beautiful manner. 1 Yoga Mat - EVA or NR ground and combined with virgin materials 2 Medicine/Massage Ball for smaller ground can be combined with virgin material 3 Roller - both EVA and NR will be explored for relative weight, durability and surface looks; also can be explored adding a layer to plastic tube 4 Knee Pad - same as mat 5 Block - explore 50-90% recycled mix 6 Bolster - explore stuffing of various materials into a removable interior sack 7 Cushion - same as bolster

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping
  • Piloting
  • Corporate Submission

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

The collection will target core yogis, and athletes that use yoga to enhance their focus and performance. We will attempt designs suitable for travel or studio, with higher-end prices (leaving enough margin for wholesale but low enough to move volume). They will be in the premium segment, and targeted equally to men and women. The audience cares about sustainability, but will buy the product because it looks great and functions well, and is in the upper-middle price category.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

The collection will be commercialized as YOGO's products through existing channels. YOGO has an existing global e-commerce supply chain including web store (direct to consumer), Amazon store, and small-to-large wholesale partners. We will invest in a specialized marketing campaign with beautiful imagery showcasing the product series, values, and collaboration. We have trusted production partners and factories standing ready to help develop and then produce any new product. YOGO's team and logistics and fulfillment architecture can easily support an expanded product selection, when released carefully and sustainably. All parts of the business are designed to scale. We have an established, trusted brand, look and personality yet are small enough to take risks and innovate rapidly. YOGO is privately-owned, and this is our 5th year in business.

How is your idea innovative?

Each item will use innovative design solutions to replace recycled for virgin content for a full recycled and crisp-looking yoga prop series. We have been developing / testing techniques with all of these materials and have several unreleased prototypes. Much has to do with binding/mixing, materials mix ratios, novel ways of constructing combining the items, pretty, durable, safe, and green items in surprising combos that will surprise and delight customers.

What inspired this idea?

We want to help solve the waste problem in fitness! We have strict sustainability standards so in order to expand the collection, it's necessary to innovate beyond current market offerings, and push factories out of their comfort zones. This is a fun and inspiring challenge for us!

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

YOGO is a nimble team of yoga, fitness and environment enthusiasts based primarily in beautiful San Francisco. In 2013 CEO Jessica left a Washington DC corporate job in climate change finance/renewable energy to follow her passion for green products.

In what city are you located?

San Francisco

In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

YOGO has a passionate but small R&D department. Participating with IDEO, a top design shop, in a facilitated collaborative process with testers and feedback-givers will help us jumpstart development. Also hoping to learn from the deep expertise at Nike! We'd be very honored to be selected, this will help spread the word about these awesome products that support wellness and the environment! If we receive monetary compensation this will help us produce and market the first product runs.
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Attachments (3)


example bolster with fluff to be improved upon

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 12.31.10 PM.png

Example of yoga mat using recycled granules.

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 12.31.31 PM.png

Example of block and ball with recycled content.

This inspired (1)

Nike Chakra


Join the conversation:

Photo of Josh Ehrenreich

Hi Jessica YOGO ,
How goes the prototyping? I'm a yogi in SF and your idea resonates with me. I practice a lot of restorative yoga which is quite prop-heavy and I wanted to check in.

Photo of Jessica YOGO

Hi Josh! So glad you asked, I'll post an update in a moment. It's going great and we are doing final testing on Friday afternoon in Dogpatch, can you join us? It would be a half hour testing session in exchange for a free yoga mat. We'd love your feedback! Please email

Photo of Josh Ehrenreich

Glad to hear! Will follow up via email.

Photo of Lauren Ito

HI Jessica,

A reminder that the ideas phase of this Challenge closes in less than one hour, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please have your submission updated by this deadline with content to all proposal questions complete.

Excited to have you in the Challenge!

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Jessica YOGO ,

Great to see you in the Challenge! I'm curious, how would you go about prototyping some of these designs using Nike Grind materials? Additionally, what is the size of your target market?

Tagging in some individuals who we encourage you to connect with and provide feedback on one another's concepts: Shannon South , Helio , Aakar Mehra 

Excited to learn more!

Photo of Jessica YOGO

Hi Lauren, thanks and thanks for the question! It depends on each item. I'd hope to get as much as possible from the IDEO process. For the sewn items, I have a sewer here in SF that I can work with to come up with variations of shapes, and we could literally try stuffing them with the materials. I would be very interested to actually handle each one. Theoretically these are all quite feasible so it would be a matter of which one was better functionality wise. (fluff, ground EVA, and foam sheets.) So, physically stuffing and sewing various designs.

There are five EVA or rubber candidates. For these, this is much more of an industrial process requiring machines due to the probable use of a composite then either cutting or use of molds. I do not have access to a factory in my own city that can do this but I do have access to ones farther away that would support the process by putting together different variations. What we could do is actually handle and examine the different Grind materials to see their weight, color etcetera. I would probably have questions on the types of variation in the waste stream. No all of the testing is merely functional, I'd hope to allow the recycled look to be visible and attractive. However this can be tricky: the finer you grind it it sometimes creates a mushy brown gook color that's not appealing. On the other hand coarse grind can have too many holes in the surface. At any rate, for those I'd want to handle and play with the materials and then ask the factory to prototype variations from similar materials that they have access to. We already have the molds ready to go so hopefully there would be time for a few testing cycles.

In terms of the size of the yoga market, it is huge and growing very quickly. In 2016 there were almost 40 million practitioners in the US alone, and at that time the number was growing at almost 16% compound annual growth rate. Financially, spending in that market was $16 billion per year. About 30% of those yogis are men, and that percentage is growing quickly. The tectonic shift of Americans into the yoga space represents a huge opportunity to green the fitness sector due not just to new equipment purchased, but a general culture and ethos of sustainability.

Photo of Aakar Mehra

Hi Jessica YOGO ,
Cool idea to create health and yoga related stuff with recycled grind material.
I was reading through your brief and then the answer to Lauren Ito 's questions and found your passion about this topic to be very commendable. I would recommend putting your reply to Lauren in the actual brief so that it can be integrated with the idea better.

I also wanted to throw some other questions/thoughts in order to brainstorm. Based on the feedback I got, I feel that it is important to show a circular design of the system. That means, how will you change the system in a way that you can use and reuse/remanufacture the same or different products with the same material giving it multiple lives? As you have your own organization, it might be cool to even look at the circular design guide ( to maybe evolve the system a little bit.
Hopefully this was helpful, looking forward to seeing this idea evolve.

Photo of Jessica YOGO

Aakar, thanks for peeking at my proposal and the supportive comments!

Great question. The primary change proposed here is capturing virgin waste coming out of a large manufacturing operation to recycle it into new products, I want to highlight that to us that is the largest change and win and in and of itself a huge challenge (in order to make this financially sustainable from day 1). We'd aim to use the maximum % of waste, together with fibers that are recycled or sustainably produced and biodegradable (eg organic cotton).

I have visited China recently and recycling manufacturing waste this is NOT a common practice. There is some use of recycled EVA but it is a small percentage. Buyers don't want it, and the industry believes that customers do not like the look. It is hard to work with and heavy. This is a huge problem. It is also less profitable, (poor margins) so sports buyers do not ask for it. Time and again factories told me once I made myself understood: "oh nobody wants that it's ugly and expensive". One factory confessed that they usually burn it. So, our primary hope is to tackle this stage and address this waste stream, which will require change all along the manufacturing process to the consumer.

I think what you are referring to is the end of life of YOGO's products themselves (round two of recycling or reuse), after we've already intervened one time in the linear manufacturing model by recycling. Here is how we plan to address the end of the product life at that stage:

The first way we'd address this is to make products that are high-quality and durable so they don't need replacing very often. They would also be easy to clean. For example, for stuffed items the cushion covers come off for washing instead of needing to throw them away. Also, they'd be easy to re-cover so that the sustainable covers can be replaced instead of the whole item. This flies in the face of fast-fashion (or fast yoga, haha) which depends on selling a constant stream of poor-quality items that expire quickly. Common wisdom is that constant replacing is necessary to drive profit in clothing and sports, but we believe models can be pioneered that focus on circularity first and profit second. This is difficult but possible and we are very lucky to have some prominent examples.

Ultimately we'd like to have a system in place for the second recycling event. In theory the foam materials should be recyclable once again in the same types of manufacturing processes. Our current items are biodegradable or can go in the recycling bin which requires no additional infrastructure. EVA and PER is much harder as that's not part of our typical waste collection infrastructure. These types of items require some kind of system to transport them back to the manufacturing facilities or a secondary recycling system. We'd love to work with Nike on this as they are pioneers in product re-collection. Another thing we try to keep in mind is the carbon footprint of sending items back. It's important to try to rely on existing transportation systems to get these back to a center, so as not to create a lot of carbon emissions with additional transport trips.

YOGO committed not just on CSR (our tree-planting program) but a concept called 'shared value' whereby we seek to create positive impacts or reduce negative ones through our very essential processes, and circular design is a part of this.