Jessica is a long-time outdoors athlete and environmentalist, and spent many years in Washington helping businesses access climate-change funding for their renewable energy and forestry projects, and also working on the investor side of large energy infrastructure. Passionate about establishing a green busienss, in 2013 she left the international policy world and co-founded a company that is bringing sustainable yoga products to the world.
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 email@example.com.
Hi Aakar Mehra I think that's right! The fluff seems like the easiest stuffing, but that foam would cushion and insulate well. Luckily there are high quality materials to work with. Would be fun to see what you come up with!
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.