This page will hold the notes of our fully transparent sustainability diary. This is a living document which will constantly evolve over time in our commitment to be an open doors brand. Brands, we implore you to steal these ideas and make them your own in order to disrupt the industry and invoke real change. Everything we learn. Every experiment. Every learning. Every desire and goal. They will all live here. Because this is how change happens. Through openness and honesty.May we grow together. May we flow together.
Entry One. March 2021.
Dear Mother Earth,
Nothing is created. Nothing disappears. Everything is just transformed.
As part of Yogi Bare’s Year Of The Self it was imperative to us to explore the concept Self Education, especially in regards to sustainability.
When Yogi Bare was just a little dream, a few scribbles in a notebook, a big idea and a gut instinct our world looked a little different. Five years ago vegan supermarket shopping meant tinned chickpeas and if you were lucky a choice of two (two!) bean burgers in the freezer aisle. The conversations around BLM and institutionalised racism that rocked and reshaped our world were still muted. It was only the beginning of recognising strength in vulnerability and honesty around normalising mental health and breaking down stigma and shame. Fast fashion was in its prime. And sustainability? Well didn’t that just mean using a keep cup and a bit of recycling?
When Yogi Bare began I used all the information available to me at the time to cultivate a brand that echoed my own sensibilities and belief systems – that we only get one planet and we must take care of it. There really is no planet B despite what the sci fi films tell us. We have become so disconnected and our values have become led so far astray that I wanted to help bridge the gap by launching an eco conscious and more accessible yoga brand – mainly because it never made sense to me that we would practice presence, love and connection to our relationship with the earth through yoga while usually sitting on a toxic plastic or PVC mat. Bonkers right? So I researched, asked all the “right” questions, used all the materials and manufacturing information out there to begin Yogi Bare. Back then Yogi Bare was born on a shoestring self funded budget (and if you know me personally you know im not a saver!) and my own naively self education around product, design and starting a business. No external investment, advisor or mentorship (I didn’t even know these things existed beyond Dragons Den) back then. So I went into with a good heart, good intentions and big ideas and looking around the industry we were all operating from the same vibe and same materials. I was doing it! Right?Well now I’m five years deep into Yogi Bare and everything feels a little different. I am so proud to be part of this brave new world where we ask questions, where we fearlessly shout our beliefs and values, where we challenge the status quo and share information and opinions. And we aren’t afraid to expect and demand more from the brands we choose to align with, after all we vote with our pound. And as a small business it is my duty to make your vote count and mean something if you choose Yogi Bare.
Yogi Bare has been a very step by step, slow progression behind the scenes. I wish I started a diary much earlier but the Cliff Notes is – I have a vision and innovative ideas for where I would like the brand to be by 2023 and have been making the steps to get there since day one.
Last year we went through a rebranding due to a trademark dispute with a global brand (but that’s another story for another day hey!) but it gave us a chance to take stock and totally revaluate our packaging as we rebranded it. We were using a recycled and recyclable plastic but it wasn’t clear and the community often commented on how it just didn’t feel Yogi Bare. We’ve finally gone fully plastic free on our packaging – Ill tell ya how a little later. But it really got me hung up on plastics and misconceptions and the lack of clarity around sustainability. I thought our previous choice was the best choice – protecting the product and the planet somewhat. But with a little education and exploration we did better. So what if I kept educated? Kept doing better? It’s a bold move for a brand who has built a reputation around caring for people and planet to say “hey we didn’t quite get it right. That wasn’t as good as it could have been”. But that’s the only way change happens right. To be a change maker is to get really uncomfortable and shine a lamp and interrogate yourself completely. You’ve gotta take the emotion out of it and work from the facts. Because if nothing changes, nothing moves. Im tired In an age of transparency and awareness and not accepting less than your best efforts.My friends this is why I have been a little off grid, a little preoccupied. This is probably the most important month of the Self to me. I have been squirrelled away for months, unlearning everything, unpicking everything to relearn. To Self Educate. Because once you begin the process of educating yourself, nothing can ever be unseen.
Sustainability is something so close to my heart. How can it not be? I flinch when I see the devastation of industrial practice on our planet. I’m incredibly lucky to be growing within this community, our community, of like minded humans who stand up for and talk about these things that matter so much to us. Its just, it’s a complicated world isn’t it? The world of sustainability isn’t clear cut, sadly within the realm there’s manipulation and smoke and mirrors. There’s misinformation. There’s information with make up on to hide the truth pimples. And then there’s total lack of information in other areas. So we decided to make a stand. Its scary but im putting myself on the line and opening the doors wide open with Yogi Bare and inviting you into the process.
And if I didn’t truly understand and have it sussed how could I expect our team or community? I realised it was vital to document all of this. Not just to provide a place for people to educate themselves but maybe spark a match within the industry. Im not precious. In sharing my learning I actually hope that other brands pick up on it and we cause a major shift. For that is where the true change, the only change, is going to happen. From a place of honest transparency. Plus you know i've always had a thing for rebels.
All my love,
Kat. Founder of Yogi Bare.
Entry Two. March 2021.Dear Mother Earth,
Nothing is created. Nothing Disappears. Everything is just transformed. This is the first law of thermodynamics. That all matter, all energy, all things that exist simply shape shift. Nothing is ever destroyed, nothing ever actually disappears. How bonkers is that when you actually take a moment to think about it? Us Yogi’s speak a lot about the shifting of energy and a more esoteric experience of the universe and energy exchange but lets take it back to science for now.
Moreover lets take the conceptual out of the universe for a moment. We live on this planet full of matter of varying composition and origin, from plants to sand to minerals to metals. None of which actually disappears. It only shape shifts. Okay, got it.
So now let's get into the science of sustainability because facts are something that cannot be argued with or denied. In order to do so we need to be able to define what “Sustainability” actually means. And this was our first stumbling block.
We put this question to you, our incredible community (we love the fact you always want to get involved in our explorations!) and our team. Each answer was similar, yet different, a multitude of perspectives and hierarchy of importance. Some were opposing. Some were vague. Some we tried to dig a little deeper on, for example “Sustainable = eco friendly” but what does “eco friendly” mean to you?
It became apparent quite quickly that sustainability is not clear cut. And we were not alone in this. One of the leading figureheads in the sustainability movement Karl Henrik Robert was frustrated at lack of common language around this subject and noted that without understanding the root cause how could we ever create progressive change? In 1989, he circulated a paper on sustainability to 50 scientists, asking for their input. The extensive deliberative process involved 22 versions, but a consensus emerged that led to The Natural Step. The Natural Step framework sets out the system conditions for sustainability, as well as guidelines to systematically approach compliance with the principles. The Natural Step aims to be both scientifically based and readily understandable in its articulation of principles for sustainability.
Phew no wonder we are all a bit lost at sea in this! If it took 50 scientists, 22 drafts to come to agreement then its okay to find the field of sustainability difficult to navigate. Unfortunately this leaves the space wide open to misinformation, to projecting what maybe a brand wants you too see rather than reality, to putting your best foot forward and leaving the sock-less, shoe with a hole in somewhat in the shadows.
So as a brand we have decided to take a stand. Like we said in post one, when we began Yogi Bare we were operating on the knowledge on sustainable materials and process that was out there readily available to research. Every day more and more brands are emerging echoing this information, thus perpetuating the chain. So in sharing our progress, our knowledge and discoveries openly and transparently we actually hope, implore you to STEAL THESE NOTES. Very banksy I know. But that how change on mass happens.
Sustainability is commonly understood to require the balanced pursuit of three goals: ecological health, social equity, and economic welfare. These were all reflected in your answers to us and simplified: PEOPLE, PLANET, ECONOMY = FUTURE.
It is grounded on the ethical commitment to the well-being not only of contemporary populations but also the well- being and enhanced opportunities of future generations. The scientific and technical professions have a special responsibility in this regard because the knowledge and technologies they develop and employ have immense impacts on natural environments, economies, and the empowerment of citizens and societies. Moreover, their efforts and achievements can continue to produce effects, for good or ill, well into the future.
However the nitty gritty of this as a small or any business is rift with complexities. As my personal hero and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard states “Everything man does creates more harm than good. We have to accept that fact and not delude ourselves into thinking something is sustainable. Then you can try to achieve a situation where you’re causing the least amount of harm possible. That’s the spin we put on it. It’s a never-ending summit. You’re just climbing forever.”
As daunting as this statement was as a business owner, within the honesty and factuality was a sense of peace. It made me realise our first steps loud and clear:
Define our guiding light principles for every business decision moving forward.
Audit our entire range and create a Good/Better/Best time line towards shifting everything in line with our research and guiding principles. No matter the price. No matter the cost.
We were all in.
The best known definition of sustainability is the one stated in the thesis Our Common Future, more commonly known as the Brundtland Report: “..meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” The whole document boils down to the fact that this is our responsibility of our society to make good choices in order to preserve, protect and restore our resources and environment for the future. We cannot be selfish now and must recognise our role in this. Maybe this in the true meaning of life? We are the trustees and caretakers of the planet for a given amount of time before we hand on to the next generation – alongside sharing our knowledge, our mistakes and our solutions. Some papers state this and requires enormous changes in thinking, policy, and basic assumptions about the economy for its full implementation. But for me it all boils down to honesty, transparency and communication. We are all interdependent, so come on guys less of the greenwashing, less of the competition over community in this. Change and eco consciousness isn’t a game of who shouts loudest about the good, its about how we create solutions for the bad. Why? Because while its not the sexiest, most Instagram friendly thing – it’s the right thing to do.
So heres my line in the sand;
Part One, the manifesto.
Yogi Bare’s Internal Manifesto and commitment to a sustainable future:
Sustainability is at the top of every meeting agenda
We will continuously audit, challenge and seek alternatives for or remove materials within our current range by 2024.
We will challenge and ask any new retailers or studios about their commitment to sustainability. If they need guidance in their journey we will help them. This goes beyond our range. We will advise them and educate in any means necessary.
Any new product development will have sustainability at its core. If it cannot live up to our self imposed standards we will not proceed until it can.
We will share and document all changes, learnings and our personal journey to help others and be transparent within our community.
We will always be open and not use alienating terminology in conveying our messages. Learning should be accessible and our doors will always be open to questions and challenges.
We aim to implement closed loop processes.
Sustainability isn’t just in the manufacturing and process of creation. We will always look to solutions and repurposing of existing products within the yoga industry – ours and others.
Until next time,
Kat. Founder Yogi Bare.
NEW ENTRY - DEC 2022
BE KIND YOU CAN’T REWIND. BUT YOU CAN REPURPOSE
It's our mission at Yogi Bare to protect Mother Earth while educating on materials. So when thinking about ways to take care of the planet which gives us life it got us thinking. How can we give our mats a new life? When you have poured so much love, tenderness & good energy into your mat and are ready to replace yours… what do we do with all that sweetness? How can we put that good to work?
As a team we brainstorm and research this most weeks. Our Whatsapp group is full of experiments, photos of ideas and suggestions. Every now and then one of them gets us really excited.
Introducing our solution: The Yogi Bare Yoga Mat Recycling Scheme.
Working with Safer Surfacing & their mission to recycle one of the worlds most commonly wasted and toughest materials – rubber! Taking your old rubber yoga mats, together we will transform them into high quality rubber chipping that is used for JOY! Creating safe surfaces for play areas and parks to help prevent injuries in tumbles and falls, helping cities bloom creating parks and gardens, protecting hooves in equestrian centres and giving those coops the eggs- factor for chicken runs & roofing.
We take responsibility by recycling your worn mat to ensure we do not create any additional waste for our planet and to keep them out of landfills. When you send your mat for recycling we will email you a 15% off code to use against the purchase of a new one. (Please note: we'll accept ANY brand of yoga mat that uses PU rubber.)
We believe in paying Joy forward. Like all well loved, well used, well worn sports items if you practice hard enough, for long enough, over time your Yoga Mat will wear down. It’s a draw of using a more conscious material like PU rubber.
Just as running trainers eventually you will have to replace your fitness equipment.
You might have found your practice on your Yoga mat enhanced your life … but what how do we enhance the life of the mat.
Instead of throwing it away we wanted to give it a meaningful second life. Our Mat Recycle scheme marks the start of our purposeful mission to create with intention, always thinking about the secondary lifecycle. Because the choices we make today matter for the planets future life cycle.
Oh green washing! No it’s not the latest Tshirt tie dying trend … although sadly its definitely trending.
At Yogi Bare we like to believe in honesty and transparency hence starting this diary to share everything we are learning and working on when it comes to sustainability. We believe that through openness and admitting when things aren’t perfect we can make genuine progress and “call a spade a spade” as it were. Rather than using the spade to bury reality and pretend things are greener than they are.
We now live in an age where green values and environmental choices are a hygiene factor and an expectation for businesses. But sadly this is leading to many companies manipulating the system and their consumers and using convoluted marketing terms and green synonyms when the products don’t match up to this. Gosh with the energy, time and expense going into some of these Greenwashing campaigns these companies could actually fix and solve the issues!
The masking and prolonging of Greenwashing is more damaging for the environment as the more false knowledge prevails in the industry, media and even manufacturers … the longer this cycle continuous.
And its not all deceptive, new brands or old brands wanting to do the right thing are building upon untrue information that are being touted as facts. They feel pressure to match up to the information and say the same things but its like building upon sand.
I have to admit that even I believed in certain material choices … until I rolled my sleeves up and started questioning everything and doing my research. It takes time and effort but we are here to help and provide resources and things to look for.
So don’t be disheartened if you have been hoodwinked by the shiny, expensive excellent marketing ploys and packaging techniques using words such as ethical, green and sustainable when the companies products are not. This is greenwashing.
But its not all bad news, eco warriors are fighting back. The rise of social media giving voices and platforms for information to spread quickly has meant people are being upheld to the truth. On a more professional level the EU is beginning to introduce accountability legislation to ensure mistruths or unverified claims aren’t being used to sell. This is a great start but there will always be corporations that put profit over people and planet and will abuse the system … finding loopholes and utilising the fact that we don’t have a blanket board of legislation globally. Personally I believe that that is the only way to resolve this – one set of rules for one entire planet. In the mean time we can educate ourselves and make good choices.
Here are our top tips to Recognise Greenwashing.
- Advertising Campaign that says all the BIG! SEXY! ECO! GREEN! Words … but can’t prove the source, doesn’t provide any further or clear information to back it up or just doesn’t make sense in relation to the product or the rest of the company AKA pretty little thing … thank you next!
- Do your research and ask questions. You don’t have to be perfect to be progressive. Just look at us! Its one of the reasons we are publicly sharing where we are currently at, what we are actively doing and where we want to go and how we are working our way there. Admitting your mistakes or knowledge blind spots is step one. And far better than burying it under green washed terms.
- Education! There’s some great books and authentic directories out there to look companies up with ease. Some of our favourite books and accounts and directories include:
- There is No Planet B
- Venetia La Manna – sustainability activist on Instagram
- There is a really good app called Good on You that has information on how sustainable the brands are
- The following Instagram accounts @labourbehindthelabel@cleanclothescampaignand @remakeourworld
- B Corp Directory
- Third party verification. There’s only so far a bunch of jazzy adjectives will get you if they haven’t got authentic back up. Check the website or packaging for actual details of the source, working conditions, sustainability manifesto and certificates. If a company has nothing to hide or understands their product/industry then they’ll be happy to talk.
- And finally there’s some great bodies who conduct rigorous tests and reports before awarding their certifications to “prove” eco credentials. These cannot simply be bought and are evidence of the company bearing this mark having been audited and evaluated. B Corp and Eco Age are a good place to start.