Study on the sustainability of the bYo yoga mat

How sustainable is our yoga mat bYo? An idea that has played a decisive role for us from the very beginning. Reason enough for us to have the 100 percent cork yoga mat examined more closely. The results on the CO₂ footprint made us very proud. But from the front.

Every day we encounter the word "sustainability" because it plays an increasingly important role in the media, in politics and in advertising. No wonder: because environmental awareness is increasingly moving from being an individual lifestyle to becoming a social movement. It is inevitable that companies will declare their products as "sustainable" - even if this is perhaps not true at all.

yoga and sustainability

When we dealt with the topic of yoga mats, we quickly realized how little sustainability is anchored in the yoga scene. It actually surprised us even more negatively how often mats are praised as "sustainable" when ultimately they are not. Reason enough for us to take a closer look behind it. How sustainable is our bYo yoga mat? We wanted to know exactly and commissioned a scientific study to determine the CO₂ footprint of our yoga mat in comparison to other products.

The study setting 
In addition to CO₂, there are other greenhouse gases (including methane, nitrous oxide) whose effect on the warming of the earth's atmosphere is converted into the equivalent amount of CO₂ so that the warming effect of a greenhouse gas mixture can be specified by a single number. 
Consideration of the CO2 equivalents
This value is called CO₂e, which we also used as the basis for the result of the study. All the steps in production were taken into account, starting with the employees' journey to work, energy consumption at the workplace, the material used, right through to shipping the finished goods.
Comparison with other materials
In addition, the emissions from yoga mats with different materials such as PVC, TPE, latex and cork were determined in comparison to the bYo yoga mat. The country in which the product was manufactured was taken into account. In the case of different sources for emission values ​​of the same type, the value was used that demonstrably has a higher negative or lower positive influence and this is explained accordingly. All values ​​are given with citation for reference.
Properties of the material cork

The special feature of the material cork is that it is not the wood of the trees that is used, but only the bark.

The bark is harvested for the first time after about 25 years, then regularly every 8-9 years. 1 Various studies assume that for every ton of cork harvested, 70 tons of CO₂ are bound in the atmosphere. 2 Another study, UAB 2011, assumes a much lower value, but with 18 kg bound CO₂ per kg harvested cork, still with a clearly negative CO₂ balance. 3

In principle, sequestration is taken into account in the results of these studies. This means that the CO₂ effect of the entire cork forest is included in the calculations. According to another study, however, it is questionable whether and to what extent sequestration should be taken into account.

As a result, this study comes to the conclusion that the value from the UAB study is set too high by a factor of 3.6 to 4.5. 4 

We agree with this reasoning in order to get the most meaningful result possible. For example, allocation must be taken into account, which means that the area of ​​the cork forest could also be used for other purposes. Ultimately, however, it remains the case that harvesting the cork oak leads to up to three times more CO₂ being bound than if the cork bark were not harvested. 

The material alone is not decisive

Thus we first have the results of the pure material. In addition, there are many other factors such as energy consumption during production, transport routes, packaging and much more. Our values ​​take these factors into account and lead to interesting results. 

The weight of origin

Most of the world market production comes from China and is transported by sea. Due to the immensely high loading capacities of container ships, the relative CO₂ share per kg of freight is comparatively low, although the total CO₂ emissions of a container ship are immense.

Transport routes

How do you weight the high total output compared to the low output per kg of product? It becomes difficult to find the right approach, but when comparing different transport routes, we used the supposedly cheaper one per kg of freight (this means that we classified products from Asia as even cheaper in comparison, although in our opinion the lower value depending kg of cargo is not necessarily an indication that the sea route is sustainable). 

The bYo yoga mat is sustainably and gently manufactured in Portugal. This is ideal because the natural material is processed directly at the harvest site. The short transport routes lead to a further improved result.

bYo is carbon negative!

With a value of -4.93 kg CO₂ we are carbon negative. To explain: A product is CO₂-neutral if the amount of emissions that it releases into the atmosphere corresponds to the amount of CO₂ emissions that it removes from the atmosphere. The influence is neutral, zero. The so-called "carbon negative" goes one step further: Because "carbon negative" is a product at the time when the amount of emissions removed from the atmosphere is greater than the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere. The latter applies to our bYo yoga mat.

With the result, we feel confirmed in our values ​​of developing sports products in harmony with our environment.





Further references

International Energy Administration. 2008. "CO₂ Emissions from Fuel Combustion" ISSN 1683-4291.

International Panel on Climate Change. 2006. "2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories."