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The cork used in our yoga products is a 100% renewable and recyclable material that is obtained through one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting methods in the world.
What is cork and where is it grown? Cork is the outer bark of the Cork Oak Tree which grows in the Mediterranean area. Cork trees are the only tree in the world that regenerates stripped bark. Approximately 6.6 million acres of cork forest extend across Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France. These oak forests support one of the world's highest levels of forest biodiversity, second only to the Amazonian Rainforest.
How is cork harvested? Not a single tree is cut down to harvest cork, rather, the bark is stripped by hand every 9 years. Cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark, and a harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more [carbon dioxide] than one that isn’t harvested. Additionally, no bark is wasted during the cork production process, and the residue is granulated to make other cork products and even cork dust is used for fuel. Harvested cork oak trees can live up to 300 years. Harvesting cork is performed completely by hand and provides over 100,000 jobs. Some entire communities in Africa derive a sustainable annual income from the cork harvest.
Our Original and Native cork yoga mats utilize recycled rubber in their construction through a zero-waste process. All of our production scrap is automatically collected and recycled back into the system so nothing goes to waste.
Because tires are highly durable and non-biodegradable, they can consume valued space in landfills. In 1990, it was estimated that over 1 billion scrap tires were in stockpiles in the United States. As of 2015, only 67 million tires remain in stockpiles. We are proud to help contribute to reducing tires in our landfills.
There have been questions that have arisen in the past few years that question the safety of recycled rubber, more specifically the loose recycled rubber chips that can be found on playgrounds. A number of states and associations have conducted tests and released reports to help clear up any misconceptions related to recycled rubber safety. The EPA also performed tests on rubber and published results in December 2009 on their website in an article titled, The Use of Recycled Tire Materials on Playgrounds & Artificial Turf Field. The summary of results stated, "On average, the concentrations of components monitored in this study were below levels of concern." All of these tests and studies confirm that surfacing made from recycled rubber is safe for the environment and for the communities that use them. It is unequivocal that exposure to recycled rubber products poses NO risk to adults, children, or pets.
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-The Willey Family