INTERVIEW: Two ambitious ladies making yoga mats from waste. And how you can be a part of it, too!

I came across an article about Anna's and Sophie's quest to produce a zero waste yoga mat a few days ago and I found it very inspiring.

Their project hejhej-mats is currently crowdfunding on Startnext and with the funding goal of 20,000 € hopefully achieved, they we will be able, as in their own words, make the year 2018 a little more sustainable. I contacted the girls curious to learn more about their contribution to a more sustainable life.

You both are yogis; since when have you been practicing yoga and what is the type of yoga that you practice?

We both started practicing yoga a few years ago. Our practice got really intense over the last year though, when we spent a year in Sweden for our Master programme in Leadership for Sustainability. The Swedish winter is quite dark and harsh and it made us spent a lot of time in the yoga studio. Mostly, we practice vinyasa yoga, but we like to vary the practice with a little hatha yoga.

Anna (left) and Sophie (right) are the brains and passion behind the hejhej-mats. (P: Elina Nomad)

How was the idea for hej-hej mats born?

The idea for hejhej-mats was born in Sweden, while doing our Master programme in Leadership for Sustainability. We visited an exhibition that dealt with globalisation, growing consumerism and other topics related to sustainability. In one artwork by the Turkish Artist Pinar Yoldas, yoga practitioners got accused of acting hypocritically as they often think they live a sustainable lifestyle but then practice yoga on a really unsustainable plastic mat. We both got touched as we also believed we live a sustainable lifestyle but have not thought about the consequences of our yoga mat before. From this day on, we started to develop a sustainable yoga mat and we put every free minute into the development of hejhej-mats.

The design symbolises the use of recycled materials. ''We purposely decided not to add any colours or patterns, as we got very much inspired by the Swedish design which is very minimalistic as well. Also, we want to speak to women and men at the same time. What we probably most like about our design is that the use of recycled materials will make every mat unique in its appearance. So everyone who purchases a hejhej-mats will get a one of a kind yoga mat.'' - Anna & Sophie (P: Elina Nomad)

How does the process of the mat making look like? Where do you get your waste from and where does the production take place?

We have two partner factories that are involved in the production process of hejhej-mats. Both are located in Germany. The first factory we partnered up with is settled in the foaming production for many years and is already experienced with the use of recycled materials. It produces the core of our yoga mats.

For the production, we are making use of their factory’s own cut-offs and the residues from additional factories that for example produce mattresses or furniture. Our second partner factory is residing in the medical industry and we chose them because they are producing a paper-thin top layer for our yoga mats that is free from any harmful substances and on top, super slip resistant. The top layer and the core are getting assembled in our first factory and together become our hejhej-mats which are good for the planet and for your yoga practice.

Mats are produced with pre-consumer waste that occurs in the foaming production. Pre-consumer basically means that this type of waste has not been at the consumer’s side but still has the highest quality criteria since they are only cut-offs. (P: Elina Nomad)

You use the expression closed loop mat. What does it mean?

The expression “closed-loop” means that we are operating in a circle. In contradiction to current productions processes which are linear. Linear production means to take new resources to make a product. If it is not used anymore, it gets thrown away and ends up as waste somewhere. In the best case, a circular production makes use of resources that already exist on the planet in abundance, such as the pre-consumer waste we use for our yoga mats.

You’ll use the product as long as you can, but then, instead of simply throwing it away, you’ll give it back to us. This enables us to make use of the resources your yoga mat was made of again, to produce a new mat. A circular production can go on for a long time without the necessity to take any virgin materials from the planet and it does not produce any waste.

'The name hejhej-mats has its origin in Sweden and symbolises our strong connection to this country. Hej hej is the Swedish greeting and we chose it to welcome the second life we are giving the resources used with our yoga mats. Additionally, we like the repetition of the word “hej” as it symbolises our repetitive use of resources.'' - Anna & Sophie (P: Elina Nomad)

You are currently in the process of crowdfunding. Your goal is to collect 20,000 EUR in order to bring the hej-hej mat project to its final point. Are you optimistic to achieve the goal set?

We just reached the halftime of our crowdfunding time and we also got half of the amount yet, which makes us feel quite optimistic to reach our goal in time. However, it is still a lot of money to collect.

We are hoping that many more people find our mats appealing in the next two weeks, so they’ll go to our startnext page and pre-order one of our yoga mats. The Early Bird yoga mat Vol. 2 is cheaper than the retail price and shipping costs are also included. However, our mats are limited so make sure you order your hejhej-mats fast. There are also different rewards such as a really cool sustainable tote bag, choose one of our rewards that suits you best and help us move one step closer to the realization of our sustainable start-up. What also makes us optimistic is all the support we got from so many people who shared our project with their family, friends and fellow yogis.

Anna's & Sophie's tips

for a chilled body and mind:

- yoga

- meditation

- conscious eating

- spending time with loved ones

- long walks in the nature

(P: Elina Nomad)

Current yoga music favorite (which I love and am adding to my playlist):

#hejhejmats #yoga #yogamat #sustainable #zerowaste #shamelessyoga

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Illustrations by: Lea Zupancic (