To cork or not to cork that is the question ?
Practicing yoga is a crucial part of many people’s daily healthy routine along with a balanced diet and hopefully a balanced life style. While considering all the factors of which mat to choose… I asked myself Cork or PVC? The answer was quite clear for me.
For many the choice of a mat is very personal, we want to find something that is comfortable, provides enough grip and obviously has more benefits to it while considering the environment around us. I did a bit of research on cork yoga mats to find out the benefits of it to using a PVC mat and I was quite taken back as to my findings.
Before we get into the dirty truth about PVC let take a look at the history of cork and where it comes from. I found this most interesting. So, as we know just about every tree has a outer layer of cork on it, but the cork oak tree is the main supplier of cork in the world. These trees mainly run along the Mediterranean coast line, where their is lots of sunshine, very little rainfall and the humidity is rather high.Cork has a very thick layer of bark, and the reason for this is because it has had to protect its self through the harsh conditions that it lives in. The area of which it lives can experience frequent droughts and high temperatures.
Cork is made up of water-resistant cell that are able to separate the outer bark from the inner making the inner bark very delicate. Cork has a very unique property in it that has not been found in any other naturally plant.Cork is light weight, it doesn’t rot, it’s fire resistant, termite resistant, antimicobial, self cleaning ,soft and buoyant …. all of these properties make for perfect use of wine bottle stoppers and even more so CORK yoga mats.
Cork needs to grow for about 25 years before it can be harvested. After a cork tree has been stripped it must wait 8-14 years before it can be stripped of the cork again. Only 50% of the cork is removed during harvest allowing the tree to carry on bearing cork. Harvesting occurs during June, July and August. Cork is removed with a long hatchet in long strips to avoid damaging the tree. When the cork is removed in sections the inner .layer needs to be taken care of or the tree could get damaged.When cork is harvested it is taken to be boiled and cleaned so that the cork softens and makes it easier to work with. No harmful products are used in this process and the cork is kept in its most natural state .
In the light of knowing this let me share with you why cork is such a fantastic product when it comes to using it as a yoga mat, and then we can look at the hard truths about PVC mats and you might think twice about it.
Here are a few facts I found about cork:
Forr many people out their , perspiring is a big factor. Some have to use towels on their mats to absorb any excess water. Well cork is able to absorb water and so the sweater you get the more grip pier the mat becomes.Cork is warm on the feet and is able to insulate heat and cold
.Corks unique cellular structure has plenty cells enclosed with a gaseous substance that provides for a more comfortable surface and gives you that soft feeling under your feet and on your joints. Cork is antimicrobile which does not allow it to mold and hold dust and allows it to be self cleaning.Cork is easy to clean and no toxic chemicals are used when cleaning it. It has a good life span depending on how it is used for a product. For me this was the most important , that the cork tree can be harvested without harming the tree and only 50% of the cork is removed from the tree during harvest allow it to recover and produce more.It is biodegradable and it does not release any harmful toxins . The most important is it’s kept in its most natural form.
Right, so those are the few facts on cork and now let me tell you about PVC . PVC is is fantastic for market products such as PVC yoga mats specifically for its grip., durability and of course let’s not forget the price…. unfortunately their is just no way for it to breakdown and be destroyed naturally.
For many yoga mats, they are made of PVC which contains many chemicals like Phthalates and these allow the PVC to be more flexible. Phthalate are exposed more during warmer weather conditions like those found in hot yoga studios. So think of this when you are attending a yoga session outside or indoors? Phthalate particles like to cling to dust and I turn can then be inhaled. PVC isn’t use in the yoga mats, it’s in fact in many other products such as children’s toys, shower curtains, IV clinic bags and many more to list. That new car smell on your new PVC YOGA MAT is actually the smell of the plastic once it has been softened with the phthalate. Not sure how to feel?
At this point I’m starting to really think just how incredible bad it is for me and my health.
PVC has always been the first choice for the use of a yoga mat, one being it’s flexible and two it’s the cheapest plastic option, without considering just how harmful it is to people’s health while promoting a healthy life style which seems rather contradictory to me and the lack of though towards the environment as it’s is unable to degrade and gives off harmful toxins.
Considering that cork is kept in its most natural form it seems that the only thing a PVC mat can do is cause more harm to us. THe PVC mat releases toxic chemicals and is more toxic during ever stage of its life cycle. These toxic fumes are inhaled by us and during its disposal. PVC in its natural form as said previously is not suitable to any product and has to have plasticizers added to soften it, even worse, heavy metals such as led are added to make it more durable. The phthalate chemicals have been linked to birth defects, asthma, nerve development problems , fertility issues as well the well known “C” word Cancer. At this point I just want to get my PVC mat and cut it up into a thousand pieces.
so with all the evidence…. you decide…. cork or PVC? Have you made the right choice when considering which mat you use along with your health.?