ZONE By Lydia Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat

From Trees to Mats: A Look at the Sustainable Production Process of our Cork Yoga Mats

  • By Hunter DeRusha
  • Mar 30

How is ZONE Cork Yoga Mat made?

Transparency and sustainability are at the forefront of everything that we do at ZONE and we are proud to be working towards a more sustainable future with our design, manufacturing, retail and partnership processes. We are always curious about the origins of the materials we use and get excited about how these raw materials are turned into functional products. How exactly is a is a cork yoga mat made? Is a cork yoga mat really that sustainable?

Cork to Yoga Mats | ZONE By Lydia Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat

Where does cork and natural rubber come from?

At ZONE we only choose the most eco-friendly options available to us when sourcing our products and we believe the combination of cork and natural rubber are the best materials to use for a yoga mat. Before we manufacture any product, we like to know where our materials come from and ensure that they are ethically sourced with minimal environmental impact. When is comes to creating a sustainable yoga mat, we couldn't go past the use of cork and natural rubber which are both high in durability and free from harmful chemicals. Being natural materials, they are also considered to have a lighter carbon footprint on the Earth.

Cork ~ Quercus suber

There are many benefits to using cork for our ZONE Yoga mats, including its antibacterial qualities, its soft natural grip and non-slip texture and the sustainable way that cork is harvested.

Cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees (Quercus suber), which are native to the Mediterranean region. Our cork comes from Portugal - one of the World's largest producers of cork. 

cork tree

How Is Cork Bark Harvested?

The bark of the cork oak tree is harvested without harming the tree or damaging the forest ecosystem. The first harvest takes place when the tree is around 25 years old, and the bark will then be harvested every ten years or so until the tree is around 200 years old.

To harvest cork, a special tool called a cork axe is used to carefully remove the outer layer of bark from the trunk and branches of the tree. The bark is then left to dry for several months before it is boiled to remove any impurities and flattened into sheets. These sheets can be used to make a wide range of products, including our beloved cork yoga mats.

Cork to Yoga Mat Process | Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat

Is Cork Sustainable?

Cork trees are drought resistant and therefor requires very little water. They also have a high carbon sequestration rate, which means they capture and store a high volume of carbon dioxide, which naturally reduces the amount in the atmosphere.

Cork bark is harvested every 7 to 10 years and by harvesting the bark, it actually makes the cork grow back stronger and thicker so that the tree is able to photosynthesise more carbon dioxide. Each year cork oak forests are estimated to retain around 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The way the bark is harvested means that cork oak trees can live for hundreds of years, and the cork forests provide a valuable habitat for many animals and other plants, making them an essential part of the ecosystem and a valuable renewable resource. Cork is a brilliant material to use for yoga mats and yoga props like our cork yoga blocks and cork massage balls. It has perfect cushioning, is naturally anti-microbial and has a soft natural grip that increases with moisture (thanks to a naturally occurring compound called suberin). You can also activate the suberin by wiping down your yoga mat with a damp cloth before practice.

Natural Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis)

The black extra-grippy underside of our ZONE cork yoga mats are made of natural rubber. Natural rubber is a material that comes from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), which is native to the Amazon rainforest in South America.

How is Natural Rubber Harvested?

The sap is collected by making small cuts in the bark of the tree, which allows the milky white liquid to flow out into a container. The sap is then filtered to remove any impurities and mixed with an acid to coagulate the rubber particles.

The coagulated rubber is then rolled into sheets and dried before it is ready to be used. The first harvest from a rubber tree is usually when the tree is about 6 years old, and the tree will continue to produce sap for about 25 to 30 years before its productivity declines and it is rested to become part of the natural ecosystem or in some cases, used as timber.

Is Natural Rubber Sustainable?

Although the harvesting of rubber sap is considered sustainable, there are some environmental concerns around rubber plantations. The clearing of natural forests to create the plantations can lead to habitat loss and biodiversity decline, especially since rubber trees are often grown in monoculture plantations, where other crops or trees are not present.

However, there is a growing industry to counteract the concerns around biodiversity with the introduction of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into the crops to create a more diverse and sustainable ecosystem. Rubber trees can be grown alongside other crops such as coffee, cocoa, or bananas and with other tree species that provide ecosystem benefits to improve the quality of the soil and surrounding landscape.

To make sure that natural rubber is produced in a sustainable and ethical manner, it is important to choose products that are certified by organisations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Rainforest Alliance. At ZONE, we ensure that all of our products are ethically sourced to have a positive effect on the habitat and the surrounding communities.

ZONE By Lydia Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat


How Our Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats are Made?

Our yoga mats are designed in Australia and manufactured in China. Our founder, Lydia Lassila, visited our manufacturers this year to get to know them and observe the process of how our yoga mats are made.

The raw cork is first broken into granules and bound together using a food grade mastic. The cork is then rolled into a leather before being laminated to natural rubber base using heat and steam. The natural rubber base ensures your mat is a non-slip mat and is very grippy on any surface. You can also use the rubber side when you want extra grip during your yoga practice.

Once laminated, the cork yoga mats are then quality checked and cut to size. Our cork yoga mats do not contain harmful chemicals or glues and are PVC, latex and phthalate free. Our designs are then printed on the cork surface of the yoga mat using UV printing. UV printing is an eco-friendly printing method as it uses UV-curable inks that do not contain harmful solvents, making it a safer and more sustainable option for both the environment and the users.The UV printing process ensures durability and longevity, making the prints resistant to fading, scratching, and other damages.

Once printed, our cork yoga mats are packaged in sustainable, plastic free cardboard shipping tubes that can shipped straight out to you minimising pointless packaging. 

cork yoga mat

Cork Yoga Mats: The Perfect Choice for Yoga

We believe that by understanding the origins of our products, where they come from and how these sustainable materials are harvested, it helps our yogis and customers make informed choices for themselves and for the planet.

We hope this helps you take a moment to appreciate the natural origins and beauty of these raw materials and the important role they play in creating our cork mats and cork yoga range.

If you're an eco-conscious yogi looking for a non-slip mat made from natural cork and rubber, you've come to the right place. Shop our cork yoga mats and enjoy our beautiful designs made from natural materials with free shipping Australia wide.

ZONE By Lydia Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat

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