22 januari 2014

Earth loving... through excessive plastic packaging!?

Beste Nederlandse lezers, excuses voor een stukje in het Engels. Dat doe ik omdat ik deze keer schrijf over een product van een buitenlands bedrijf. Volgende keer schrijf ik weer in het Nederlands.

This year I will be traveling extensively. I find traveling interesting but also physically demanding. Being away from home I tend to eat less healthy food and neglect my work out schedule. For once I would like to stay fit while traveling. My usual work out schedule consists of running, biking and gym exercises (at home). Since I am not sure to what extent my destination allows me to continue running and biking, I definitely intend to continue doing my gym exercises at home. 

My usual excuse for skipping my exercises while on the road is not having an exercise mat. Therefore I recently started looking for such a mat on the internet. It must be durable, light, foldable, yet comfortable and produced in an sustainable way. It did not take long before I landed at the Manduka homepage.

Manduka is a brand that specializes in yoga gear. They sell yoga mats, towels, bags, and more. On Manduka's well-designed website, they give the impression that their products are totally green and sustainable. The travel mat that I am after just seems perfect. It is even called "eKO SuperLite Travel Mat". Wow. Green, light and made for traveling. Exactly what I am looking for:
"The newest addition to the eKO Collection of biodegradable natural rubber mats, the eKO SuperLite is the best yoga mat for yogis on the go, providing superior grip on carpet or hard surfaces, yet weighs only about 2 lbs. and folds to fit easily in your travel bag, suitcase or purse! These eco yoga mats are made of a natural, biodegradable material that won't flake or fade like other mats on the market. The eKO SuperLite will leave no footprint in landfills, and is the ideal yoga travel mat for people who want to make a commitment to our planet and take their yoga practice on the road."
Wow again. That sounds fabulous. Too bad the mat was sold out.

So I waited a few weeks till the mat was available again and then ordered it. 

My policy for online shopping is that I only shop if the package is send to me without using any plastic. If not, I place my order elsewhere or simply shop downtown. To be sure, I usually contact the store before I order anything. However, since the entire Manduka website breathes sustainability, I assumed they must have a plastic policy similar to mine. So in the process of ordering this mat rather than sending a pre-order email, I asked in the comments field to not use any plastic in my package. I also required that if this was for some reason not possible, that they would contact me so that I could reconsider my order.

Yesterday the package arrived. Considering I ordered a foldable! yoga mat that is 180 cm long and 60 cm wide and only weighs about 1 kg, I was a little surprised about the size and weigh of my package (1,7 kg!). 


The package had loads of tape on it. I was a little disappointed, but since their green promises online and my zero-plastic request, I expected inside the box it would be fine.

It wasn't. 


Not only did the mat come with loads of tape, the mat itself was wrapped in plastic! And not only one layer of plastic, but TWO. The inner plastic being even thicker than the outer layer.



"This packaging is made from recycled plastic" is no excuse. There is simply no need for a (second) wrapper. If one would want to use a wrapper at all, I would suggest one made of a non-plastic, natural material that can be re-used whenever I roll and transport my mat.

Ironically, the inner layer of plastic says:
"Earth loving"
and 
"eKO"
and 
"eco friendly"
Sending so much plastic while "wanting to make a commitment to our planet", I am not sure how to interpret their claims about the mat itself: "free of toxic chemicals" and "made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber". How sustainable are you really if you send thick plastic that is completely unnecessary and unwanted by the customer? No more Manduka purchases for me.

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