Christa is the Founder of ZOLO Wellness a startup wellness brand that has just launched their new sustainable ZOLO Active Mats made from cork and recycled rubber.
Christa where did this amazing idea come from?
I love Yoga. I especially love hot yoga and practice almost everyday. I was sick of being in the studios where only a towel was provided to put over your plastic mat to prevent you from slipping.
First of all, the towel didn’t cover the area of the mat, so there would always be a crease under your mat. It made the practice harder, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is when the form is incorrect.
Secondly, I grew up in Hong Kong. I love being outside – in the park, the beach, the mountains. But the weather in Hong Kong is just so changeable. One minute it will be super sunny and the next it is pouring. When it starts to rain halfway through your practice, you either keep going – slipping, or, you have to stop and leave.
Why are you using cork rather than the usual plastic?
Having studied and worked in the hospitality industry, I have seen so much wastage of cork in the restaurants and hotels. Why? Probably because they don’t know where or how to recycle, or simply can’t be bothered. Without even knowing the tremendous benefits, I started collecting cork. My Mother is an artist and sometimes uses cork in her personal art projects. I also started seeing some cool accessories that were being made from cork, such a wallets, bags, shoes, as well as home décor for floors, lamps, chairs – you name it.
FUN FACT: Cork even serves NASA as a coating insulation protection on the tanks of their space shuttles!
Many people think of cork as just a wine stopper and little do they know of the plethoric benefits of this phenomenal material.
Not only does cork support the most environmentally friendly harvesting method in the world, it is perfect as an exercise / yoga mat. So I thought, “why not try and make a YOGA Mat made out of cork?”.
Tell us more about these Yoga Mats!!
The mats are made with 100% recycled rubber from Malaysia provide a bottom layer to the cork which is 100% naturally compressed and recycled. The cork comes from the Shaanxi Province of China – originating from the Cork Oak Tree – Quercus Variabilis.
As a result of our sustainable sourcing and use of natural materials our ZOLO Active Mats are:-
- Hypoallergenic – Many people complain of skin irritations from plastic mats such as PVC & TPE.
- Anti-microbial – Less likely to have odors, mold and bacterial growth (however we do provide a natural mat cleansing spray for extra care before and / or after practice)
- Grippier with sweat & water (perfect for a hot practice or in the rain)
- Dries quickly
- No trees were cut down in the cork bark cutting practice (the harvesting method is passed down from generation to generation). After the first 25 years of the Cork Oak Tree, the bark is eligible to be stripped every 9 years during the lifetime it has of about 200-300 years. A stripped Cork Oak Tree absorbs about 300-500% more CO2 than an unstripped tree. There are 2 species of Cork Oak Trees – Quercus Suber & Quercus Variabilis – we use the Quercus Variabilis found in Asia – China.
- Not hot to use in direct sunlight
- Easy to unroll & lays flat
Every mat comes with a ZOLO Mat Carry Strap and the all-natural 1oz. ZOLO Mat Cleansing Spray.
We are currently updating our website and background information in more detail. For now, you may find our crowdfunding campaign site on the platform SparkRaise. http://bit.ly/getzoloactive
ZOLO Wellness will soon be putting out a collection box in bars, restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong for recycling. In the future, we hope to make more products using recycled materials.
Great! Christa you clearly know a lot about this incredible process! Please tell our readers more:-
Certainly, the amazing thing about harvesting cork is that the tree has a lifetime of about 200-300 years. After the first 25 years, the bark of the cork tree is eligible to be stripped every 9 years – kind of like shearing sheep. The bark of the tree actually absorbs 300-500% more CO2 than un-stripped cork oak trees. Carbon footprint studies show that cork uses one of the most environmentally friendly harvesting methods in the world. Every single part of the cork is used for various purposes – even the fine particles of cork dust are collected and used as fuel to heat the factory boilers. This harvesting method is usually a family trade passed down from generation to generation. Not only do our mats support safe, environmentally–friendly materials, the cork material itself is host to plethoric benefits that are especially amazing for a yoga practice.
First of all, cork is composed of the substance, Suberin. This is a kind of waterproof waxy material which actually gives a better grip when you are dripping with sweat or water. For those especially with dry hands, we recommend spraying a bit of water before use. With every mat purchase, we provide a cleansing spray made from distilled water and essential oils, mixed on Nantucket Island, MA. This can be used to clean the mat or to spray before practice. It is so safe, that if you wanted, you could even use it as a body mist.
Initially, the cork mat could be a bit dry when you first open the package. I put mine in the bath for about a minute and started practicing in order to mold into my mat. The more I use the mat, the more comfortable it gets, especially with a little spray down. With the recycled rubber on the bottom, the mat was quite resilient and springy – not hard on the floor. The cork dries very fast when hung or laid flat and doesn’t get burning hot in direct sunlight.
Cork is also anti-microbial which means it naturally kills bacteria, mold and odor. Although, still, for extra hygiene, we do recommend using a soft towel to wipe the mat down with either water or our ZOLO mat cleansing spray.
Cork is also hypoallergenic. I have heard several complaints of people getting skin reactions from mats made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) materials. This is even worse when the mat has not been cleaned properly from before. Our ZOLO Active Mat is also great for kids as the materials are safe on most skin types.
The factory we use is certified by SGS – formerly known as Société Générale de Surveillance, headquartered in Geneva. This makes sure the products comply with global standards and regulations, covering the entire supply chain from raw materials to final consumption. Our products are also qualified for the Forest Stewardship Council – promoting responsible management of the world’s forests.
By using cork, we are actually helping the ecosystem in the cork forest. The cork forests have relatively dry land and are prone to desertification. The forests are home to many endangered species and biota or living organisms – (flora / fauna / fungi). The cork forests also play an important role in poverty alleviation, supplying employment and growth.