Surfer By Day, World-Saving Yogi By Night

Written by Taylor Johaneman, ESLLC 2015-2016

When the word “recycle” comes up in conversation or in text, the first thoughts that come to mind are recycling plastic bottles and paper.  People tend to think that recycling is only paper, glass, and plastic, when in reality, it can be almost anything.  Many items can be melted or torn apart into other shapes and sizes when they come to the “end” of their life.

A creative surfer in California, Brian Shields, is taking recycling to a whole new level.  He is the owner of a business, Süga, that recycles old wetsuits into yoga mats.  Shields came about this idea when he couldn’t figure out what to do with his old non-biodegradable wetsuit.  He figured that the best thing to do, both for himself, a fellow yogi, and for the struggling environment, was to shape the old wetsuit into a yoga mat.  So, he created the company, Süga, and started making the “SügaMats”.

Not only are SügaMats good for the environment, as this reduces their presence in landfills, but they are also good for the health of the people who use them.  SügaMats are made solely of neoprene-based wetsuits, whereas a majority of other yoga mats contain several unpleasant chemicals, which include azodicarbonamide, PVCs, lead, and cadmium.  These chemicals have previously been deemed dangerous to the health of humans.  For example, azodicarbonamide is a chemical that was used in the production of Subway’s bread…until it was banned last year.  PVC, which also goes by the name polyvinyl chloride, is a chemical that has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems.  The only chemical in SügaMats that is slightly concerning is dialkyl thioureas, a chemical in wetsuits, that is linked to allergic contact dermatitis.

In all, SügaMats has created a “win-win” situation.  The environment is benefitting and the people who use SügaMats are benefitting as well.  Also, surfers, most of whom are deeply connected to the environment, will feel good whenever they have to ditch their wetsuits.  Companies such as Süga may help people think more about what recycling actually means and will allow people to pursue their passion without harming the environment.



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