Eliza Coolsma teaches yoga in Madrid, where she founded and continues to run The Natural Yogi. Some of my happiest memories of Madrid are of doing outdoor yoga in the Retiro Park with Eliza, who is truly a wonderful teacher and human.
Eliza was kind enough to answer some questions about yoga wear and sustainability. Her answers reveal how complicated this topic can get:
What does sustainability mean to you?
Many things! Trying to make a positive impact instead of a negative impact. It’s hard because every action you take in a way pollutes; just being alive is already polluting. At the same time, trying to make people so aware that they are nature, not something apart from nature. Nature is not something you visit. When people learn to connect with their bodies by practicing yoga on a deeper level, they start to feel that they are a part of nature.
What do you wear to practice yoga?
Of course, it’s always best to use what you already have. The problem is I use these yoga clothes so much – I will wear them from morning all the way through til the evening. So, I had leggings and tops that became really see-through, or they just became beyond repair.
I have some three-year-old legging from a Spanish brand called Shambala that’s not perfect but is more sustainable. I think they’re made out of Tencel. I’ve been using it a lot and it actually lasts, so I’m very happy with that. And I have a recently new leggings from a German brand Mandala that are really, really sustainably produced. I hope to use the leggings for many years.
Do you buy second hand yoga clothes?
Yes! Whenever people ask me about yoga clothes, I always say, ‘Please see if you can get them second hand’. My very minimal yoga wardrobe includes some black leggings I got from Vinted. The dilemma I was experiencing was that if I wanted things to be sustainable in terms of lasting for a long time, they would have to be a very polluting fabric, because cotton would literally last two months. So, I thought maybe the solution was owing a guppy bag and then buying second hand Lululemon leggings. If I buy it second hand, at least it hasn’t been produced for me. But then people would ask me where I’d bought my cute yoga pants; I realised I’m kind of promoting Lululemon, which is not good for the planet or people at all.
Eliza’s dilemmas illustrate how difficult it is to make ‘the right’ choice as a consumer who’s concerned about sustainability. There are so many factors to consider: Is a natural, organic material better than a recycled but synthetic one? Is it best to buy leggings that have been made locally, or some made in a developing nation where workers are paid a living wage that helps to lift them out of poverty? Is purchasing something second hand best, even if the preloved item comes from non-sustainable brand? Arrrrrgh! Weighing up all the options is enough to make you want to give up and just go to Primark. (But please don’t!)
I’ll be doing a series of blog posts that will get into these dilemmas in detail. However, the rule of thumb from a sustainability point of view is to buy something that will last and be worn over and over, as Eliza says. Every new purchase creates an environmental impact of some sort, whether in the form of water used to grow cotton, carbon emissions created by the production of polyester, chemicals used to dye clothes, or carbon emitted when products are transported from factories to warehouses and then ultimately to you. So, the synthetic leggings you wear 100 times almost definitely work out better for the environment than the cotton ones you only wear a few times.
Sustainable fashion essentially means minimising the amount of new clothes we’re responsible for (something I definitely haven’t always been good at, or even thought much about until recently). My ideal these days is buying yoga wear that’s second hand and that will last.
Thanks so much to Eliza for sharing her minimal yoga wardrobe secrets.
Thanks to you for reading
#yoga #sustainablefashion #preloved #ethicalfashion #sustainability #30wears