Mmm…algae. Slimy, sticky, creepy algae. Believe it or not, it’s the newest ingredient in your yoga mat and not only is it extremely renewable, it is in abundance, sometimes annoyingly so. While algae isn’t always our friend, it does play an important role in aquatic eco-systems, and not just when it’s a spirulina add-on for your energy smoothie.
What some scientists and eco-friendly manufacturing companies Algix and Effekt have figured out is that algae can also be used to create flexible foam material, which will soon be used in stuff like sneakers and, of course, yoga mats under a brand called Bloom. An algae-nius invention? “Pond scum never looked so good,” says the website.
The flexible foam is produced using a patented process that utilizes Algix’s dried algae biomass (GMO-free), which is solely collected from waste streams across the U.S. and Asia. Algal blooms have become prevalent worldwide due to a rise in global temperatures and a subsequent increase in water temperatures.
Algae biomass is a non-food resource, it doesn’t require any pesticides to grow and it is found in abundance globally. This should ensure a consistent and stable raw material supply for the foreseeable future.
We’re used to these rubbery “foams” being created synthetically which is neither sustainable nor too incredibly eco-friendly. “Flexible foams have been overwhelmingly made out of nonrenewable petrochemicals for decades,” says Rob Falken, Bloom Holding’s Managing Director. “Over the past year we’ve worked really hard to create a suitable algae biomass alternative that doesn’t compromise performance.”
Hey, as long as it’s sticky when we’re sweaty, we’re cool. We’d prefer it over Subway sandwich bread any day. (We know, they changed the ingredients.) Yoga mat technology has gotten interesting lately, and we’re seeing them being made from all kinds of materials from natural rubber to newly legalized hemp to robots(!) so why not algae? Don’t worry, the mats will come in other colors besides the standard issue lagoon green.
Production is scheduled for early 2016. Algae-nuinely give it a try.