Incorporating mindful practices to help sustain the environment.
Wendy Klein, the owner of Nandi Yoga in San Mateo, California, grew up with a father who was a passionate environmentalist. He instilled in her from early childhood the importance of creating a sustainable environment. On family trips, he would point out areas he was measuring the pollution rates of to help Klein understand their impact.
“If you drove from where we were from in the middle of New Jersey up to New York, you would pass these smoke stacks,” said Klein. “You couldn’t roll up your windows fast enough; it really smelled.”
After Klein realized the impact harmful chemicals had on the environment, she decided to make creating a sustainable environment one of her core values. She opened Nandi Yoga in 2008, when the push for going green was starting to ebb due to the recession, but still she persisted in creating a green business.
“Treading as lightly on the earth as possible is just as important to me as the Yamas and the Niyamas,” said Klein. “I only wanted to build this if I could build it the way I wanted to, and it had to be green. We wanted to provide yoga to everybody no matter their age, their ability, their life stage; but we wanted to do it in a way that was treading on the earth as lightly as possible.”
Jessica Molleur, the founder of OMBE Center in Boston, Massachusetts, also knew from the start she wanted a sustainable environment to be one of the core values of her business model. One of the first places they aim to go green is guest services.
“We use organic linens and organic massage oil,” said Molleur. “All the way down to equipment, where we search for things that are PVC free, BPA free and don’t have any endocrine destructors. Even more recently we got into the details of choosing nutritional supplements. We encourage eating organically and will help students learn about GMO, which is now an issue.”
At Yoga District, with multiple locations in Washington DC, founder Jasmine Chehrazi sees being an eco-conscious yoga studio imperative to the practice of her students. They consistently use essential oils for mat wash, vegetable-based castile soap for cleaning and they have hand towels they use in place of disposable paper towels.
“These small acts create a healthy environment that conveys a deep sense of mindfulness and simplicity,” said Chehrazi. “That we provide free reusable towels, free filtered water and reusable cups, and free green mat wash also helps create a relationship of trust and generosity with our students. We aren’t here to take their money. We are here to provide an experience of love. Loving one’s body, one’s awareness, one’s community, one’s environment. Being a green-minded studio is just one expression of that.”
One simple way Nandi Yoga incorporates going green into its business is to reduce as much garbage as possible. The majority of the business is handled online, with few paper options available at the actual studio.
“We don’t hand out a lot of schedules; we have them if people ask for them, but we put it online in hopes they will check that,” said Klein. “We do electronic waivers. A studio should make sure legally everything is good, but they have been fantastic for us. What’s great is that people will fill in the information and you don’t have to read the handwriting. We email receipts if they choose to have those.”
Nandi Yoga also has solar panels on their roof that help generate electricity and heat water. They offer dual-flushing toilets and motion-sensor faucets in the bathrooms. In terms of electricity, they aim to battle that through skylights in the practice room.
“A lot of the times during the summer, we don’t even turn the lights on,” said Klein. “We also had to put in new light fixtures. Anything you can do in terms of appliances or the physical structure to reduce costs, that should be the No. 1 priority, because it will have the longest effect that you can possibly have.”
With everything OMBE Center does, they still try to conserve as much energy as possible on a daily basis and ultimately aim to reduce their carbon footprint even more. One area they have found recently to be important is in regards to receipt paper their front desk staff deals with on a regular basis.
“There have been a couple studies done showing that workers exposed to retail paper have really high levels of BPA in their bloodstream,” said Molluer. “This is just from incidental contact. One of the first major retailers to battle this was Whole Foods, who use FSC certified paper. But we are a small business, so it was a bit more difficult to find receipt paper that is BPA-free. But using it was important to us as it has a huge impact on everyone.”
While finding specific receipt paper is something you can incorporate later on, Molluer advises to begin with recycling and grow from there. While many cities don’t have regular recycling services, Molluer explained if you pool your resources with your neighbors you can probably find a company willing to recycle your materials for you.
“With the building that we are in, the city doesn’t offer recycling services to businesses, so we contacted all the business owners in the building and it turned out everyone had the same issues,” said Molluer. “Everyone was interested in recycling, so we got together and pooled our resources and we had a recycling company that offered to compost things come to the building. That was very cost effective. You probably aren’t the only business in your area that has thought about this.”