“Buy a mat, plant a tree.” This tagline is part of the story of Jade Yoga. Yet it is far more than just a tagline. This initiative is part of the mission of the family-owned and run company. From tree planting to other programs, Jade Yoga engages in initiatives that recognize our interdependence, in business and practice. There is a connection to karma yoga and to giving back. The ideals of yoga are bigger than the practice.
Jade Yoga’s Dean Jerrehian learned the values of giving back from his family; his mother emphasized the importance of giving back while his father instructed the family, “You don’t do good deeds for attention.” That being said, bringing attention to good deeds can serve to create a positive ripple effect. Jade’s commitment to good deeds is more than simply producing an environmentally-friendly product out of renewable materials or making a donation to a good cause. The intention is to make a difference and to inspire other people to contribute as well.
When it comes to planting those trees, Jade Yoga has partnered with the nonprofit global organization Trees for the Future since 2006. To date, close to 1.5 million trees have been planted in the partnership. Business Development and Partnerships Associate Daniela Funez, says the following about Jade, “They have been pioneers in many ways. Private companies can get involved to tackle the world’s most pressing problems like deforestation, hunger and extreme poverty. It helps bring attention to issues all should be aware of today.”
Trees can change the life of a community. According to Trees for the Future, “There are many ways that trees are beneficial to both people and the environment. Trees are habitat for biodiversity. Trees create much of the planet’s oxygen. And as part of their place in the ecosystem, trees help combat climate change. The list is nearly limitless, but we focus on the role trees play in agroforestry and in helping farming families improve their land quality and productivity.”
The nonprofit currently works in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, and Cameroon where their efforts reach beyond simply planting trees. With an eye to future sustainability, Trees for the Future trains farmers in agroforestry and invests in seeds, tools, and the materials necessary for planting. Trees for the Future focuses on what they call a Forest Garden Approach looking not only at planting trees, but creating sustainable ecosystems with species that include living fences to protect animals and fields, trees for lumber and firewood, and fruit trees for food.
Decisions about tree-planting are made with the farmers involved and some of the trees chosen include mangoes, avocado, jujube, mahogany, acacia, cassia, albizia, citrus, and cashew, among others. Farmers and communities participate in training with Trees for the Future, focusing on initiatives such as Gardening for the Family, Growing Fruit Tree Seedlings, Gardening for the Market, and more.
5 Practices for Creating Your Own Forest Garden
Trees for the Future encourages everyone to take a look at their Forest Garden Training Center. This free resource provides the 411 on how to create your own forest garden!
In addition, implement these 5 practices in your own forest (or urban) garden:
• Save rainwater to use in your gardens.
• Use native species.
• Use integrated pest management techniques.
• Rotate your own crops to create more revitalized soils and see the results of planting complimentary crop and tree species near each other.
For more information about Trees for the Future’s Forest Garden Training Center, visit training.trees.org/
Conscious Business and Jade Yoga
Jade Yoga is also dedicated to continually evaluating their initiatives and conscious business practices. For example, at the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival in April, Dean was impacted by films that brought attention to the prevalence of plastic pollution. It inspired another shift in Jade’s business practices. Until now, Jade has shipped products in plastic bags to keep the mats clean during transportation, but now they’re looking at shipping mats without being encased in plastic bags. While it means that consumers might have to wipe off a bit of dust, it also means that there is less plastic in the world. “Small actions really do matter,” Dean commented.
“It doesn’t take a lot to make some changes and create solutions,” Dean said. Another film had a powerful message with its description of the practice: Take Three. This suggestion encourages people to pick up three pieces of plastic every time they go to the beach. “Just think of the impact that would make if one million people did this every year,” Dean reflected. The world’s challenges are overwhelming unless we break them down into little steps. The power of crowdsourced litter control is real. These conscious plastic-reduction efforts complement Jade’s goal of going carbon-neutral. Their mission is to also help studios become carbon-neutral. These are all examples of how the cumulative impact of each one of our small actions can have a global effect.
Color-Coded Mats and Donations at Jade Yoga
Sustainable business practices and planting trees aren’t the only initiatives that Jade Yoga supports. The brand is known for is their brightly-colored mats—some of which are limited and special-edition mats that involve a donation to a cause. For example, Jade’s pink mat supports breast cancer initiatives. And a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each saffron mat benefits organizations involved in Autism awareness education and research.
Then, there is story of the teal mat, which has become one of Jade’s top sellers. Dean was asked by his friend Dara Barr, who had ovarian cancer, to consider a teal mat for the cause. A portion of the proceeds from Jade’s teal mat supports innovative research into ovarian cancer screening methods. There’s a lab at UPENN working to mimicking a dog’s superpower sense of smell to develop a screening test for ovarian cancer that will detect its presence by scent in blood samples. Dean says that his late friend Dara would have loved to see the development of a non-invasive screening technique for this highly invasive cancer. The pink and saffron mats are rolled out at specific times for campaigns throughout the year. The popularity of the teal mat has made it available year-round.
One Mat at a Time
Whatever color you use as a base for your practice, you may have contributed to a farm in Kenya or Tanzania. You may have also contributed to any one of Jade’s numerous campaigns worldwide. Throughout the history of Jade Yoga, Dean and the rest of the team have maintained their focus on using their platform to be a force for positive change. They also do the work in order to inspire others. They’re doing their part for our interconnected global lives. One mat at a time.
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.