With many brands now using words like ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ in very misleading ways, it’s really hard to find products which are truly natural and safe.
We searched high and low for a natural, non-toxic foam play mat for our kids but all we could find were mats made from harmful plastics like EVA, polyurethane or PVC. Not what we wanted our babies to play on all day, and also not great for the environment. So we decided it was time to develop our own natural non-toxic play mats.
We weren’t going to compromise on functionality. Our goal was to create a safe, non-slip and wipe clean space for our kids to play. We also wanted the mats to be easily transportable, easy to store and look good in any home. It took us a while to get there (2 years in fact!) but we persevered with our research to make sure we created a highly functional, biodegradable, eco-friendly and non-toxic play mat.
DEVELOPING OUR NON-TOXIC PLAY MATS
Our non-toxic play mats are made from what we call ‘tree foam’. But what is tree foam and is it natural?
The base of the play mats are made from natural rubber foam. The only raw material in this section is pure rubber, made using the sap from rubber trees which is sustainably harvested without harming the life of the tree.
When we started developing, it was really hard to find a supplier who was willing to work with us and our very specific requirements. Conventional rubber foam, even when called ‘natural’ is mixed with a lot of nasty chemicals as it’s processed, as well as unnecessary dyes. Not only did we need our supplier to work with us to develop a new formula, we also asked them to clean their machines before our mats were manufactured to ensure no chemical residue was left behind from other mats the factory had been making for less stringent clients! As you can imagine, not many factories were willing to work with us in this way, claiming that the methods they had used for years were ‘safe’ and ‘tested’. But that wasn’t good enough for us.
Having spent so much time researching the methods and ingredients used, we eventually developed a unique formula which cut out all the nasty chemicals, making them truly non-toxic and safe for babies. The foaming agent we use in our mats is an ingredient often added to bread to make it fluffy, and we don’t use any dyes or other harsh chemicals.
We use natural cork as the top layer, which is heat pressed together using a minimal amount of non-toxic, formaldehyde-free glue (the heat in this process helps it stick without too much glue needed). We use laser printed inks for the designs which are all water-based, non-toxic and free from lead and other nasties.
THEY MAKE GREAT NON-TOXIC YOGA MATS TOO!
Our play mats also double up as exercise / yoga mats, so they’re a great use of space in the home if you’re looking for somewhere to exercise when the kids are in bed. They roll up really easily so they can be packed up for storage or taken in the car for a weekend away.
Some of our mats are even being used by yogis (who don’t have kids!) as a stand alone yoga mat. Here’s what Sam at Soma Meditation has to say about them:
“I’m a meditation teacher, as part of my practice I do some gentle yoga postures (Asana) everyday. I always found that my face ended up in the carpet or on a hard wooden floor for some of my yoga postures while using a regular mat. It’s all changed now, 4 years of being stuck to a regular sized yoga mat has come to an end. With Pure Earth Collection’s large play/yoga mat I have the freedom to move as needed in my practice. The idea of it being biodegradable, non toxic, spongy (but firm) and easy to clean makes it the perfect mat. It looks so good with its neutral design, it doesn’t need to be rolled back up once I’ve finished. It’s gotten my yoga teacher friends very curious!”