As soon as you step in to an NYC Modo Yoga Studio, you are welcomed by a living wall hinting at one of Modo International's six pillars: Be Green. Here at Manduka, we have our own Go Green pillar, so it is an honor to spotlight a partner studio that shares our love for sustainability. We asked Alex Lamb, Modo Yoga NYC's Director of Operations, about how to mix yoga, sustainability, and a successful business.
MandukaMag: Be Green is a major part of the Modo Yoga story. Why is the Be Green pillar important to Modo as a yoga company and how does Modo NYC embody Be Green in the day to day running of studios?
Alex Lamb: “Be Green” is one of the most important of Modo’s 6 Pillars (our studio philosophy) and we always strive to be eco-friendly in whatever way we can. It is our belief that a big part of taking our yoga off the mat is to be stewards for the earth; after all, we won’t have the opportunity to practice self-care if we don’t first care for our environment. Climate Change is possibly the biggest threat to our global community today, and we want to do everything we can to try to mitigate or reverse it. All Modo studios are built using sustainable & non-toxic materials, we use only natural cleaning products in our maintenance practices, and we recycle and compost whatever waste we can. We also rent out reusable water bottles rather than selling plastic ones- always trying to cut out plastic wherever we can!
MM: Can you talk to us about the bigger sustainability initiatives you run and how they contribute to the Modo Community?
AL: In addition to the small eco-friendly best practices we employ around the studio daily, we have larger Eco-initiatives that we fundraise for throughout the year so we can broaden our possibility for meaningful change at a global level. Junglekeepers, a Peru-based NGO that Modo NYC and Modo Montreal launched together in 2015, has already worked to protect over 4,900 acres of the Amazon rainforest from deforestation, gold mining, illegal logging and poaching. What’s so cool about this project is that it was founded after Modo studio owners led a retreat in the Amazon jungle and were inspired by its natural beauty and incredibly biodiverse ecosystem.
Rather than just appreciating the beauty of the forest and then leaving it behind, they decided to take action to help protect it. Through grass-roots fundraising and a healthy dose of No-Show fees (all of Modo NYC’s No-Show fees are donated directly to charity, Junglekeepers being one of them), Junglekeepers has launched a ranger program to help facilitate the protection of the land.
In addition to Junglekeepers, one of the Modo Yoga NYC co-founders, Rebecca Foon, co-founded Pathway to Paris, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to turning the Paris Agreement into reality through finding and offering innovative and ambitious solutions for combating global climate change. Pathway to Paris believes that in this urgent global crisis, collaboration is key to transforming our cities and moving into a new era of 100% renewable energy.”
Both of these initiatives demonstrate how eager the Modo community is to be a leader in fighting Climate Change, and we hope to encourage our students to do the same.
MM: Where do you see challenges with being sustainable and running a successful business?
AL: It takes a lot of energy (mental, physical, above all electrical) to operate any successful business- especially a hot yoga studio. As we’re aware of the energetic demands of running a studio dawn to dusk, seven days a week, we do everything we can to offset our carbon footprint. We like to think of it less of a challenge, and more of an opportunity to engage in a conversation with our student body. We try to inspire our students to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and they in turn make really wonderful suggestions about ways we can make our studio more sustainable. Just recently a student encouraged us to stop burning Palo Santo in our studios as the increased popularity of it in Western Culture has had detrimental effects on the areas of the world where it is harvested. One of our staff members also recently introduced us to Terracycle, an amazing private recycling company that specializes in collecting specific items that are usually landfill bound after being rejected by recycling centers and ensure they are properly disposed of or repurposed. Staying open to new information and new lines of dialogue about all the small things we can do to sustainably run our business is a huge part of how we learn to grow and do better.