It goes without saying that opting for an eco-friendly yoga mat is aligned with the yoga sutras. After all, the practice of Ahimsa, one of the limbs of yoga, means “not doing harm.” Part of not doing harm means not hurting the planet, which is why it is important now more than ever to research what is in your yoga mat.
You can find yoga mats anywhere these days, even on Amazon! However, how do you know which yoga mats are eco-friendly or sustainable? With the accessibility and variety of yoga mats, it is up to you to determine what eco-friendly yoga mat is best for your health and the health of the planet. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Avoid plastic yoga mats
Most yoga mats are made with polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC, a cheap, chemically ridden material made from petroleum. PVC mats make yoga mats soft and flexible, but they do so with the use of phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals that are known to cause reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and animals. In short, they disrupt your hormones and could even cause cancer!
You cannot recycle PVC yoga mats, and the material in these mats leaks carcinogens and other toxic chemicals into our oceans and soil, leading to more harmful effects.
Do research on yoga mat materials
The first step to figuring out which eco-friendly yoga mat is for you is to do your own research. Determine what is the most important factor to you. Is it having a PVC-free mat? Is it ensuring your mat was made by hand? Is it having a natural jute mat that is recyclable? Also, hold companies accountable for sharing what materials are in their mats. If a company does not list its yoga mat’s materials, email them, and ask.
Look for yoga mats made from cotton, jute, natural rubber and/or hemp
Jute yoga mats are eco-friendly and non-toxic. Raw jute is a natural fiber derived from plants, which means it is fully recyclable, natural, and sustainable. It is also commonly found and, unlike natural rubber, not endangered. Hemp is also another great eco-friendly option as it is natural, non-toxic, and silicone and PVC-free, like jute. Hemp yoga mats are usually combined with some other type of material, such as cotton, to ensure comfort.
Organic cotton yoga mats or rugs are another way to go. They are natural, eco-friendly, and if you can find one, certified organic. Ensure you find one that is free from synthetic finishes, so you are not inhaling fumes while practicing.
Natural rubber is made from extracting a liquid sap from a tree. This rubber is then made into non-toxic yoga mats as no chemicals are used to create them. However, there is an ecological issue present here still. Even through tree rubber is the most eco-friendly type of rubber available today, the plants that produce this rubber are threatened. Some alternatives to natural rubber include but are not limited to the following:
- Russian dandelion
- Rubber rabbit brush
- Fig tree
Consider purchasing a mat from a company with sustainable practices
Some yoga mat companies will offset their carbon footprint by offering programs that give back to the environment. One way to do this is by planting a tree for every yoga mat they sell. They might also collect used yoga mats and repurpose them.
Here at Yoga4Good we pride ourselves on our eco-friendly jute, hemp, and natural rubber yoga mats. To check out our mats, shop here.