Do you love yoga and are keen to ensure your practice remains as sustainable as possible? Then this guide on eco-friendly yoga mats is made for you! There are a wide range of high-performance eco yoga mats available, perfect for eco-conscious yogis. However, there are also an abundance of cheaply made plastic mats that barely last a month. So how do you know which one to choose and what to avoid? Well, we got you covered! Read on to understand your eco-friendly yoga mat options and what to look out for when picking a sustainable yoga mat.
Avoid PVC and other plastics
We all know that plastic is a major part of the environmental crisis we have today. They are not only bad for the planet, but also for us humans. If we want to fight against plastic pollution and protect our planet, we need to avoid all things plastic. This also means most commonly used yoga mats. So, let’s take a deeper dive into the types of plastic yoga mats and why to avoid them.
PVC yoga mats
PVC is worst of the worst when it comes to plastics. Dubbed “The Poison Plastic” by Greenpeace, PVC is damaging through its entire lifecycle, contaminating the very air we breathe. From its production to usage, it releases high levels of the compound dioxin, one of the most toxic compounds known to humans. Add to this the difficulty in disposing of a material that is neither biodegradable nor recyclable. PVC will release even more harmful chemicals if burnt, making it the worst choice for a yoga mat – or anything else for that matter!
Non-PVC plastic yoga mats
Now that we know to avoid PVC mats at all costs, you may wonder what about other types of plastic?
EVA is another common material for producing yoga mats. It’s often being used as a promotional buzzword to emphasize a product’s lack of PVC, inferring a safe and more eco-friendly product. But is EVA really an eco-friendly alternative? Even though, it’s widely accepted that EVA doesn’t contain the same harmful chemicals as PVC, it’s still a synthetically produced plastic that is neither biodegradable nor easily recyclable. This means that it will eventually end up in our landfill. Doesn’t sound eco-friendly or sustainable to us.
With plastic options out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!
What are the eco-friendly yoga mat alternatives
Let’s cover the basics first. What actually is an eco yoga mat? And what is it that makes a mat sustainable? Short answer is any yoga mat that is ethically and sustainably sourced and manufactured. The main aspect that makes a yoga mat sustainable is the material. Eco-friendly yoga mats are made from recyclable and renewable materials in safe and ethical conditions. The best ones are the ones produced from natural materials that are neither harmful to the planet nor its inhabitants.
Natural yoga mats from tree rubber
Rubber usually has a bad reputation, as most of the time we refer to synthetic rubber. But did you know that there are many kinds of rubber, including the natural rubber made from a milky white liquid extracted from Hevea trees?
Tree rubber is an extremely versatile, biodegradable material that has both higher strength and greater stretching capability than its synthetic version. For that reason, tree rubber is commonly used to make high-performance eco yoga mats. If that’s not enough, these pretty yoga mats have better cushion, resilience and grip than a standard plastic mat. That’s what we call win-win!
Tree rubber yoga mat examples
If you like the sound of a natural rubber mat, make sure to check out Manduka yoga mat Eko series, made from sustainably harvested tree rubber. They use non-toxic foaming agents in their manufacturing process to create a soft, cushioned feeling and grippy texture. Their zero-waste yoga mat cycle scheme has collected over 7,000 used yoga mats so far to recycle. You can join the scheme with not just Manduka mats, but any yoga mat brand!
Another great example of an eco-friendly yoga mat made from natural rubber is Eco Rise Yoga Mat by Yogamatters. With five beautiful natural colours, these mats are free from toxic chemicals and dyes.
Cork yoga mats
You have probably heard cork being used for notice boards, wine bottle corks and drink coasters, but what about beautiful, high-performance yoga mats? Yes, you read it right! Cork yoga mats are one of the most sustainable yoga mat options out there, and here’s why.
Cork comes from the bark of a cork oak tree and is a perfect example of eco-friendly material. Being the only tree in the world that regenerates its own bark, cork oak trees are really an amazing source of sustainable material. There’s no need to cut them down to gather the raw material. And even better, they absorb 5 times more carbon dioxide once their bark has been harvested. A human-nature win-win if ever there was one!
Cork yoga mat examples
Yoloha is a sustainable yoga brand that focuses entirely on cork based yoga products. As well as being eco-friendly, their yoga mats benefit from cork’s natural antimicrobial surface, which naturally kills bacteria and fungi. They also give off a subtle and pleasant woody fragrance, perfect for calming yoga practices.
Corkspace is another cork based yoga mat brand based in the UK. They also use natural rubber in the base of their mats to improve their gripping power. They are also a member of Carbonfund.org, offsetting their carbon emissions.
Jute yoga mats
Last but not least is jute yoga mats. Jute, also known as burlap, is a fabric made from natural fibres taken from the jute plant. It’s a surprisingly common but lesser-known fabric, perfect for producing eco-friendly yoga mats.
When used for producing eco yoga mats, jute gives a more rustic and natural aesthetic. Often coupled with a natural rubber underside, jute provides a comfortable alternative with its high performance in grip. It may not be as silky smooth as the natural rubber and cork mats, but it’s certainly a great option for hot and sweaty yoga sessions, with its remarkable breathability and sweat absorption.
Jute yoga mat examples
Eco Yoga jute mats are perfect examples of jute yoga mats with a natural rubber underside. While the rubber underside ensures strong traction with the surface, the jute top side creates a pleasantly natural surface with an excellent grip no matter how sweaty you get.
If you’re intrigued by jute mats, Sundried jute yoga mat is another eco-friendly option. As if its beautiful blue colour and sustainable nature are not enough, Sundried also offers a free downloadable yoga guide with each purchase.
Bonus: patterned yoga mats
All the above options are pretty on their own with a great natural aesthetic to them. However, if you like your yoga mat a bit jazzier, it’s super easy to find patterned yoga mats that are both pretty and eco-friendly. Some of our favourites include Yoga Design Lab Studio’s beautiful 100% natural tree rubber mats that are dyed with water-based inks free from silicone, toxic glue, and phthalates. Or alternatively, you can try cork yoga mats with mandala designs and chakra symbols.
What about eco-friendly yoga mat bags?
What is as bad as a non-sustainable yoga mat? Cheap, plastic yoga mat bags. Op for natural fibre yoga mat bags for the ultimate sustainable yoga kit.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to find eco-friendly and ethical yoga bags. We’ve got you covered with our eco yoga mat bags. Beautiful yet functional, our eco yoga mat bags are made entirely from hemp in Nepal. They are handmade by our local partner communities, who receive safe working conditions and fair wages. Pair them with your eco-friendly yoga mat for the sustainable lifestyle you want!
Conclusion: which eco yoga mat to choose?
There are loads of great options out there for those of you keen to ensure their yoga practice remains sustainable and natural. All the above sustainable yoga mat options are not only eco-friendly but high performance and durable. Each option has a key area they excel in, and it’s purely down to a personal choice of what you prioritise.
Are you someone who sweats buckets during a tough session? Then opt for a jute mat. It will seamlessly absorb your sweat and let you continue on. Are you looking for a non-slip yoga mat with an extra-strong grip? Natural rubber may be the way to go. Or does a luxurious smoothness and impact absorption feature high on your list? Then perhaps cork mats are the ones to look for.
Why not let us know your preference or share your favourite brand in the comments below. We always love to hear your thoughts!