As a practice, yoga has strong links to the Earth, and it is centred on love and care. Protecting and looking after the planet are strong tenets of many yogis, so it’s no wonder that eco-friendly yoga mats, clothing and props are in great demand. It completely fits with the ethos of yoga and, of course, helps us all to be environmentally friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. A good yoga mat will last for many years of practice, and the mass-produced man-made materials have manufacturing processes that not only damage the environment, but they are not recyclable and, therefore, will simply be discarded into landfill at the end of their life. If you want to avoid that, then an eco yoga mat could be the perfect choice for you. This means avoiding anything that is manufactured from PVC, EVA, TPE or PER! It might leave you wondering just what on earth you should be looking for to ensure your yoga mat is eco-friendly, so let’s look into the options.
Eco-yoga mats are going to be made from materials like cotton, rubber, wool, jute and cork. All of these materials are sustainable and can be produced in an organic manner, but they give very different finished surfaces, so they won’t be suitable for all types of yoga practice. Bikram, yoga or hot yoga can see students getting very hot and sweaty, which will lead to slipping on the mat if there is not enough grip, so we also need to take factors like this into consideration when choosing the best eco-friendly yoga mat.
Natural rubber is taken from the sap of the rubber tree. This is latex, and therefore rubber yoga mats may not work for anyone who has a latex allergy. Synthetic rubbers are made using petrochemicals and are, therefore, not environmentally friendly. Natural rubber should be sourced from a region that is not part of the Amazon for sustainability reasons. Sadly, it has been over-utilised in this region and is not being given a proper chance to recover. Vietnam has a very robust and stable rubber industry to ensure that the resources available and sustainable for decades to come. A rubber base gives a yoga mat a good level of grip on the floor and helps create a very strong finish product which means the mat will last for a long time. Natural rubber yoga mats are washable and do not contain any chemicals. Because they are made from rubber, they are a lot heavier than the man-made equivalents, which some people find awkward to transport. If you decide to purchase an eco-yoga mat made of rubber, you will find that it is durable and does not easily rip or tear, giving you many years of use.
Cotton yoga mats are a good eco-friendly option, but they do not offer the same level of grip as something like rubber. However, they can turn a rubber yoga mat into the perfect surface for hot yoga because they are absorbent and are often favoured as a topper to combine with a good grip underneath. It’s important that you choose organic cotton if you want to take the eco-yoga mat box because mass-produced cotton does have a huge water consumption and uses pesticides in order to meet demand.
Wool Eco Yoga Mat
Wool and sheepskin have been used for many years as a warming and protective layer. They have become very popular as yoga mat alternatives because of their soft and fluffy feeling. They are perfect if you have a cold practice and enjoy being cosy while you do yoga. Real wool has antimicrobial properties, so if you have a hot yoga practice, it will require a lot of washing to keep it clean. Again, you need to ensure that they are made from 100% organic wool, not any form of synthetic yarn or farmed from practices that use pesticides, chemicals, or other non-animal-friendly practices.
Yoga mats made from cork are another popular eco-friendly option but bear in mind that it is easy to damage a cork surface, and they are not as robust as some other options. In terms of sustainability, they are brilliant because the bark is harvested while the tree remains standing. It can be harvested by peeling off layers of bark, which will later recover and become a new source of cork. Of all the eco-friendly yoga mats, cork offers the best nonslip surface and is naturally antibacterial.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of choices when it comes to finding an eco-friendly
yoga mat. You just need to be careful that it has not had any other products mixed in. The most common thing is to use man-made materials because they have a much better grip, and some unethical companies will mix this with an eco-friendly substance and try and pass the whole Matt off as meeting the green criteria, which of course, it doesn’t. Here are a couple of eco-friendly yoga mats to give you an idea of what is on offer.
Yoga Studio cork yoga mats provide an amazing non-slip, anti-bacterial, natural and sustainable surface for your yoga practice with a fantastic grip that increases as you sweat.
Yoga Studio alignment Cork Yoga Mats are made from a blend of natural cork and recycled cork to create the top surface of our cork mat, and a natural rubber backing attached with a layer of non-toxic adhesive and fabric scrim to create the bottom surface.
This eco-friendly yoga mat made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber provides cushion and support for your practice while protecting the planet.
Manduka’s renowned eKO Lite mat is new and improved and now offers an unparalleled grip to perform even in the sweatiest of conditions.
In addition to its superior grip, the mat provides exceptional comfort and performance.