Whether you're just starting to consider getting into the wonderful world of yoga or you're a master of sirsasana, stick around for this post as we begin to search for the best sustainable eco-friendly yoga mats.
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I've done more yoga in the last 6 months than I ever have. It's been wonderful. Working from home certainly has its advantages; I used to drive to the office daily, 45 minutes there and 45 minutes back. Now I use that time to centre my mind and body. #blessed
If you've ever laid on a yoga mat, you've probably smelt that synthetic odour that comes off it when your face is planted to it. That smell comes from PVC, a type of plastic known as polyvinyl chloride. PVC off-gasses (or releases) Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, that we can inhale and that can have serious health implications. PVC is toxic and is used to make a whole bunch of household items, like shower curtains.
Like all plastic, PVC is made from petroleum, which is really bad for the environment, from how its extracted, manufactured and discarded. It involves a whole lot of air, water, and soil pollution, not to mention the carbon footprint of shipping it all over the world.
PVC is naturally a very hard plastic. To make it soft and flexible, phthalates (which are hormone disruptors) are added to the material. Your body can then absorb these chemicals from your yoga mat simply by breathing. Not a lot of zen going on there!
Another major issue with PVC is that it can't be recycled, so it ends up in the landfill! Practicing yoga is all about being healthy—and that should include your mat!
How to Choose a Sustainable Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat That's Right for You!
You need to pay close attention to the following when choosing any sustainable product for your home:
Where Do They Source Their Materials;
Their Environmental Friendly/Green Business Procedures;
Their Ethical Labor practices;
Their Community Outreach & Charitable Contributions.
This way, you can compare brands for yourself and decide which green mat appeals to you the most. So relax, channel your inner zen, and keep scrolling.
9 Best Sustainable Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
Inhala Soulwear's yoga mats are made from recycled natural rubber, vegan eco-friendly suede, and other non-toxic materials. These are super soft to the touch! Also, with each mat you purchase, you receive an upcycled strap to easily carry your mat everywhere you go.
In addition to always seeking to innovate in their commitment to zero waste, Inhala Soulwear is so green that they give a "sustainability report" on their Instagram profile so that everybody can see the results of their eco journey.
Their team assembles their mindful pieces under safe working conditions and everyone earns fair wages. On their Instagram profile, they even feature some of the people (all women - #womensupportingwomen) who make their products.
When making any purchase, the option to plant a tree for $1 is given thanks to their partnership with One Tree Planted. Oh, and their packaging is 100% recycled, a BIG plus.
Yoloha carries a great selection of vegan and non-toxic eco-friendly yoga mats, from their signature Unity to their Original Cork Yoga Mat + Plant Foam. The Unity is made of a harmonious blend of recycled cork and rubber made out of recycled tires. No nasty PVC!
Just a note here, that recycled tires can contain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. But from my research, Yoloha says that the mats go through a triple washing process to remove the heavy metals, and the recycled tires are also on the bottom layer of the mat.
They've also recently invented a plant foam made from 55% ethically sourced sugar cane. Topped with the same cork surface, you will find several options including the Original, the Aura, and the Nomad for a more sustainable yoga mat made from 70% renewable materials.
The cork used in their mats is extracted from the outer bark of the cork oak in the Mediterranean area. However, they do not cut down a single tree. Rather, they debark the trees by hand every 9 years. And the image on the mats is simply stunning! It will be hard to choose one.
They advocate zero waste, so any material leftover from the creation of their mats is used to make other cork products. Even cork dust is used as fuel.
Their mats are proudly made in the USA and thanks to their cork harvesting, they provide over 100,000 jobs with fair wages.
Yoloha is active in youth organizations, veteran programs, and organizations that healthcare workers, such as Warrior Surf and Empowered Minds. They donate mats to veterans, doctors, youth, and more. They also make their products more accessible to yoga teachers, with up to 15% off purchases.
You may have heard of Manduka before, as it's a renowned brand among yogis. But here we won't focus on their track record, but rather on their Namaste Naturally eKo mats, which are 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly.
Manduka has 2 types of sustainably eco-friendly yoga mats - PRO and eKo. But today, we'll focus on their eKo line, which is made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber, and manufactured with zero waste and zero harmful plasticizers. It's also one of the most affordable eco-friendly yoga mat options.
Any waste leftover from the production of their mats is used in the production of other materials, creating a zero-waste manufacturing process.
They also have a program called Live On, which allows you to give an extra $10 when you purchase a mat from their website to send them any old mats you have at home for them to recycle.
Although eKo mats are manufactured in China (according to Amazon), Manduka says it seeks to provide its products in a way that respects its employees.
Besides their Yoga Teacher Reward Program designed to recognize yoga teachers, Manduka has a joint project with Susan G. Komen called Project: OM. This seeks to donate 1% of Manduka's global sales during 2020 to various charitable initiatives with a minimum guaranteed donation of $200,000.
If you like rustic-looking mats, you're going to fall in love with the ones that Barefoot Yoga makes. You have a few to choose from.
The first choice is the Original Eco Yoga Mat which is made from natural rubber (which does contain latex) and jute. Jute is a wonderful eco fabric. It contains no chemical additives and is 100% biodegradable.
The second choice is the Natural Jute and PER yoga mat. Made with jute and PER (Polymer Environmental Resin). PER is an interesting fiber. It is better than PVC but it is still a petroleum-based plastic whose main ingredient is chloride monomer, which is a known carcinogen. More on this at the bottom of the post.
Barefoot Yoga does claim on the website that its method of production is completely non-toxic and latex-free. The PER is on the bottom of the mat and the jute on the top.
Barefoot Yoga says that they are committed to supporting the environmental movement, so much so that on their website they explain how this commitment is not only seen in their products but also in their offices.
They source recycled furniture, use scrap paper for note-taking, and even claim that they recycle almost everything they use in their facilities. Unfortunately, in our search, we haven't found exactly where their materials are coming from, but we have reached out for more information and will keep you updated!
Barefoot Yoga contributes to the community by giving a 10% discount to yoga instructors who purchase their products for personal use.
Yoga Design Lab was born from an eye-opening experience that the brand's founder, Chad Turner, underwent on a trip to Bali. He realized that in the yogi's paradise, most mats there were unoriginal, solid-colored, and worst of all, mass-produced.
He decided it was time to give back to the community, and so he created sustainable and durable mats. I love their mats; they are some of the best recycled eco-friendly yoga mats.
They have 3 variables of eco mats: the Combo and Infinity mats, which are both made of natural tree rubber and recycled microfiber from plastic bottles. The Cork mats are made of—you guessed it— cork. Those are 100% biodegradable. They even have an ultra-thin mat, which makes it the perfect sustainable travel yoga mat.
Yoga Design Lab has not yet provided the exact location of where they source their manufacturing materials. For now, we only know that their materials come from rubber trees, cork, and plastic bottles. We've reached out to ask them.
YDL believes that we can all start choosing products that are friendlier to our mother earth, and that is why in addition to being eco-friendly, their products are vegan-friendly.
It’s worth noting that the rubber base of their mats is biodegradable, but the microfiber is only recyclable.
Yoga Design Lab claims on its website that its products are manufactured in China by BSCI compliant factories that promote ethical and safe workplace conditions.
$1 from every purchase goes to support urban youth yoga programs in need. Their affiliation with Earth Child Project spreads the love of yoga to under-resourced schools in Canada, South Africa, and NYC. In 2019, they sponsored 500 children with this project.
Jade Yoga began its eco journey over two decades ago and has since maintained its legacy as the makers of one of the best ethical yoga mats.
Looking for a thick sustainable yoga mat? Or a Mini? Or Non-slip? Check, check and check! Jade Yoga has it all.
All of Jade Yoga's eco-friendly yoga mats are made with natural rubber, which is why they have their signature non-slippery characteristic. In addition, they do not contain any synthetic rubber (PVC, EVA, etc).
It’s worth noting that only one of their mats, the Mysore Yoga Rug, is made of organic cotton. As stated on their website, the natural rubber used in their mats is extracted from a rubber tree, a sustainable and renewable resource.
They guarantee all U.S. environmental laws, and they do so since their founder, Dean Jerrehian, used to work as a lawyer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before joining the family business that is Jade Yoga.
All of their mats are made in the United States with the exception of their Mysore Yoga Rug which is made in India, but they still ensure good working conditions and fair wages by following U.S. consumer and labor laws.
From raising money for breast cancer awareness and research to giving people who don't have the opportunity to practice yoga the chance to do so, their campaigns and charitable contributions do not go unnoticed.
Let’s not forget that their partnership with Trees for the Future is their flagship partner since 2006. For every purchase, Jade Yoga plants a tree, and so far they have planted over two million.
Abhinehkrafts makes organic cotton mats and is definitely one of my top picks for sustainable yoga mats. These mats are hand-woven in India by artisans, and they're machine washable, which I love. If you are worried about the mat moving or sliding during practice you can request a pre-applied rubber coating on the sides at checkout. It's natural rubber that comes from Kerala and will help the mat stick.
Organic cotton is certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which ensures full transparency from farm to finished product. Third-party certification by GOTS also includes social criteria, making sure people are protected and children are kept out of the workplace.
You can also choose a sustainable yoga mat made from grass and jute. These are premium mats manufactured from naturally occurring Elephant grass and/or Indian reed-mace grass.
The grass is tropical and grows along the swamps and riversides, commonly found in the Deccan Indian region. It is an evergreen Perennial grass and its flowers, leaves, root, shoot, and stems are all harvested and used. The fibers from this grass have been used to create these mats.
Abhinehkrafts' products are all handmade using the rich textile heritage of India. On their website, they note, "Our partner artisans specifically with women in focus spread across the country help bring our designs to life. We believe in the magic of natural fibers."
If you are looking for a sustainable yoga mat in Canada, then Scoria is for you. This brand was founded on the principles of imagination and creativity. Yara, the founder, started the brand on Kickstarter.
These sustainable cork yoga mats are freaking gorgeous and are made with sustainably harvested cork and rubber. They are completely non-toxic and free from TPE and PVC. They're also made with non-toxic and water-based inks and an eco-glue, making them 100% biodegradable.
All their organic eco-friendly yoga mats are SGS REACH certified. They are designed here in Canada but made in China under strict ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices.
The cork is harvested ethically in Portugal. When your mat arrives at your door, it will be 100% free from plastic!
The goal at Scoria is to make an impact with every purchase. In the past 4 years, they have donated more than 150,000 nutritious meals to those in need. They also work to support life skills & healthy living for Indigenous youth in Canada all while using play-based education tools in partnership with Right To Play.
The Ubivore is another fantastic ethical and sustainable yoga mat made in Canada. Founded by sisters Emily and Rebekah, these large sustainable, eco-friendly yoga mats are made from ethically sourced cork. If you want a non-slip eco-friendly yoga mat, then Urbivore is the choice for you.
Because cork has a natural waxy substance that does not absorb water, it's the perfect option for a good sweat-sesh! The sweatier the better. Hot yoga, here we come!
No trees are harmed in the manufacturing of these eco yoga mats because the cork is harvested every 8-9 years from the regenerative bark of cork oak trees. The tree is never cut down and can live as long as 200 years.
When the bark is removed from cork trees, they absorb 3-5 times more carbon dioxide. Every year, a cork oak forest can retain up to 14 million tons of CO2, helping to reduce greenhouse gases! So COOL!
Urbivore works with One Tree Planted as well to plant trees with every purchase.
Not all of Lululemon's yoga mats are eco-friendly, but we do love seeing larger brands make changes in the right direction. Two of their yoga mats, the Take Form and the Arise, are made from natural, FSC-certified rubber, which is a much better alternative to plastic and synthetic rubber. And of course, you still get the high-performance, durability, and comfort that Lululemon is known for with all of their products.
(Note that these two mats do still contain some synthetic materials, so be sure to check the label before buying to make sure it's the right choice for you.)
And if you're looking for more FSC-certified products for your whole home, check out ShopFSC.ca!
How to Choose the Best Sustainable Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
I talked a little about this at the top of this post. There are many factors to take into account. Remember, if you are not sure about a company, reach out and ask them. If they are vague and don't want to provide you with the information, I'd move on to one that does.
With household items like this, I use my ethical fashion criteria to make more informed decisions.
Most yoga mats are made from PVC (yuck!), so we know that materials matter. Choosing PVC-free alternatives for yoga mats is by far the healthier choice, both for you and the planet.
PVC alternatives that are touted as "toxic-free" are not any better. I touched on PER and TPE in the post, but let's break it down even further.
PER and TPE are both made from petroleum (Thermo Plastic Elastomer). Some are worse than others, but since you can't tell, it's left up to you to ask the brand. Synthetic rubber is also commonly used to make yoga mats. Unfortunately, it's a terrible fiber and, like PVC, comes with all kinds of health and environmental issues. I'd stretch in the opposite direction to avoid this one!
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) is another type of plastic that typically contains formaldehyde. I'd avoid this one as well.
I've highlighted some really good alternatives to PVC in this post. A non-toxic yoga mat material should be made of either natural rubber, cotton, jute, or cork. These are all renewable resources that can be ethically manufactured. Natural rubber is still manufactured with chemicals, but its way better than synthetic rubber. Some people do have allergies to rubber.
All of the eco-friendly yoga mat companies featured in this post are offering some really great alternatives if you are in the market to buy an eco-friendly yoga mat.
I've also included brands that think about sustainability and ethical labour practices in all facets of their business. Ones that have third-party certification in place and ones that are fully transparent. If I can't find that info, I will tell you.
Caring for your eco friendly yoga mat
Although materials like cork and jute are antibacterial and don't need regular cleaning (according to the brands), I still recommend keeping your yoga mat clean and fresh.
Always use a natural laundry detergent if your mat is made from cotton or another soft fabric. For my mat, which is made from cork, I use a damp cloth to wipe it down. Really Great Goods offers an awesome yoga mat cleaner.
Bottom line when it comes to sustainable yoga mats
Eco-Friendly yoga mats bring an extra amount of zen to your yoga practice! Knowing that you're using an ethical, sustainable product just feels good.
With this list, you already have several examples so you don't have to worry about anything other than focusing on nailing that astavakrasana. Don't let that PVC smell interrupt your zen; rather, increase its flow in your yoga practice with a sustainable mat.
Trust me, it just feels better. Now, which one is the best of them all—that's up to you! The only thing we can say is that the best yoga mat is the one that takes care of the planet. And pair that yoga mat with these perfect yoga clothes!
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