Woman doing yoga on sustainable yoga mat on a beautiful rocky shore next to a lake on a partially cloudy day.
September 19, 2023
 in 
Lifestyle

7 Non-toxic and Sustainable Yoga Mat Options That Are Responsibly Made, Plus How to Recycle Them!

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hopping for yoga mats these days can be a pretty overwhelming experience. There are things like thickness and grip to consider, as well as just trying to find something that won’t start shedding after two downward dogs. Add trying to find an environmentally friendly yoga mat into the mix and it can get even trickier.

Most yoga mats are made from PVC, a material that’s almost as bad for you as it is for the environment, but as you’ll see in this guide, there are plenty of eco yoga mat alternatives. Whether you’re a long-time yogi, someone just looking for a mat to stretch on at home, or a Pilates enthusiast, we’ve got you sorted. Keep reading for a list of 7 of the best brands and sustainable yoga mat options designed to make your practice better and do more for the planet at the same time. 

We’ll look at a few different sides of what a “sustainable yoga mat” can be, from the materials used to make it, to how it’s produced and the recycling options for when it inevitably reaches the end of its use. If that sounds in-depth, it’s because it is. That way you get to focus on getting deeper into your poses, without worrying about the impact of your mat. 

Table of  Contents

The Negative Impact of Non-Sustainable Yoga Mats

There’s nothing better than laying out your yoga mat after a busy day, sitting down, and finally taking a long, deep breath. The only thing that can ruin it? That distinctive, chemical smell that’s common with most mats made from PVC, especially if they’re new. The hard-to-recycle material is often treated with harmful chemicals that can emit “off-gasses” that though not widely studied with yoga mats specifically, are certainly worth avoiding.

You may have noticed that the smell can make you feel a bit dizzy or headachy and that’s because, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, even short-term exposure can have a negative effect on human health. Some of the chemicals found in yoga mats or used in their production include parabens, phthalates, azodicarbonamide, and polypropylene.

The actual PVC is made from two main ingredients: salt water which is used to produce chlorine and is then combined with ethylene, which is obtained from oil, a material that causes environmental havoc from the way it’s mined to the way it's treated in production. PVC can also be difficult to recycle, landing many yoga mats at landfills where they then contribute to pollution issues.

This doesn’t paint a great picture for most yoga mats but it gets better! So many brands have found creative ways to make nontoxic yoga mats that leave out chemicals and are much easier to recycle.

What Are the Most Sustainable Yoga Mat Materials?

About 301 lbs of plastic waste is created per person in the USA and PVC yoga mats certainly contribute to the issue. What should we be using instead though?

As is true of any sustainable product, there is no single, perfect material for an eco-friendly yoga mat to be made from. Some of the better options include recycled materials and organic or natural compounds such as linen, cotton, natural rubber, and cork. These use fewer chemicals and are more easily recyclable than PVC equivalents, making them less damaging for humans but also less harmful to the planet.

What Does it Mean for Something to Be Responsibly Made?

The definition of “responsibly made” varies widely. Some use it interchangeably with “ethical production” and different brands and government bodies have their own guidelines on the issue. Generally, however, it refers to the social and environmental aspects of sustainable production.

From an environmental side, this means looking at how product materials are sourced and whether production is considerate of water and energy use, among other things. From the social side, something “responsibly made” should ideally prioritize fair pay and treatment for workers. A “responsible” approach to making things is all about staying accountable and ensuring that everything from the people to the environmental factors involved are cared for as best as possible.

Conventional vs. Sustainable Yoga Mats: Weighting up Price and Performance

Understandably, the thing that makes most of us pick up a PVC mat rather than an eco-yoga mat is usually the price. PVC mats tend to be cheaper and more easily available, but they often don’t work or last as well as sustainable yoga mat options.

Many PVC mats can shed easily, and generally show wear and tear quite quickly. The best eco-friendly yoga mat may require a little more investment than a conventional one, but it should also last far longer and perform better, making the price worth it in the long run. 

7 Brands for Non-toxic, Responsibly Made, Sustainable Yoga Mats:

The search for the best nontoxic yoga mat ends right here. We’ve put together a list of tried and true environmentally friendly yoga mats broken down by brand and analyzed based on common concerns such as grip and dimensions, as well as sustainability issues such as the materials used and whether the mat is recyclable or not. 

We’ve got a fabric yoga mat on this list, a few options if you want an entirely carbon natural yoga mat, the perfect travel companion, and everything else you could possibly need when picking out the perfect mat for your practice.

Brentwood Home

Woman doing yoga pose on sustainable yoga mat by Brentwood Home brand

Basic Stats: 71” x 24” (slightly longer than average), has a 5mm thickness, and weighs 5.7 lbs.

Made From: This completely natural yoga mat has organic cotton on the top and natural FSC-certified latex underneath.

Recyclability: Fully recyclable and biodegradable.

What’s the grip like?: Good! The mat’s surface is woven to include slight indentations that help with traction.

The natural latex underside of the Organic Non-Slip Yoga Mat prevents it from moving around on the floor while the upper side is a beautiful, organic cotton that comes in an array of colors. It’s an aesthetically pleasing mat with seriously practical elements such as being completely machine washable and recyclable.

What makes it one of the best non-toxic mat options is that the Brentwood yoga mat is also GOTS-certified organic which means that the cotton used was grown without harmful pesticides etc. From a responsibility angle, the brand is also partnered with Climate Neutral to track and reduce their carbon footprint.

b, halfmoon (Previously B Yoga)

side view of two women doing yoga in parallel on yoga mats by b, halfmoon in studio

Basic Stats: 72” x 24”, 4mm thickness, and weighing 5.1 lbs.

Made From: Cork top and rubber underside.

Recyclability: Depends on your area. Usually, the cork and rubber need to be separated to be recycled.

What’s the grip like?: Excellent, thanks to the cork surface.

The great thing about this natural yoga mat made from cork is that the surface becomes more grippy when wet. It also naturally resists liquid so has excellent sweat-wicking properties, making it one of the best non-toxic yoga mats for people who do heated classes. This mat is responsibly made and naturally anti-microbial which is why it doesn’t need the chemical treatments that PVC mats usually have.

Jade Yoga

A selection of sustainable yoga mats by jade yoga stacked on top of each other with name of each type provided  below

Basic Stats: 24” wide and available in a 68” and 74” length, with a 1/8” thickness and a very light weight of just over 3 lbs.

Made From: Natural rubber.

Recyclability: Check your area but rubber is recyclable.

What’s the grip like?: Excellent.

The Jade Yoga travel mat is lightweight enough to be taken all over the world, but the brand also sells a variety of other sustainable yoga mats, all made from natural rubber. Their sustainability commitments include planting a tree for every mat sold, having a US-based production that ensures that all mats are made responsibly and according to US labor and safety laws, and various community and outreach partnerships.

Öko Living

woman performing yoga on rainbow patterned non-toxic yoga mat by Öko Living laid out sideways.

Basic Stats: Approx. 72” x 25” but varies because handmade, 5mm thick, and weighs 3,4 lbs.

Made From: Organic cotton with a natural rubber coating on the base.

Recyclability: Easy to recycle.

What’s the grip like?: Good, thanks to rib lines in the fabric that stop you from slipping. If it’s not grippy enough for you, they even have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

We’ve shared the specifications on the brand’s standard fabric yoga mat but Öko Living also provides a travel-friendly option that only weighs 2.5 pounds. All their mats are natural and hand-loomed by women artisans who have fair and safe working conditions. One of the things we love most about their non-toxic yoga mats is that not only are they made from organic cotton, but the dyes used are made from medicinal herbs intended to help soothe the skin when it comes into contact with the mat.

Suga Mats

Woman performing yoga outdoors on sustainably made yoga mat by Suga  Mats

Basic Stats: 72” x 25”, 5mm thick and weighs just under 5 lbs.

Made From: Neoprene sourced entirely from recycled wetsuits.

Recyclability: Easy and done through the brand. You can also drop off old wetsuits with them to be turned into more recycled mats and get a discount on your purchase with them.

What’s the grip like?: Excellent.

These yoga mats’ eco qualities are undeniable. Suga Mats has turned a non-biodegradable material into a highly durable, recycled yoga mat that is sweat-wicking, easy to clean, and non-slip. Their mats also come in different sizes and are slightly wider than most for extra comfort. The brand doesn’t give much detail on the exact production of their mats but their ongoing recycling initiatives to keep wetsuits out of landfills is certainly a plus.

Yoga Kargha

A selection of handwoven, recycled cotton yoga mats in various colors made  by Yoga Kargha rolled up and stacked up against white background.

Basic Stats: 72” x 27” with a 3mm thickness. The exact weight isn’t specified online.

Made From:  Natural banana fiber.

Recyclability: Not recyclable but biodegradable.

What’s the grip like?: Good, thanks to a natural rubber coating and the indentations on the mat as well.

Yoga Kargha is a brand based in India with a wide variety of natural yoga mats made from banana fiber and cotton. The female-founded brand proudly supports traditional craft-making, rather than large factory operations, and is shaped by a desire to make authentic and natural yoga tools more widely available.

Manduka

A group of yogis smiling while laying down after yoga practice on natural rubber yoga mats by Manduka.

Basic Stats: 71” x 24”, or 4mm thick, and weighs 5.2 lbs.

Made From: Non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber with non-azo dyes and non-toxic agents.

Recyclability: When you order a yoga mat from them, you can send your old yoga mat (no matter the brand or condition) back in the box your new Manduka mat arrives in. Once they receive it, they will either upcycle or recycle it for you.

What’s the grip like?: Excellent

The Eko series mats from Manduka are a collection of eco-friendly yoga mats shaped by years of experience and testing. The series also offers a more agile Lite version and convenient travel version

These yoga mats are highly durable and as a fun feature, are hand-processed which means that the exact marbling on each mat is unique. The transparent and responsible sourcing of natural rubber for their mats is another stand-out of the brand.

A More Sustainable Practice

There’s something so grounding about rolling out a yoga mat at the start of a class or an at-home stretching session. That rectangle of space laid out on the floor is an opportunity to step away from the chaos of the world, breathe, and come back to the self.

An eco-friendly yoga mat just extends all that good energy and helps ensure that your practice is as good for the planet as it is for your own well-being. Next time you’re in the market for a new mat, consider ditching the PVC and instead choosing one of the non-toxic yoga mat options mentioned. It’s a great way to invest in something that will last through every pose and better support the planet in the process.