Eco Friendly Yoga Mat Options – What’s best for you?

A short article to help you choose the best Eco Friendly Yoga Mat

You’ve read the articles on the horrors of PVC yoga mats and phthalates and you’ve probably turned your smelly, old yoga mat into a pair of shoes! But, just how do you choose the best environmentally friendly yoga mat to replace it?

Most people buy a PVC sticky yoga mat because they’re cheap, comfortable but firm, provide decent grip and a choice of colors and patterns.

I’m going to keep this article simple by assuming you want something similar to a standard sticky yoga mat but more eco friendly, better for your health and better for the environment.

I’m not going to discuss jute yoga mats or cotton yoga mats in this article, just rubber yoga mats and eco foam yoga mats.

Rubber Yoga Mats

Rubber is almost the perfect material for eco friendly yoga mats. It’s natural and sustainable (as long as it’s from sustainable forests). Rubber is really dense but springy, so rubber yoga mats are great for the perfect combination of balance and comfort.

The best premium eco yoga mats are made of rubber but, they have three drawbacks.

  1. Rubber yoga mats are heavy so they can be a pain to carry around
  2. Rubber yoga mats smell. Some people love the smell, some hate it but it does fade over time.
  3. Rubber yoga mats contains latex and some people are allergic to latex

Eco Foam Yoga Mats

As a response to the dangers of PVC two eco friendlier versions of flexible plastic are now used for eco yoga mats. These are TPE and PER or Thermoplastic Elastomers and Polyurethane Environmental Resin. You can do your own research on the chemistry of yoga mats (if you’re interested) but for this article, all we need to know is that both of these compounds come in dozens of varieties, some of which include rubber.

Every Eco Foam Yoga Mat will be slightly different so you need to check with the supplier exactly what the benefits of their yoga mats are. Eco Foam Yoga Mats can be-

  • Biodegradable
  • Phthalate free
  • PVC free
  • Dioxin free
  • Lead free
  • Cadmium free
  • Produced in a more environmentally friendly way than PVC

Make sure your new environmentally friendly yoga mat ticks as many boxes as possible. If you have a latex allergy check that your TPE or PER ecomat doesn’t contain latex.

Eco Friendly Yoga Mat Prices

Many people are happy to pay premium prices for the best eco credentials and the best quality yoga mats, and that’s great BUT times are tight so, it’s important to realise that you can also now, find excellent extra thick, extra long, eco yoga mats for around $15. If you’re just starting off, buy one of those instead of a PVC yoga mat.

Like all things it’s a question of balance. You may not be able to buy the perfect Eco Yoga Mat but you can do a lot better than the standard PVC mat.

Summary

If you can afford it and you aren’t allergic to latex and don’t mind the temporary smell go for a rubber yoga mat like this or this

If money’s no object go for something like this

If cost is an issue or you’d really just like a light foam eco friendly yoga mat then go for TPE or PER like this one . It’s less than $15.

Our personal favorite and a really great middle of the road Eco Friendly Yoga Mat is this one

If you’d like more detail take a look at our latest article ‘The Eco Mat Yoga best selling eco friendly yoga mats review’ or click here for more general advice on where to buy a yoga mat.

Eco Friendly Yoga Mat

Thought you might like a breath of fresh air!

What are standard, sticky, discount yoga mats made of?

An article explaining what standard, sticky, cheap yoga mats are made of.

The perfect yoga mat will be thick enough to be comfortable but thin enough to allow proper balance and light enough to carry around easily.  It will grip the floor and provide grip for your hands and feet.  The perfect yoga mat will also come in a fantastic range of colors and patterns.  Oh, we’d also like it cheap please!

Modern technology gave us the best solution available at the time in the form of the cheap, best selling, standard sticky yoga mat.  We’ve probably all had one.  But these yoga mats are very bad for the environment and hazardous to our health because of what they’re made of.

Let me tell you why.

PVC
Most cheap yoga mats are made of PVC.  We’re used to PVC and don’t tend to worry about it but, we should.

PVC is one of the most environmentally unfriendly materials ever made.  It’s been banned for certain uses in most of Europe and, most major motor manufacturers don’t use it in motor cars anymore because of the potential health hazards.  PVC is becoming known as the poison plastic. It certainly wouldn’t be part of my perfect yoga mat now.

Phthalates
Phthalates are a cocktail of chemicals added to rigid PVC to make it flexible.  The more flexible it needs to be (like yoga mats) the more phthalates are added.  A PVC yoga mat may be up to 60% phthalates by weight.  Phthalates are not chemically bound to the PVC so, over time, they leach out into the air and onto your skin.  In tests on lab animals phthalates have caused cancer, infertility, testicular damage, reduced sperm count, suppressed ovulation and abnormal testicular development.  They may also be linked to asthma and autism and are known to cross the placenta from mothers into developing embryos. The manufacturers assure us they are safe in humans but the modern alternatives used in Eco Yoga Mats, are better and just as cheap.  So why take the risk.

Dioxins
PVC production is the largest user of chlorine gas in the world.  Chlorine has some very nasty by-products.  Dioxin is one of these.  It has been proven  to cause cancer in humans and is the most potent synthetic carcinogen ever tested on lab animals.

Dioxins damage the immune system, reproduction, development and the endocrine system and have also been linked to birth defects, endometriosis, inability to carry pregnancies to term and decreased fertility.  There is no ’safe dose’. They are soluble in fat so they build up in the body and concentrate higher up the food chain. They also cross the placenta and concentrate in breast milk.

Dioxins are now so widespread that they are found in the tissues of whales, polar bears and probably every human on the planet.  They do not naturally degrade, so they continue to build up in the environment. Why would you want PVC in your yoga mat?

Dioxins don’t leak out of your yoga mat as they are only released during manufacture and destruction of PVC but, just think about the damage to the planet.

Ethylene dichloride
Ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) both cause cancer in lab animals.VCM causes cancer in humans and increased risks of liver, brain, breast and testicular cancer and the workers involved in production have been found to have an increased risk.  Both these chemicals are used in the production of PVC and therefore, yoga mats.

Heavy Metals
Mercury causes neurological, developmental and severe reproductive damage.  Large quantities of mercury are released into the environment in the production of chlorine gas for PVC.  Other additives to PVC can include lead and cadmium.

The saddest thing is that we don’t need to make plastics from toxic chemicals.  We only do it because it’s cheap.  Henry Ford was producing plastics from soy beans in the 1930s!

Going back to the perfect yoga mat –

“The perfect yoga mat will be thick enough to be comfortable but thin enough to allow proper balance and light enough to carry around easily.  It will grip the floor and provide grip for your hands and feet.  The perfect yoga mat will also come in a fantastic range of colors and patterns.  Oh, we’d also like it cheap please!”

But now, we’d also like to make sure it’s not made of PVC please!

No problem – just buy a modern Environmentally Friendly non PVC Eco Yoga Mat.

Take a look at Amazon’s best selling Eco Yoga Mats

Eco Mat Yoga

Wouldn't you rather buy an ecomat for yoga?

Here are two links to independant research articles on PVC, health and the environment.

Our health and PVC: What’s the connection

Environmental impacts of PVC building materials

Eco friendly yoga mats for pregnancy and prenatal yoga

A short article helping you to find the safest, most comfortable, eco mats for yoga during pregnancy.

I almost didn’t publish this eco yoga mat article as I didn’t want to seem to be writing “scare stories” about yoga mats, especially for prenatal yoga, but I think the information is important.

If you’re wanting to practice yoga during pregnancy I would try to avoid using a standard PVC yoga mat.

PVC is becoming known as the poison plastic and the majority of yoga mats are made with it.  Large quantities of chemicals called phthalates are added to PVC to make it flexible.  In lab tests phthalates have caused genetic abnormalities to the sexual organs of male rats.  It is also thought that they can cross the placenta from mother to child.  The phthalate industry argues that there is no evidence of the same effect in humans but why take the risk?

Phthalates are not chemically bound to the PVC so they leach out over time into the air and onto skin that comes into contact with the PVC.

In humans the feminization of boys may be linked to exposure in the womb and phthalates have been banned from use in children’s toys in Europe because of the health risks.

This is quite heavy stuff if you’ve just come looking for a yoga mat.  I’m sorry about that.  I’m not recommending that you give up yoga or that you spend lots of money.  Just consider buying an eco yoga mat instead.  They are just as good, if not better, than standard sticky yoga mats and they can be just as cheap.

On a lighter note ……….. pregnancy naturally increases your weight and many women find that their normal mat just isn’t thick enough to provide the extra cushion needed for knees and ankles.  Standard mats are only 1/8 of an inch thick but it’s possible to buy eco yoga mats 1/4 of an inch thick that are still firm enough for good balance.  If your replacing your yoga mat anyway, then why not go for an extra thick yoga mat for extra comfort during prenatal yoga.

Many expectant mothers also really benefit from the extra support provided by a yoga bolster.

It’s very much a question of personal preference so search the Internet to find an Eco Yoga Mat.  Yoga mats vary considerably in price so make sure you shop around.

Amazon.com very often have the best value eco yoga mats and the hundreds of customer reviews certainly help you to choose the best eco yoga mat.

Check out Amazon’s best selling Eco Friendly Yoga Mats

Eco Mat Yoga

The perfect Ecomat - Yoga on the beach!

Eco yoga mats for kids

A short article helping you to find the best eco yoga mats for kids.

Children’s eco mats for yoga are pretty much the same as adult mats for yoga, just smaller and with a different choice of colors and patterns.

They are popular because kids love to have a smaller version of what mummy or daddy have and children’s yoga mats are much easier to roll and unroll and carry around.

I have one major worry with children’s mats for yoga.  It’s the same concern I have with standard adult yoga mats but it is even more relevant for kids.  It’s also particularly important for pregnancy and prenatal yoga.

PVC
There are some serious health and environmental concerns over PVC.  So much so that it is becoming known as the poison plastic. Most standard sticky yoga mats are made of PVC.  Chemicals called phthalates are added to make them flexible (as much as 60% by weight).

Phthalates are not chemically bound to the PVC so they leach out of the yoga mat over time, into the air and onto skin that comes into contact with the PVC yoga mat.  This is a problem for all of us but children tend to chew and roll around in things like yoga mats.

In lab tests phthalates have caused genetic abnormalities to the sexual organs of male rats. In humans the feminization of boys may be linked to exposure in the womb. Phthalates have been banned from use in children’s toys in Europe because of the health risks.  The phthalate industry argues that there is no evidence of the same effect in humans but why take the risk with a yoga mat?  .

This isn’t meant to be a scare story.  There’s no need to panic.  Just buy a PVC free eco mat for yoga instead.  Modern Eco friendly yoga mats are pretty much identical to standard, cheap sticky yoga mats and they don’t have to cost the Earth.

If you’re buying a yoga mat make sure it’s an eco mat – yoga is all about healthy choices.

Search the Internet for Eco Yoga Mats for Children and find ones that suit you or go straight to the best prices and customer reviews, by checking out Amazon’s best selling Eco Yoga Mats for children

Eco Mat Yoga

Isn't it great to see kids enjoying yoga.

This photo’s from http://www.flickr.com/photos/snapeverything/ / CC BY-SA 2.0