It seems a bit of a stretch to make your yoga routine environment-friendly, doesn’t it? Some would argue that the positive impact on the environment by just choosing a better yoga mat is minimal, and the health impact due to exposure to potential toxins, negligible.
Indeed, that’s a fair argument. Except that we can discount nearly all individual-lead changes by the same logic. A cumulation of each choice we make is what matters.
So whats wrong with the colourful, friendly looking PVC yoga mat?
Chemicals In A Yoga Mat
PVC or polyvinyl chloride or plastic with the number 3, is a durable, cheap and effective plastic often used to make yoga mats and a variety of other products. PVC is treated with phthalates, lead and cadmium to make it more flexible. All three are known to pose health risks like hormonal imbalances and are harmful to brain development and even cancer. The use of some phthalates has been restricted in the European Union for use in children’s toys since 1999.
Say No To Greenwashing
TPE, PVC-free, Latex-Free – a quick search on google will lead you to gazillions of lists showcasing the best non-toxic and eco-friendly yoga mats. These marketing-terms are meant to inveigle unsuspecting consumers into buying the product, without being held accountable. A brand can get away by making claims about the eco-friendliness of its products because there is no proper regulation in place which requires them to substantiate these claims.
We examined around 20 different products that were listed as the most eco-friendly mats and found them completely lacking transparent information about their materials, sourcing practices and sustainability policies.
Only a handful of these managed to pass our filters.
1. Yoga Land’s Cotton Mat with Rubber Lining
Made in India by traditional weavers of India, this mat is made of 100% cotton and handwoven. It is devoid of any plastics. However, we could not find any information regarding the uses of chemicals in the dying process.
Woven | Hypoallergenic | No Phthalates
- 100% Cotton weave provides excellent grip
- Rubber Base makes it ANTI-SKID and ANTI-JERK avoiding injuries
- Washable with 100% Colour Fastness and anti-skid layer won’t wash away
Find it on amazon here.
2. Yoloha’s Cork Yoga Mat
Cork is one of the most eco-friendly resources. It is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, which enables the tree to live longer. Cork oak trees are able to absorb 3-5 times more carbon dioxide than most trees, contribute to soil fertility, and provide a rich environment in which the local eco-system is able to thrive. Harvested cork oak trees can live up to 300 years.
This yoga mat is a creation of Yoloha, a company founded by a South Carolina based family. In combination with the top layer of cork, their mats are lined with TPE. While not ideal, it quite an upgrade over PVC.
They have also partnered with ReCork, an organisation that helps recycle and repurpose cork and encourage users to send them their waste cork bottle stoppers.
Find it on Amazon here.
Jute is a rain-fed crop grown largely in India and one of the most environment-friendly materials. 1 hectare of jute plant can absorb up to 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide and in return release 11 tonnes of oxygen. Jute requires fewer amounts of fertilizers and pesticides as compared to a crop like cotton and improves soil condition and fertility. It is a fast-growing plant and can be harvested within 4 to 6 months as compared to trees which take 10 to 14 years to mature.
Ajna, the brand behind this jute mat, uses a combination of organic jute on the top layer and PER on the bottom. Polymer Environmental Resin or PER, is a synthetic material that is said to biodegrade in a landfill and is devoid of phthalate. PER, however, remains under-researched and its claims not yet qualified.
Find it on Amazon here.
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