Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Yoga Design Lab #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Yoga Design Lab
Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Yoloha Yoga #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Yoloha Yoga
Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Jade Yoga #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Jade Yoga

5 Eco Friendly Yoga Mats For That Sustainable Stretch


Why should sustainability stand in the way of you and your mid-morning vinyasa flow?

Well, it shouldn’t but…it does because most yoga mats are made of PVC.

And PVC poses (pun intended) a huge risk to any asana advocate. Not only does it expose you to carcinogenic dioxins, especially in child’s pose, but it also has a heavy carbon footprint. 

We don’t know about you, but that makes us feel pretty anti-zen.

So, stand tall, limber up, and take a deep, grounding breath in—because we’re on the hunt for the best eco friendly yoga mat.

For a quick flow, picture digging your heels into an organic cotton yoga rug from Jade Yoga or a Yoga Design Lab made from cork or recycled plastic bottles.

Thanks to these eco friendly yoga mat brands, our daily practice can be worry-free. 

Now Get your ujjayi breath going, limber up your favorite eco friendly leggings, and let’s get down-dog to business.

Oh and for more on how we picked the most eco friendly yoga mats, slide down to the bottom of the article.

*This post contains affilate links

QUICK LINKS FOR SUSTAINABLE YOGA MATS


1. JADE YOGA

Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Jade Yoga #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Jade Yoga
About Jade Yoga

Thanks to their commitment to making the world’s best performing and most Earth-friendly yoga products, we’re ready to salute Jade Yoga as we do our sun salutations. 

For two decades, the brand has been trying to take the slip out of yoga mats—while giving the slip to the unsustainable elements of yoga products. 

They were the first company to make “green” and non-toxic yoga mats and have expanded their range to include not just non slip eco friendly yoga mats, but also mats to suit any yogi and any need. 

Beginner, elite, travel, extra thick, mini, and foldable mats are just a few in the mix of Jade Yoga’s durable eco friendly yoga mat options.  

Jade Yoga’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

While the mats vary in thickness, colors, and foldability, you’ll find sustainably sourced rubber in all Jade Yoga mats—from the best-selling Harmony Mat to the Voyager Mat that folds up small to the XW Fusion large eco friendly yoga mat, which is extra thick and wide. 

The only exception is their organic eco friendly yoga mat: the organic cotton Mysore Yoga Rugs finished with natural vegetable dyes made from herbs like turmeric, cumin, and indigo.

For anyone curious how they transform culinary herbs and spices into yoga mat dye, check out this video

None contain PVC, EVA, or synthetic rubber.

Supply chain & labor practices:

Jade makes their mats in the U.S., which means strict worker safety and wage and hour laws. 

Again, the exception is their organic cotton Mysore Yoga Rug, which is traditionally made in India.

Still, they strive for transparency and you can watch an interview with one of the cotton weavers here

Green business practices:

Jade is operated by a former lawyer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—a good indication that sustainability is a priority for this USA based eco friendly yoga mat brand. They write:

As a family owned company we do not have to answer to shareholders and can put our customers and our employees ahead of profits. While dollar costs may be lower with mats made in China, it is just not worth it.”

Not only are their yoga mats made in an eco friendly way, but they even provide tips for properly recycling / upcycling old yoga mats.

Community & charitable giving:

Jade Yoga plants a tree for every yoga mat they sell—so far, they’ve planted more than two million trees with their partnership with Trees for the Future.

Additionally, they have a campaign where $5 from certain mat purchases throughout the year are donated to causes like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and Autism Awareness Month.  

With the purchase of each Mysore Yoga Rug, Jade provides a week of hot lunch to a child in India through a partnership with the Akshaya Patra Foundation. 

They write, “This not only provides the only meal of the day for many children, but encourages all children to attend school.”

They also have a Community Partners program where people who generally don’t have a chance to try yoga can receive a grant to do so.

These include organizations working with the homeless, prisoners, hospital patients, and underprivileged students. 

Jade Yoga apparently has some pretty flexible heartstrings because they also donate a portion of their sales on Earth Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

Available: Jade Yoga

2. SCORIA

Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Scoria #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Scoria
About Scoria

Looking for a sustainable yoga mat in Canada?

Look no further! 

Scoria was founded and crowdfunded on Kickstarter with one mission: to #SparkTheChildWithin.

Founder Yara became fed up with societal pressures and fear of judgment, which led her to re-examine imagination, playfulness, and creativity*. 

*See also: yoga!

Her brand is dedicated to creating products that serve as a safe space for all to express themselves courageously and fearlessly. Hence their tag: #UnleashTheChildWithin.

Scoria’s range of sustainable cork yoga mats are made for any yogi, and come in unique and beautiful designs.

Scoria’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

Scoria’s mats are made of two main natural ingredients: natural tree rubber and sustainably-harvested cork. Unlike most other mats, you won’t see any synthetic TPE or PVC. 

If you’re looking for an eco friendly cork yoga mat where you won’t have to “fret the sweat”, The Scoria Cork mat (pictured) provides excellent traction—even during a steamy Bikram class. 

Scoria also only uses non-toxic and water-based inks, and they use a light, water-based eco adhesive instead of unsafe glue. They’re also totally biodegradable.

Supply chain & labor practices:

Scoria’s yoga mats are SGS REACH certified.

Assembly and manufacturing is completed in China, while the designs are finished in Canada. These partners are scrutinized to ensure that working conditions and wages are ethical, fair, humane, safe and without child labour.

Green business practices:

The cork used in Scoria’s mats is sustainably harvested from mature trees in Portugal (around 26 years old) every 9-12 years. The sustainable process allows the cork to regenerate on the tree and actually supports the health of the tree by helping it produce more cork. 

Scoria’s mats are green, and so are their shipping practices. Everything comes in plastic-free packaging. 

Community & charitable giving:

Through a partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere, every mat purchase provides ten healthy vegan meals to those in need. From 2017-2020, this partnership provided more than 100,000 meals!  

Feeding Children Everywhere also is committed to using biodegradable packaging and works to bring urban farming to low-income communities.

Available: Scoria (CAN)

3. YOLOHA YOGA

Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Yoloha Yoga #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Yoloha Yoga
About Yoloha Yoga

Yoloha Yoga founder Chris Wiley comes from a family of earth-conscious and outdoorsy individuals. He developed a passion for sustainability at a young age and turned that passion into eco-friendly yoga mats. 

“Yoloha” is where Yoga meets Aloha, a representation of his passion for sustainability, yoga, surfing, travel, and the outdoors.

What a combo…Whether your taste leans toward Buti bright or classic cat-cow cork with delicate ink artwork, they have tons of vegan and non toxic eco friendly yoga mat options.

Yoloha Yoga’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

The popular Aura Cork Yoga Mat and Original Air Cork Yoga Mat are made from sustainably-harvested cork and a supportive USA-made foam bottom. The Unity Cork Yoga Mat is made from recycled cork and rubber, and also features a foam bottom. 

All Yoloha mats are free of PVCs, latex, plasticizers, and that awful all-rubber smell. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Instead of harvesting entire cork trees, the bark is stripped by hand every nine years. More than 100,000 people are involved in the harvesting of the cork, all of which receive fair wages

Yoloha mats are made in the USA.  

Green business practices:

The cork used in Yoloha’s products is grown in the Mediterranean region, where 6.6 million acres of cork forest span across Tunisia, France, Morocco, Italy, Algeria, Portugal, and Spain.

Second to only the Amazonian Rainforest, this area boasts one of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity! 

With this in mind, no bark is wasted during the sustainable harvesting process. Cork residue is used to make other products and cork dust for fuel. 

Not only does the bark shaving harvesting process keep the tree healthy to produce more cork, but it also allows it to capture more carbon during regrowth.

Harvested cork oak trees absorb up to five times more CO2 than one that isn’t harvested. 

Community & charitable giving:

Yoloha gives back by making their products more accessible to those who may need them most. Military personnel, first responders, medical staff, and teachers all get a 20% discount. 

Yoloha also works with youth organizations, veteran programs, and health care worker groups to provide funding and free yoga mats. 

You can also shop for a “yoga mat that gives back”. For example, the current Ancestors collection allocates $25 from every purchase to the Loveland Foundation.

Available: Yoloha Yoga

4. MANDUKA

Image by Manduka
About Manduka

Manduka is a big name in the yoga world.

Their products are designed by yogis and trusted by more than two million customers worldwide. 

Crafted using simple, natural, enduring, and renewable materials, Manduka’s extensive and colorful range means they have an affordable eco friendly yoga mat for everyone.

What started with a simple black mat has evolved into quite the selection of PRO mats, GRP mats, Foundation mats, and—our personal favorite, as the most sustainable yoga mats—eKO mats

Manduka’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

The natural eKO mats (available 1.5mm, 3mm., 4mm, and 5mm thick)  are made with biodegradable non-Amazon natural tree rubber and are zero waste manufactured.

They’re also free of harmful plasticizers and foaming agents to soften the rubber. 

Additionally, natural cotton and polyester is blended for reinforcement (instead of all polyester). Because of that, however, it doesn’t seem as though the whole mat is biodegradable even though the main material is.

We’ll be double checking with the brand on this, but for now consider them non-compostable.

The PRO series mats are made with high-quality PVC (which is something we’d avoid). However, they are manufactured with zero-emissions and are guaranteed for life.

Supply chain & labor practices:

Conservancy and transparency are important for Manduka, which is why they search for innovative partners that respect the land and the people making mats. We’ll be reaching out to learn more about specific partners and manufacturing locations.

Green business practices:

Carefully selected materials are combined with thoughtful design to produce the smallest environmental footprint possible. For example, their post-industrial scrap materials are thoughtfully collected and repurposed in the production of other materials. 

They also help you repurpose old mats.

Through their LiveOn mat recycling program, Manduka customers can send back their old mats after ordering a new one. While the program costs $10, Manduka accepts and brand of mat. 

Community & charitable giving: 

Once you donate an old mat, The Renewable Workshop recycles it into materials (like apparel, running tracks, and home insulation) used to improve communities around the globe.

Available: Manduka

5. YOGA DESIGN LAB

Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Yoga Design Lab #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle
Image by Yoga Design Lab
About Yoga Design Lab

Yoga Design Lab was born out of a trip to Bali (the quintessential place of yoga dreams).

Founder Chad Turner wanted an alternative to unoriginal, mass-produced yoga mats.

He made it happen “by blending fashion-forward design elements with innovative functionality and bio-renewable consciousness.”

Choosing better products for our planet and practice is possible with YDL’s range of natural and recycled eco friendly yoga mats. Because of their intricately beautiful designs and eco friendly materials, we’re so down for that downward dog on a colorful YDL mat. 

Yoga Design Lab’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

There are three main sustainability stars of the show for YDL’s large eco friendly yoga mat range: natural cork, natural rubber, and recycled PET microfiber (made from recycled plastic bottles).

YDL’s 3.5mm Combo Mat consists of natural tree rubber and recycled PET microfiber, and its prana-popping color comes from water-based inks. Their 5.5mm Cork Yoga Mat is made from biodegradable natural, antimicrobial cork, and rubber. 

Looking for a sustainable travel yoga mat?

The ultra-thin 1.0mm Travel Yoga Mat is made from tree rubber and also has an absorbent recycled PET microfiber towel layer.

All YDL vegan yoga mats are free of silicone, toxic glue, and phthalates, and only use water-based inks. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Yoga Design Lab gets a gold star for “sustainable” but  a tbc on “ethical”. Unfortunately, we could not find any info on their supply chain. We’ll be reaching out for specifics on the labor side of things.  

Green business practices:

The natural tree rubber base of YDL mats is biodegradable. Microfiber tops are recyclable, but may only be accepted by certain local recycling centers.

Community & charitable giving:

The Dalai Lama believed, “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

That’s why $1 of every purchase goes towards supporting Urban Youth Programs in South Africa, NYC, and Canada. 

Available: Yoga Design Lab

WHY CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE AND ECO FRIENDLY YOGA MATS

If we’re getting real close to our yoga mat while in child’s pose, we’d like to steer clear of any PVC – a material found in most yoga mats.

What is PVC and why is it bad?

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a cheap plastic made from petroleum and chemicals (like vinyl chloride, which is known to cause cancer in humans). 

Combine this with some phthalates (endocrine / hormone disruptors and known carcinogens) that make the PVC soft, pliable, and grippy, and you’ve got a recipe for most yoga mats on the market.

According to the CDC, exposure to PVC’s toxic chemicals can cause:

  • Worsening asthma and allergies
  • CNS and respiratory system disorders 
  • Liver damage
  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Type II diabetes 
  • Recused fertility 
  • Danger to unborn children (it’s been found in breast milk!)

Kind of makes you want to skip your next hot yoga class, doesn’t it? If you’re temporarily stuck with a PVC pad, fear not: just cover it with a cotton towel or some layer so you reduce contact with it. 

But the worst part about PVC?

There’s no safe way to recycle or destroy it. That pretty purple PVC mat of yours will exist forever. So throwing it away isn’t even a great option. 

Instead, try recycling. Some yoga mat recycling programs can put them to a less harmful use. You can think of ways to repurpose them, too, outside your home of course. Like a non-slip underlay for your home’s welcome mat?

For more on why we should avoid PVC, this video by the Safe Water Advocacy Alliance sums it up nicely.


HOW WE FOUND THE BEST ECO FRIENDLY YOGA MATS

We like to use our sustainable and ethical fashion criteria for anything that ends up in our homes or closets. 

So then, what do we like to stand on while perfecting our tree pose? 

First let’s talk about materials, and let’s try to stretch a little deeper here since it’s so important with this topic. While yoga mat materials look a lot different than the sustainable fabrics found in say, ethical activewear, they share similar characteristics. 

We always look for materials that are eco-friendly (i.e. renewable and ideally biodegradable) and are safe. Savasana is not so relaxing when you’re thinking about toxic chemicals.

We need PVC alternatives for yoga mats to lighten the aura around the yoga mat market. 

Unfortunately, we not only need to look out for PVC but for the greenwashed assumption that PVC-free is the same thing as non-toxic.

Irena Webb’s (of I Read Labels for You) guidelines were incredibly eye opening. As it turns out, even many “non toxic” yoga mats are not nearly as non toxic as they claim and can still contain carcinogens and known cancer-causing additives. 

These include mats made of any of the following synthetic PVC replacements: 

  • Synthetic rubber: Still heavily petroleum-based and full of carcinogenic styrene. Avoid this as much as PVC.
  • PER (Polymer Environmental Resin): Basically just PVC that’s been plasticized and stabilized with acetyl tributyl citrate, instead of phthalate-based plasticizers. 
  • TPE (Thermo Plastic Elastomer): Another petroleum-based product that often has undisclosed additives. While not all TPE mats are bad, it’s almost impossible to tell which ones are truly non toxic. 
  • EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate): Petroleum-based but chlorine free. However, that means formaldehyde is a common replacement.

Are mats made of these less harmful than PVC?

Well, considering PVC is one of the most dangerous and insidious plastics on the planet, yes, but the bar is pretty low.

Here are much better non-toxic yoga mat materials to look out for.

Natural rubber is a totally renewable resource made by tapping natural latex of the tree, in a process similar to tapping for maple syrup. We can feel good about rubber being coupled with cork fabric (like with most of these brands) because cork harvesting is necessary for healthy growth of the cork oak tree. 

While we didn’t see many other materials used with these eco friendly yoga mat companies, we also keep an eye out for jute, hemp, and organic cotton for our morning flow routines. 

Similarly, when we are looking to buy an eco friendly yoga mat, we check to make sure that only natural eco dyes and adhesives are used.  

Beyond sustainable yoga mat materials, we looked for the following criteria:

Supply chain and labor practices:

Fair wages and US-based manufacturing make us feel extra pumped for that 5am ashtanga class.  

Because we’re focusing on eco-friendly and sustainable yoga mats for this article, we didn’t prioritize transparent supply chains as much as usual.

Unfortunately, the yoga mat industry still has some catching up to do here, so we’re looking forward to updating this article with more details on the ethical labor practices after reaching out to these brands. 

Green business practices:

Clever reuse of materials, eco-friendly packaging materials, practices to reduce waste, and tips for recycling yoga mats always get an A+ from us. 

Community & charitable giving:

Companies that are in existence for reasons that go beyond profits are big in our book. We love to see them giving back, whether it be through donations, events, or simply cultivating a caring Community.

Karma is a Buddhist notion, after all.


FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE MOST SUSTAINABLE YOGA MATS

When you hit the mat, the last thing you want on your mind is… well… anything.

Concerns of toxic chemicals and off-gassing will mess with even the most focused-flow. 

Which is why it’s so important to consider what makes the best eco friendly yoga mat. After all, sustainability is just as important as stretching—especially when our health and the health of the planet are at risk. 

Whether your goal through yoga is mindfulness and meditation, or just a killer Paschimottanasana pose (aka back body intense stretch pose), you should be able to flow free from the worries of the environmental footprint of your mat by supporting one of these brands.  

Now over to you, yogis: give us some of your thoughts and share your yoga-inspired wisdom.

What’s the most sustainable yoga mat in your opinion?


Why should sustainability stand in the way of your mid-morning vinyasa flow? It shouldn’t! So, here's the best eco friendly yoga mats.  Image by Manduka #ecofriendlyyogamats #sustainableyogamats #sustainablejungle

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