Part 2: Sustainable Yoga Mats
When it comes to choosing and buying a yoga mat there are many factors to consider and no easy solution to ensure you’re making the most sustainable choice. If you are completely new to yoga and don’t want to invest too much time or money until you’ve got some experience and are convinced the practice is for you, buying a second-hand mat is the sustainable choice. It might not be made of the best material or originally from an ethical company, but at least you’re keeping it out of a landfill.
PVC mats – the kind available at shops like TK Maxx or Argos – are usually more affordable than eco rubber or cork, but their quality varies wildly. Mats made from eco rubber or cork begin life more sustainably, but if they are not well-made they can fall apart after a year of use and then you’ve wasted money and resources.
Once your yoga practice becomes a daily routine it is worth spending the time and money to find the right kind of mat for your yoga habits:
- Do you practice hot yoga, or do you sweat a lot, and need one with a lot of grip?
- Do you mainly practice at home or will you be carrying the mat with you on your daily commute?
- Do you prefer a thinner mat or one with a bit more cushion?
For example, when I decided to really invest in my personal practice I knew I need to invest in the Liforme mat (made from naturally sourced sustainable rubber) for several reasons: I am obsessed with perfect alignment so the lines on the mat are key to my practice, it is a thicker mat which is heaven for my knees, it’s very grippy which offers stability no matter how sweaty I get, and it’s heavy weight is not a problem since I mainly practice at home.
Other mats and companies to consider:
- Manduka make both eco mats and high-quality PVC mats that are manufactured with zero-waste and guaranteed for life.
- JadeYoga mats are made from natural rubber and the company plants a tree for each mat they sell (available in the UK here).
- The Asanas make sustainable cork mats, blocks, and wheels to bring nature into the practice of yoga.
And no matter what kind of mat you’ve used, once you’re done with it you can donate it to a homeless shelter, or reuse it yourself. My first cheap PVC mat from Gaiam is now used for extra cushion when I’m practicing headstands and it’s what I use for outdoor yoga. And if you’re looking for non-yoga ways to reuse a PVC mat Gaiam has a handy list of 50 different ideas!
When it comes to the other extra yoga items – blocks, straps, wheels, etc… – the trust is that they’re not necessary. A stack of books is a good substitute for blocks and a yoga strap is just an extra long belt. There is really no need to purchase an entire collection of add-ons to practice yoga.
As I mentioned in my article about sustainable yoga outfits, all you need for a yoga practice, even an Instagrammable yoga practice, is a body and space to move in.