Most yogis are already in tune with nature and the importance of looking after the environment.
Reducing the amount of stuff you consume and only buying ethical products when you do make purchases is one of the best ways to do this.
And arguably, there’s no better place to implement these values than in your yoga practice.
That’s why this article will be exploring some of the best eco friendly yoga mats on the market.
We’ll be focusing on these key areas:
- Why Is Eco Friendly Gear Important?
- What To Look For In Your Eco Friendly Yoga Mat
- The 5 Best Eco Friendly Yoga Mats
- Building Your Yoga Practice On The Right Foundations
Let’s dive right in.
Why Is Eco Friendly Gear Important?
Yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people across the globe taking part in the practice on a regular basis.
But with this growth in popularity comes added demand for gear, which can sometimes lead to lowered awareness and care around quality.
It’s super important that the production of yoga gear is good for the planet and good for people.
And this isn’t just a modern attitude — it’s aligned with all the fundamental principles yoga was built upon centuries ago.
After all, the practice of yoga is about more than just the asanas and pranayama. At its core, yoga is built on the ethical teaching of Ahimsa, meaning non-violence.
In yoga, non-violence means being kind and polite to your yoga instructor and fellow classmates, but it’s also about making an effort to purchase good quality, environmentally-friendly gear that doesn’t harm the planet.
And one of the most important purchases for any yogi is the mat. So how exactly can we identify a reliable eco friendly yoga mat?
What To Look For In Your Eco Friendly Yoga Mat
There are a few important things you need to look out for when buying an eco friendly yoga mat. Here, we’ll take you through some of the core points to keep in mind.
Perhaps the most important thing to look out for is material. Many mats contain PVC (a toxic type of plastic that is used to make most synthetic mats), so it’s best to try to avoid synthetic materials.
Instead, look for naturally-sourced materials like hemp, cork, cotton, or recycled rubber.
#2. Where Material Comes From
Shopping sustainably can be difficult, because, for many of us, the clothes we buy are manufactured in factories thousands of miles away. This means they’ll have to be flown across the world, which leads to serious carbon emissions.
Seeking out products that are manufactured more locally will reduce this impact and give you a better idea of where your eco friendly yoga mat is coming from.
#3. Ethical Labor Principles
You should also concern yourself with the working conditions in the factories making your gear.
All over the world, clothes manufacturers employ workers in poor conditions (as reports by Forbes and The Times have found).
Only buying from companies that stick to a set of ethical labor principles is a good way to ensure you’re buying sustainably.
#4. Eco Friendly/Green Business Procedures
This is a similar point, but it deserves some dedicated time.
These days, the importance of looking after the natural world is clear to most people, and they want those values to be reflected by the companies they shop from.
Check out the green business procedures of each manufacturer and see whether you come across any warning signs.
#5. Community And Charity Programs
Finally, you can often get a decent grasp of the values of yoga and sports clothes manufacturers by exploring what community outreach and charity projects they’re involved with.
These programs could indicate that they’re working to be more sustainable.
The 5 Best Eco Friendly Yoga Mats
If you’ve got sustainable material, green credentials, and workers’ rights at the top of your priority list, you’re in the right place.
Here’s our list of the 5 best eco friendly yoga mats on the market right now.
#1. Manduka eKOlite Yoga Mat
Manduka is a reliable yoga manufacturer, whatever it is you’re looking for.
And when it comes to grabbing a high quality eco friendly yoga mat, they’ve got you covered.
The EKOlite is a premium, lightweight mat, with high-performance grip designed to provide support and stability during yoga, Pilates, HIIT workouts, and various other forms of exercise.
Built to “support both your practice and our planet”, this biodegradable mat is made out of non-Amazon harvested tree rubber, and is 99% latex-free.
Using such sustainable materials is crucial for any manufacturer vying to make the best eco friendly yoga mat.
The EKOlite’s closed-cell surface is ideal for ensuring the mat will never absorb moisture.
This does mean that if you get warm or sweaty at all, the mat will feel slippery. That’s why Manduka recommend putting down a mat towel if you’re doing a hot yoga session.
It’s available in a wide range of color schemes.
#2. Gaiam Performance Jute Yoga Mat
Gaiam’s mission is to push the boundaries of sustainable technology, and its Performance Jute mat certainly lives up to that statement.
Made partly from the natural fibers of the jute plant (a soft, shiny fiber native to the Indian subcontinent), this lightweight, 5 mm mat is durable and sustainable.
Unlike the Manduka eKOlite, the Gaiam Jute absorbs moisture, meaning it remains comfortable during even your sweatiest yoga pursuits (it’s also non-slip, so you don’t need to worry about losing your grip).
Latex-free and made of all-natural Jute and PER (Polymer Environmental Resin), this is definitely one of the best sustainable options out there, although some people have doubts about the nature of PER, which does contain PVC.
In terms of performance and practicality, though, this mat is excellent. It’s also very affordable.
#3. Yoloha Aura Cork Mat
If you’re willing to splash out a bit on a slightly more expensive eco yoga mat, Yoloha’s Aura Cork mat could be ideal.
A 100% vegan product that’s made of cork and contains no PVC’s, latex, plasticizers, or rubber smells, this is possibly the most environmentally-friendly yoga mat on this list.
It’s 6 mm thick and provides an ideal balance of comfort and support, but it remains lightweight too.
The Yoloha Aura doesn’t absorb moisture either, drying in minutes.
Cork mats are also super stylish, with a simplistic, natural finish that communicates the eco-friendly credentials they’re built on.
#4. Jade Yoga Voyager Mat
One of the most crucial things to look out for when purchasing a new yoga mat is that it’s easy to roll up and take out with you.
Anyone who’s attended a yoga class will know how important portability is, and with the Voyager Mat, Jade Yoga have released a product made specifically to go with you everywhere and anywhere.
At 1/16″ thick and 1.5 pounds, the Voyager folds up to about the size of a yoga block, which means it can be slotted into a suitcase or backpack easily.
This mat is perfect, therefore, for anyone that has limited storage space or needs to travel light.
That being said, the Voyager mat is not the best option for daily usage, because its portability impacts overall durability. It can become creased and worn over time, because it’s focused on other priorities.
One of those is the planet.
Jade mats are all made sustainably using natural rubber from rubber trees. They contain no PVC, EVA, or synthetic rubber, and are manufactured in the US. Plus, for each mat sold, Jade plants a tree (with over 2,000,000 planted so far).
It’s also available at a really reasonable price.
#5. Yoga Design Lab Infinity Mat
Grippy, super absorbent, and high-performance, the Yoga Design Lab Infinity Mat is as concerned with sustainability as it is with enhancing your yoga practice.
It’s non-slip, easy to wipe down, and made out of ethically sourced natural tree rubber and recycled polyurethane.
While the rubber base of their mats is biodegradable, it’s worth noting that the microfiber is only recyclable.
According to the Yoga Design Lab website, its products are manufactured in China by BSCI-compliant factories that promote ethical and safe workplace conditions.
They’re also affiliated with Earth Child Project (a program designed to teach the power of yoga in under-resourced schools in Canada, South Africa, and NYC), and $1 from every purchase goes to support urban youth yoga programs in need.
Building Your Yoga Practice On The Right Foundations
There’s a lot to think about when you first start building a regular yoga routine, but having the right mat is an important consideration.
And it’s not just practicalities and performance that most people are looking at when buying a yoga mat; eco friendly credentials are also super important for lots of people.
Ensuring you buy a mat made of eco-friendly materials and manufactured in line with sustainable practices will help ease your mind during sessions and allow you to relax a little more.
So why not grab an eco mat and settle into a relaxing session? And if you’re after more guidance on how to develop a calm, restorative practice, check out our article on the powerful impact of belly breathing.