The essence of yoga is balance and harmony, with the beneficial adjuncts of good health, fitness, mindfulness and the utter portability of the practice; you can do yoga almost anywhere. You’re taking care of body, mind and soul in a respectful way by doing yoga, so extending that effort to the use of the best eco friendly yoga mats is not just practical, but integral to the philosophy of yoga.
There are hundreds of yoga mats available in shops and online, so which ones are eco friendly, of outstanding quality, and suit your requirements best? To enable you to spend more time practising yoga and less time researching, we have distilled the array of yoga mats, focussing on eco friendly yoga mats, into a handy, easy-to-reference list. We’ll focus on the pros and cons of each brand and type, and suggest our top three picks to help keep it simple.
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What Makes a Yoga Mat Eco Friendly?
Since virtually all yoga mats are roughly the same size and thickness range, and used for the same purpose, what sets apart an eco friendly yoga mat from others is the materials it is constructed from and how it is manufactured. To some degree, the treatment of the humans that take part in the manufacturing process is also a factor.
Try to ensure the eco friendly yoga mat you purchase is free of phthalates and poly vinyl chloride (PVC), and virtually any contents labelled by 3- or 4-letter “terms” such as BBP and DEHP that contain chemicals you, or workers who are making the mats, would not want to be exposed to.
Most yoga mats are manufactured from some form of malleable material such as rubber. The need for them to be rollable and to contour to the body sets the proclivity toward flexible synthetic materials. An increasing number of makers are turning to cork, which is 100% natural (from the cork tree), but there is a reason why wineries have moved from natural cork to synthetic or “Stelvin” closures (screw caps); cork trees take decades to mature and cork is in short supply.
Hemp is easy to grow, renewable and diverse in its applications. We predict this material becoming more and more popular for eco friendly yoga mats in the future.
Your embracing yoga should be free of guilt and worries that you are somehow contributing negatively to materials and people (read: the planet). Renewable resources are key, such as the sourcing of the ingredients used to make the yoga mats. For example, SugaMat makes theirs from recycled wetsuits; that’s a win/win by any definition.
In the end, your decision should be made consciously and by comparison, not based solely on price or fashionable colours. Ask yourself, “Would I wear this product next to my skin and is my conscience clear when I do?” Self-honesty is part of what practising centric exercises like yoga is all about. Think before you leap.
What Factors Make a Yoga Mat Outstanding?
Because people who practise yoga come in all shapes and sizes, with a range of mobility, comfort is usually the key factor in choosing a yoga mat. People become discouraged when they are doing any form of exercise and endure pain, so the more comfortable, the better. As such, pay particular attention to the depth of the yoga mat and try to ensure it is a minimum of 4mm deep; 8mm is better.
While it may seem obscure, the temperature of a yoga mat matters. Some materials heat up with your body temperature, and any form of exercise, especially hot yoga, will increase that. If you’re a naturally chilly person, you won’t want a mat that feels cool to the touch, and vice versa. A consistent temperature is best, and that has a great deal to do with the material the mat is made from.
Portability is essential, but because yoga mats are designed to roll up, the difference between eco friendly and non-eco friendly mats is negligible outside of general flexibility. Having said that, those that have an easy strap/handle for rolling and carrying are preferential.
Colour does affect most people, and colours are made from pigments, which may or may not be natural. Colour is proven to have psychological effects on humans, so a range of colour options may enhance a product’s popularity.
Ultimately, the best yoga mats will be those that align with the essence of yoga, and be eco friendly and comfortable, as well as durable and safe. Most people who practise yoga don’t mind paying a little extra to get an outstanding yoga mat that will last.
Our List of Pros and Cons for Eco Friendly Yoga Mats
Assuming that you are determined to buy the best eco friendly yoga mat that you need and can afford, we have compiled this list of products for your perusal. It factors in three main components for each brand/manufacturer: 1. what materials are used; 2. are the materials responsibly sourced; and 3. any other component that is valid.
Virtually all of these brands are available online as well as at bricks-and-mortar stores. Some retail outlets are located only in a limited number of countries; all can be shipped. We have not listed exact prices because they change so quickly, and vary from country to country; plus, the popular ones are often out of stock and some go on sale at reduced prices. That is something you would need to check locally.
Before the list, an explanation of a few product materials.
Rubber. This is a widely used natural element that grows on rubber trees mostly in tropical climates. It is naturally elastic, and has a fairly long durability, but it is prone, over time, to natural deterioration. Rubber trees are tapped for their latex (think of the milky substance you find in dandelion stems), which is then manufactured into rubber. Latex is inherent to rubber and some people are allergic to latex.
Phthalates. This is a group of chemicals that are in widespread use in manufacturing of all sorts. Phthalates are durable, diverse and are often used as a solvent to soften and make other forms of plastic more flexible (like yoga mats). They are common and used in items such as personal care products (nail varnish, deodorants, etc.), packaging, detergents, toys, and home improvement supplies such as flooring. Phthalates are known to cause issues with internal organs and the reproductive system, and affect asthma and attention disorders; they are to some degree regarded as carcinogens. The more phthalates in a product, the worse.
Thermoplastic Elastomers (PTE). These are a blend of rubber and plastic, with claims of low toxicity. They are free of BPA, lead, phthalates (see above) and dioxins.
Let’s examine these 27 top brands and see how they stack up, keeping in mind that if you are one of the many who are allergic to latex, you may need to avoid rubber altogether.
27 Best Eco Friendly Yoga Mat List
Manduka eKO® Mat
Pros: Biodegradable, non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber that uses “non-toxic foaming agents” (not sure exactly what that means) and non-AZO dyes; AZO dyes are commonly used in textiles and can be hazardous. Naturally gripped surface.
Cons: Made in Taiwan, so if you’re looking for local, this might not be it. Limited colour options. Although they are 99% latex-free, this may still be an issue for those with latex allergies.
Pros: Textured surface for good grip, sustainable material. Two-sided use. “Toxic-free” manufacturing process.
Cons: 100% TPE. Cannot be naturally sourced, as it is a polymer, not natural.
Pros: Available in a two-colour combination. Good depth of 6mm thick. Non-slip, reversible.
Cons: The material is something of a mystery; we think it must be synthetic, which has its own pros and cons, depending on what it is. While Gaiam does indicate what the product doesn’t have (PVC, phthalates), it does not say what it is made of, but it does claim to be latex-free.
Yoloha Original Air
Pros: Responsibly sourced cork. A family business that has thoughtfully combined “yoga” and “aloha” to form their name. Some of the patterns are truly gorgeous.
Cons: very expensive; 3 to 4 times the price of most other yoga mats, but cork is not a cheap commodity.
Jade Yoga – Jade Fusion & Jade Harmony
Jade Yoga – Fusion & Harmony.
Pros: The “Fusion” version is made from responsibly sourced rubber and good for all levels of yoga practice as well as pilates. It claims excellent grip, comes in two lengths, good if you’re tall, and is a cushy 8mm thick. Maybe the biggest plus is that the company has donated more than two million trees to the Trees of the Future organization.
Cons: 99% latex-free (not okay for people with latex allergies), pricey. Only available in four colours.
Pros: Made from responsibly sourced wetsuits, a brilliant idea, well executed (rubber does wear out over time and loses its elasticity, so this makes use of a commonly discarded “fabric”). So, rubber, but recycled. Gold star for concept! And not expensive, either, but nice and deep at 5mm with excellent grip (think: winter tyres).
Cons: Because it’s rubber, there must be a bit of latex, so dubious for those with allergies. Available in mottled black or mottled black.
Pros: 100% natural jute, responsibly sourced and a portion of revenue is donated to the Karma Project (clean water supply). Available in extra-long sizes and 8mm thick, so the thickest yoga mat we found. Mid-range pricing, biodegradable and recyclable, easy to clean and with no lead, heavy metals, latex or phthalates. Most eco yoga mats do not carry a guarantee; this one does.
Cons: We admit to not being able to touch a jute yoga mat, which would be necessary given that jute (like the string you use to bundle old cardboard boxes) is very coarse, so we can only assume it’s been treated to make it softer, hopefully by natural means.
Ekaminhale Yoga Rugs
Ekaminhale Yoga Rugs.
Pros: 100% responsibly sourced, organic cotton, non-GMO (good or bad, depending upon your view of world hunger) and coloured with organic dyes. Made by hand in small villages in India, not in big factories; we assume this means they support local communities, and probably women. Medium price and 5% of profits are donated to charities.
Cons: Only 3mm thick.
Urbivore Cork Yoga Mat
Urbivore Cork Yoga Mat.
Pros: A cork surface with black natural rubber base. Good for hot yoga, and with particularly good traction. Least expensive yoga mat that contains cork. The company is involved in a tree-planting program; let’s hope it’s cork trees.
Cons: No mention of responsible sourcing. The usual nasty new rubber smell.
Wild Hemp Yoga Mat
Wild Hemp Yoga Mat.
Pros: The product has no responsible sourcing claims, but is made with organic hemp and the trim is organic cotton, so that’s a plus. Upper middle price tag, but we’ve listed this as a Pro, not a Con, because the company takes exceptional care of the workers and their families; that comes at a cost. Handmade in Nepal. Not just rollable, also foldable to make it flat.
Cons: Some peculiar terms here; what is “wild nettle fabric” and “natural padding” we wonder?
B Mat Every Day
B Mat Everyday.
Pros: 100% rubber, no mention of being responsibly sourced, but a decent 4mm thickness. Made in Spain, and sold at a middle price ticket. Good value, we believe. Available in deeper colours that hide stains.
Cons: Not good for people allergic to latex.
Pros: All the upticks of natural cork as it is antimicrobial, no problem in sweaty situations, washable, recyclable, and lacking any discernable smell (like rubber mats have).
Cons: Lack of clarity on ingredients; it claims to be “virgin cork and rubber sap”, so there is glue of some sort and latex. We wonder if virgin cork is simply cork that has not already been recycled (drink more wine!). Also, just 3mm thick, although we have learned that because of the density of natural cork, it has a concentrated, spongy quality that makes up for to some degree for thickness). Price point appears to be a big secret.
Yoga Design Lab
Yoga Design Lab.
Pros: While it doesn’t state it is responsibly sourced, it is made of biodegradable natural cork and rubber, using water-based inks, and promises no silicone, PVC or phthalates. High-density 3.5mm depth. Very attractive black mandala design on natural cork. Antimicrobial, non-slip (in fact, the makers suggest you spray the surface lightly with water to increase grip).
Cons: Save up your money or tap a rich relative; this one’s expensive (still not in the Lululemon fiscal stratosphere).
Pros: Natural cork and rubber. Easy-on-the-joints 5mm thick and available in a long version for longer humans! Only three colours, but very strong ones: red, blue and violet. Claims to have an “extreme-grip surface”. Middle range pricing.
Cons: Not okay for latex allergies.
The 2nd Wind Health
The 2nd Wind Health.
Pros: Interesting Polynesian turtle artwork, no latex (odd given that it contains rubber) and a comfy 5mm deep. Cork is naturally antimicrobial, making it okay for outdoor use, but it’s also pricey and this mat hits the upper middle price register (more of a Con, really, but the quality seems to be there). Repels sweat, so good for hot yoga.
Cons: It sounds good to start with: natural sustainable cork and rubber, using water-based inks, and with no glue or latex (which rubber is made from...), but takes it down a notch by claiming, “no toxins”. Ahem.
Pros: Natural rubber that is three layers, fused. Four colours, good grip and biodegradable.
Cons: doesn’t appear to have the features that justify its very upper middle price point. Only 4mm thick, which is on the low end for rubber yoga mats.
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Yoga Mat
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Yoga Mat.
Pros: Reasonably priced, natural rubber, five colours, nice and thick at 6.5mm. Available in an extra-large size.
Cons: Not okay for those with latex allergies. “Mugger”? Hopefully the label just reads: yoga mat.
Yogasana eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Responsibly sourced 100% cotton in seven jewel-tone colours, hand-woven in India. Very good value in a lower middle price range. The big plus to these yoga mats is a 15-year warranty. Compared to how rubber can deteriorate and need to be replaced every few years, this makes the price point even better.
Cons: Not very thick, no real anti-slip qualities.
Hejhej-mats eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Responsibly sourced, but we’re not sure from where, “recycled secondary raw materials”. Oxymoron? Cushy 5mm thickness. Made in Germany.
Cons: Very expensive, upper price point but not as out there as Lululemon. Website is in German.
We’ar eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Natural rubber, non-toxic and recyclable. Lower middle price point (roughly $100 USD). Non-slip and durable.
Cons: Your favourite colour must be blue or blue.
Bowern eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Available in a variety of colourful patterns, made from 100% biodegradable and recyclable rubber. Upper middle price point, but unique designs.
Cons: Has a micro-fibre (!!!) suede top. Sounds like a decor item, not a yoga mat.
Lululemon eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Complies with the Forest Stewardship Council. 5mm thick and made from sustainable, responsibly sourced natural rubber.
Cons: Extremely expensive! Contains polyurethane. Antimicrobial, but not naturally (like cork is); it’s an additive. Not washable and must be wiped down after each use to keep it clean.
Muktimats eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Natural tree rubber and jute fibres. Responsibly sourced; sustainable. Rubber on one side, jute on the other equals good grip. Middle price point. This yoga mat is that it is shipped without using plastic packaging, which is very cool. Not made in sweatshops.
Cons: Beware the overuse of “natural”; motor oil is natural. Contains latex; only 4mm thick.
Second Earth eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: All-natural tree rubber and jute fibres. Responsibly and ethically sourced, biodegradable, vegan-friendly and made in Australia. These are non-slip and made using a carbon-neutral process. While these mats are in the upper middle price bracket, the company offers a budget payment plan.
Cons: More suited to doing yoga on Bondi Beach than in a studio, and only 3mm deep, so you need sand under that to be comfortable.
Affirmats eco-friendly yoga mat.
Pros: Jute blend. We suspect this is a better version than pure jute, as it would likely contain less abrasive materials. Contains no metals, latex or phthalates, 5mm thick and slip-resistant.
Cons: Only comes in black.
Barefoot Yoga Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat
Barefoot Yoga eco-friendly yoga mat. This company (Barefoot Yoga is a distributor, not a maker) claims to have the “original eco yoga mat”, but we’re not sure how to verify that, or if it even matters who did it first.
Pros: Medium price point, two sizes, made in the UK from all-natural, biodegradable rubber and jute fibre, responsibly sourced.
Cons: Contains latex.
Dragonfly TPE Lite
Dragonfly TPE Lite Mat.
Pros: Budget-friendly and okay for people with latex allergies as they use no latex, or PVCs and rubber. This Thermoplastic Eslastomer (TPE) is regarded as “earth happy”, so not toxic like some TPEs.
Cons: Navy and black is the only colour; at 3mm thick, not likely to be the most comfortable.