Friday, November 13, 2009

Eco Yoga Mat Guide!

I know I have written quite a few separate posts on each option, but I thought I'd amalgamate the whole bunch into one UBER post for you all linking back to each separate post for more detail! There is so much greenwashing hype going on out there in the yoga community (sad but oh Het, you were so right), that it's tough for an Eco-Yogi/ni to sort through the best option.

What I've done here is reviewed the current eco-yoga mat options from best to worse while considering environmental impact, durability, reliability of claims, performance and price. Of course, what works best for ME as a yogini may differ for others, so the important thing is to evaluate your situation and practice and choose accordingly!

1. Keep using your mat! Alright, so this one is a bit of a no-brainer, but seriously if your mat works why replace it? Those wear marks? They are a visible testament to your love of yoga- "wear" them with joy! If your mat is really falling apart (like yours Dr. Jay!) or you're having an allergic reaction, or you for some random reason need two please please please Recycle or Reuse it!

2. Natural Rubber Mat: eKo by Manduka followed by Jade Yoga Mats and/or prAna Revolution/Natural Eco Yoga Mats.
The rubber mats above are made from renewable resources, the rubber tree. The sap is harvested without any harm to the tree and made into a rubber-like latex substance. Natural rubber by itself is technically biodegradable whereas other types of rubber such as car tires are made from synthetic rubber re: petrochemicals.
Most rubber trees predominantly grow in the Amazon Rainforest and increased demand has resulted in monocrops of rubber, destroying the delicate biodiversity of the Rainforest. My Post.

A) Manduka eKo Mat:
ECO-NESS: Made from non-Amazonian rubber trees, completely free of PVC or plasticizers (re: cancer causing phtalates), use recycled silk and cotton as reinforcement and they have a recycling program for your old mat. According to their partnership with Recycle Your Mat, if you send in your (postage paid) old mat you'll get a 20% discount on your Manduka mat purchase!
These mats are supposed to LAST, approximately 5000 uses (or a lifetime). They are cushy and have phenomenal grip. I've tried out a few and adore their performance and heavy, slightly cushy feel. Minimal rubber scent after it's been broken in.

SKETCH: No real specifics on exactly what they use to bind the rubber together. No info on where the rubber actually comes from or where the mats are made. Also, better check your composting system as these mats require special facilities to process, they won't "biodegrade" that quickly in the landfill or a backyard compost. Price isn't cheap- 70$ for a regular and 42$ for a "lite" (American).
Will degrade in the sunlight and not safe for washing machine. Unsure of colour dyes.

B) Jade and prAna:
ECO-NESS: made from renewable rubber tree. Jade Yoga plants a tree for every mat purchased and prAna has a pretty fantastic renewable energy initiative that is third party certified. Haven't tried either, but have heard that they both have excellent performance, although the Jade mat is definitely thinner than Manduka's eKo mat. prAna revolution mat is wider and longer, nice for Anusara-style practice or taller people.

SKETCH: not sure where they are made or where the rubber comes from. Jade mats have a pretty strong smell and having a longer-wider mat like the prAna revolution also means more energy and rubber used...which a first step is always "Reduce". prAna's price: 90$ for revolution (whoa!) and 68$ for the Neo Natural (same but smaller version). Not sure on chemicals used for colours.

3. Jute or Organic Cotton Mats
ECO-NESS: made from a natural fiber, jute is a renewable and no pesticides necessary to grow! Will biodegrade (as it's a plant fiber) and enhances connection to the Earth. There are some jute-rubber combos that look pretty darn interesting out there!

SKETCH: fair trade and labour concerns as grown in India predominantly by women and children. Not sticky or cushy and susceptible to wear like any fabric. If the cotton isn't organic- than heavy pesticides and chemicals were used to grow the stuff. My Post

4. TPE/Black Mat
ECO-NESS: yep you read right, I placed TPE or Thermoplastic Elastomers in the SAME category as the Black Mat which is PVC. TPE basically means plastic made from non-pvc sources which could be anything. For a longer discussion check out this post, but realistically this stuff is mostly greenwashing hype. The Black Mat is here because it's guaranteed for life and should technically be the LAST mat you'll ever buy. They also have a recycling program and the PVC used to make the mat is the only Oeko-Tex certified. This means that the creation of the mat is carbon and chemical neutral!

SKETCH: TPE is another non-biodegrade "biodegradable" option. Won't compost in your backyard or many municipal composting systems (special facilities required) and ESPECIALLY won't compost in the landfill. When it does break-down it will be in smaller petrochemical versions of itself. Also, Lulu's TPE mats flake off and break down within a few months of use and aren't all that sticky.
The Black Mat is made from PVC and although it should be the last mat you buy (decreasing mats used) it will still be adding to the "plastic is forever" dangerous PVC to the planet, even with recycling. They are PRICEY at 90$ American.

Alright! What a "summary" lol. I hope it will be useful for some of you trying to sort through the greenwash-poo that's out there. :)


article copyright by EcoYogini at


  1. I wish I had this great comparison when I was in the market for a new mat! I went with the Manduka eKo, for all the reasons you listed. (Plus, it was cheaper on eBay.) Thanks for saving other yogi/nis lots of tedious research!

  2. Wow, this is kind of intimidating.

    Should I feel bad that I use no Yoga mat at all? (It's the Ratra way)

    Bob Weisenberg

  3. I HATE greenwashing! This post is really going to help yogis choose a mat that's truly karma free. As far as I'm concerned, using some plasticized piece of poo is breaking Ahimsa! thanks for your hard work!

  4. The cat has finally clawed her way through my yoga mat. Whilst I can probably practice on it at home still it is spraying pieces of pink about the place whenever I unroll it so I think it might be time (after about 7 years) to get a new one so this is timely!

    I do know that Prana mats are made in China (or at least the prana mats you buy in the UK are) so that puts me off.

    The best one I have seen so far is this one -

    but I think it is only available in the UK. If you click on the "more info" bit it answers some questions. I'm not 100% sure about it but it's the best UK one I've found so far.

  5. I own 2 mats...a Manduka black mat that stays at the studio where I do most of my teaching, bought because I plan NEVER to replace it, and Hugger Mugger's slightly less expensive equivalent to my Manduka that goes with me every place else. Again I never plan to have to replace it, which is why I paid the extra $$$ in the first place.

    Last year while I was at a large yoga conference, walking through the market place on a break, the guy at the Jade booth called me over. We were having a nice chat and he was trying to give his "recycle your mat now to get a discount on a new Jade" pitch. Which is fine if I would have been in the market for a new mat, but when I explained why I was carrying the mat I was and that I planned NEVER to need to buy a new one, he seemed almost offended. It seriously made me think about how much his sales pitch was about the environment and how much was simply to make a buck.

  6. LOL
    Did Kevin read this post I wonder?
    Yay Manduka eko light mats!

  7. Excellent post - great job! As always, I find informative and interesting in the same spot: here!

    Thanks for the mat comparisons, I have had mine for years and it's nothing special (this was pre-Eco-ness, my past life) and I don't need to replace it.. but this month I am seeking two mats for my kids. They are young but very interested in yoga, I see it as something we can continue to learn together.

    Want to get them mats that are safe (chemical-wise) and eco-friendly, but still affordable (I don't have $90 each, for mats alone, for gift budget this year). Any specific recommendations?
    Thanks in advance...

  8. Great post and something I hope you don't mind me linking/posting on my blog for others to see. I've now settled with a Jade mat and can't see myself having to get another one anytime soon. It only smelt strongly for about a week though but is so fine now?? I also love the Manduka (practiced on them in studios) but it was easier to get the Jade in Australia at the time I needed a new mat. I've very much into buying something of quality to start with so that I don't need to replace it in a hurry.

  9. Hmm Well I was just searching on Google for some Tarot readings of some Tarot reader
    and just came across your blog, generally I just only visit blogs and retrieve my required
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  10. Halfmoon Yoga in Vancouver now has a rubber mat option: It says the rubber comes from "a responsibly managed rubber plantation."

    Do you have any thoughts on that one? I thought I'd share it here as another option for anyone who might be reading this article to help them decide on which rubber mat to purchase.

    I have a Manduka eKo Mat and am really happy with it. It's very cushy and comfortable.

  11. Hi. This is a really great post.

    Im a bit confused however - as prAna seems to (now)? make their 'eco' mats out of TPE as well - which is the same as Kulae and claims biodegradability. The only mat of prAna's that uses 100% rubber is their $100 'Revolution' mat: Which seems like a great option but is very heavy (4kgs) so not great as a travel mat option.

    Just another aspect that im considering in my shop for a new mat - my reason for buying - i share the same mat with my pa, ma and ocassional guest. I really need my own mat. I will probably invest in two - one for at home/gym use and one for travel use.

    Currently i'm leaning towards Jade/Manduka : I was originally going to with Kulae but i may need to do more research on TPE and see if there has been any breakthroughs since this article..? :)

    Thank you again! this is great feedback.

    1. Hi monKey- thanks for the comment! I checked prana and they do have a natural rubber mat that isn't the revolution mat:
      I prefer the rubber mats to TPE, beyond the greenwashing, they are stickier.
      also, manduka does have a rubber travel mat option:

      Thanks and good luck!

  12. Good info! I am finally going to have to break down and replace my cheap mat. Glad to have also found info on recycling my old one!

  13. I'm using a PVC yoga mat I purchased online I bought the mat two years ago and I go yoga 2-3 times a week. The mat is still in its perfect shape. :)


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