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 true...lol 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 ecoyogini.blogspot.com