The 6 Best Sustainable Yoga Mats of 2021

Bring finesse to your yoga practice with these Earth-friendly yoga mats

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The modern-day postural yoga movement as we know it starting shaping up in the 20th century, but the yoga mat is a fairly recent invention. With the practice of yoga becoming more dynamic, the humble rug, the equipment of choice of traditional yogis, has made way for mats. Yoga mats make it more comfortable to perform all kinds of poses. They offer great grip, cushion your body from injury, are simple to clean, and are easily portable.

The downside is that a majority of the mats are made from PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride, touted to be one of the most environmentally destructive plastics to have entered our water supply, the air we breathe, and our food chain.

Fortunately, PVC mats are making way for more consciously sourced, eco-friendly materials. More sustainable mats are made from materials such as cork, natural rubber, jute, recycled PET bottles, and even recycled wetsuits. Not only trendy, but they’re also environmentally friendly. So, you can slide into a pose blissfully and guilt-free. 

Ahead, the best sustainable yoga mats.

The Rundown
Our top pick is Manduka’s grippy, supportive and durable Eko Lite mat that’s made from natural rubber.
The Harmony Mat offers great traction, to prevent slipping while you hold a tricky pose.
The thickness offers cushion to your joints, while being spongy enough to support advanced poses.
Best Mat and Bag:
Hejhej Duo at Hejhej-mats.com
Though pricey, Hejhej says its mats can last for more than a decade and its bag for even longer.
This rugged mat has an extra thick recycled cork and rubber blended surface, along with cushioned foam support.
Affordable, lightweight, and non-slip, Gaiam’s jute mat is a great sustainable choice.

Best Overall: Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

Our pick of mats is Manduka’s grippy, supportive and durable Eko Lite mat that’s made from natural rubber, which hasn’t been harvested from Amazonian forests. It took four years for yoga teachers to design this wonderfully textured mat that’s 99% latex-free, zero waste, chemical-free, and doesn’t contain any PVC. Eko Lite is a versatile sealed-cell mat that doesn’t absorb moisture. 

Whether hot yoga or vinyasa, you flow through transitions easily without slipping. Yogis describe it as solid and safe. Weighing five pounds, it’s 71 inches long and 0.15 inches thick, and comes in gorgeous marbled hues and solid shades.

Moreover, through project:OM, Manduka donates 1% of global sales to empower communities. It also has an expansive mat recycling program, LiveOn. For $10, you can send in any threadbare yoga mat for recycling, irrespective of the brand.

Best Non-Slip: Jade Yoga Harmony Yoga Mat

Jade Harmony Yoga Mat

The Harmony Mat offers great traction, making tricky poses a little easier. Great for yoga or pilates, these are Jade’s go-to yoga mats. Made from natural rubber, these 0.2 inch thick mats are 99% latex-free and are available in two lengths (68 inches and 74 inches), and two widths (24 inches and 28 inches). 

Durable, they’re available in more than a dozen fabulous colors, such as Raspberry, Tibetan Orange, Flamingo Pink, Jade Green, and Midnight Blue, adding a pop of joy to your practice. Environmentally committed, the company has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every Jade mat sold. To date, over one million trees have been planted through this partnership. 

Best Extra-Thick: SugaMat Recycled Wetsuit Yoga Mat

suga mat

Just the right heft without being too weighty, the blackish, charcoal-colored SugaMats are 0.2 inches thick but weigh just under 5 pounds. The thickness offers cushion while being spongy enough to slide into poses without hiccups. The company did extensive research and development to create these high-density mats, which can support advanced poses, such as the side crow or the parshva bakasana. 

It takes around one wetsuit to make one yoga mat, and the company offers a 10% discount if you donate one. What we love is that the mats are completely recyclable. Also, once you buy one, you’ll be serviced for life. Their Cradle-to-Grave recycling service means when you can send in your worn-out SugaMat, the company will replace it with a spanking new one at no cost.

Best Mat and Bag: Hejhej Duo

Hejhej Duo

Say hejhej or hello to this lovely duo! We love the German hejhej closed-loop yoga mat made from recycled pre-consumer waste materials and the recycled PET bottle fabric bag combo. With a textured, anti-slip cushioned surface, the mat is nearly 4.5 pounds and is 0.2 inches thick. The bags are available in chalk and grey-aubergine colors, and the mats come in Rather Light and Rather Dark shades.

The bag is waterproof, with a zipper made from recycled fishing nets, while the strap doubles up as a yoga belt. The bag is carefully hand-sewn and the biodegradable hemp logo is gently affixed to the mat. Hejhej has partnered with a workplace for people with disabilities, and the package is shipped carbon neutrally.

For each mat sold, 1€ is donated to the EarthChild Project. Though pricey, hejhej says its mats can last for more than a decade and the bag for even longer. Once worn out, just ship them back free of charge, and the company will recycle them for you while giving you a 15% discount on your next purchase to boot.

Best for Hot Yoga: Yoloha Unity Cork Yoga Mat

Yoloha Unity Cork Mat

The Yoloha Unity Cork yoga mat is perfect for a sweat sesh at your hot yoga class. This rugged mat has an extra thick recycled cork and rubber blended surface, along with cushioned foam support, giving you great traction. 

Anti-bacterial, durable, and eco-friendly, it doesn’t absorb moisture and dries quickly. So you can ditch rolling out a towel on your mat before your yoga session. It is a generous 0.25 inch thick and well-proportioned 84 inches x 30 inches. It lays flat and doesn’t curl up annoyingly at the ends. If the high-performance mat doesn’t conform to your practice, you can refund or exchange it within 60 days.

Best Budget: Gaiam Performance Jute Yoga Mat

Gaiam Performance Jute Yoga Mat

Affordable, lightweight, and non-slip, Gaiam’s jute mat is a blend of renewable natural fibre jute and Polymer Environmental Resin. Though PER is a synthetic material, unlike PVC, it biodegrades gradually in a landfill. A compact 68 inches x 24 inches, it is somewhat on the petite side.

The mat is 0.2 inches thick, giving you good support and cushioning. It is non-slip, so you can use it in your hot yoga practice. However, if your skin is very sensitive, the texture can be slightly abrasive. Before use, it’s a good idea to air it out for a day or two to release the distracting but harmless odor.

Final Verdict

Popular with Yoga teachers and A-listers alike, we love Manduka’s mats and our pick of eco-friendly mats is their Manduka Eko Lite Yoga Mat 4mm (view at Manduka) that is grippy, supportive, and durable. We also like the wallet-friendly Gaiam Performance Jute Yoga Mat (view at Gaiam).

FAQs

How often should I clean my yoga mat?

Experts recommend that you ideally should clean your mat after each yoga session to get rid of the microbes that build up there, especially after a sweaty class or a slick hot yoga practice. But for most people, the frequency varies depending on a host of factors, such as the kind of yoga you practice, the intensity of your sessions, and what the brand recommends for the specific mat you are using.

How do I clean my yoga mat?

Yoga mats usually come with suggestions of how to clean them. Depending on the kind of materials your mat is made of, the simplest and most effective way is a solution of warm soapy water to wash away the grime and microbes such as fungi and bacteria.

An effective DIY solution is to mix equal parts of vinegar and water to which you can add a dash of tea tree oil (too much oil can make your mat slippery). If tea tree oil isn’t a favorite, you can substitute it with any antibacterial essential oil, think eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemongrass. You can also use wipes that are gentle on your skin or special yoga mat cleaning sprays to keep it clean. If it’s a cloth mat, you can even pop it in the washing machine. (Do check the label.)

A helpful tip is to let your mat air dry thoroughly before you stash it for safekeeping, as bacteria can breed in moist environments. It is advised to keep mats, especially natural rubber ones, away from the sun as they can fade under harsh rays and become brittle and crumble.

Can I recycle an old yoga mat?

Yes! You can and you should. Treehugger has covered how you can repurpose your yoga mat after it has reached its raggedy end. Consider making an anti-slip floor runner under rugs, a mouse pad to a bulletin board, and even placemats and coasters. Let your imagination run wild.

Why Trust Treehugger

Treehugger helps readers embrace a greener lifestyle by making planet-friendly choices. With an eco-friendly yoga mat, you can not only perfect your yoga practice but also reduce your environmental footprint.

Author Neeti Mehra is a luxury-industry veteran who’s also committed to sustainable, slow, and mindful living. She also holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Yoga & Tantra from Jnanapravaha.