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Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats for a More Healthy and Sustainable Practice

Every yogi knows the value of a high-quality yoga mat. Here are our recommendations for eco-friendly, non-toxic yoga mats that will take your practice to the next level!

Yoga isn’t just about becoming more flexible, strong, or fit. It also has a strong spiritual component. Yoga helps us focus on the present, reflect on ourselves, and meditate on our place in the universe.

It’s ironic then, that the very thing most people roll out to begin their practice – a brightly colored yoga mat – can harm the environment and their health. 

To help you understand why traditional yoga mats are not sustainable, and what kind of yoga mat you should be looking for going forward, we’ve put together this guide to finding the perfect eco-friendly yoga mat for your practice.

Jump straight into our recommendations in the table below, or scroll down to read more about the various materials yoga mats are made of.

Find out why you should make the switch to an environmentally-friendly yoga mat!

This article may contain compensated/affiliate links. See our full disclosure here.

Comparison of Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats

NameTypeSize (in)Price
Eco-Friendly Rubber Yoga MatTiggar Yoga matNatural Rubber72 x 24Check Here
Manduka eco-friendly yoga matManduka eKOliteNatural Rubber68 x 24Check Here
Recycled rubber yoga matKiss the Sky Yoga MatRecycled Tree Rubber74 x 24Check Here
Natural Rubber Yoga MatVivomora Yoga MatNatural Rubber68 x 24Check Here
Cork eco-friendly yoga matHautest Health Yoga MatCork & Natural Rubber72 x 24Check Here
Eco-friendly cork yoga matRepose Yoga MatCork & Natural Rubber72 x 24Check Here
Body by Yoga Cork Yoga MatBody by Yoga MatCork & Natural Rubber80 x 26Check Here
eco-friendly yoga matSnakuga Yoga MatCork & Natural Rubber72 x 26Check Here
Natural yoga matSud’z Yoga MatHemp & Natural Rubber71 x 25Check Price
Organic Cotton Yoga MatLive Well Yoga MatOrganic Cotton78 x 27Check Price
Sustainable yoga matYaazh Hand Loomed MatSambu Grass72 x 27Check Price
Cotton Yoga MatJadeYoga Yoga MatOrganic Cotton72 x 27Check Price

What are typical yoga mats made of?

Yoga mats were designed to be sticky and cushiony, preventing slipping and adding a level of comfort.

In order to achieve this, companies turned to synthetic materials. Some of these synthetics claim to be environmentally friendly but beware of greenwashing – when it comes to how much less harmful they are, there are a lot of unknowns. 

Let’s look at some of the more common yoga mat materials below. And why they’re not the best choice for a sustainable yoga mat.

PVC Yoga Mats

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a synthetic resin used to make everything from packaging to pipes. PVC yoga mats are made from PVC resin and anti-tearing fiber made into an open-cell (moisture absorbing) or closed-cell (moisture repelling) foam. The resulting mats have a desirable sticky quality. 

PVC yoga mats are hands down the worst for the environment. PVC requires a lot of water and petrochemicals to manufacture. Areas around factories are exposed to vinyl chloride, associated with increased cancer risks according to the National Institute of Health.

PVC contains phthalates, linked to both health and environmental impacts, in addition to other toxic additives. 

It goes almost without saying that PVC is not biodegradable and nearly impossible to recycle. On top of this, disposing of it is hazardous. If it ends up in a landfill, it leeches chemicals into the land. PVCs have even been banned from landfills in many European countries.

If burned, PVC generates a particularly hazardous gas due to its high concentration of chlorine. Far from being eco-friendly yoga mats, these are sadly still the cheapest and most prevalent. 

TPE Yoga Mats

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are synthetic materials that are a mix of a plastic and a rubber. TPE is used to make closed-cell yoga mats, which are more hygienic and easier to clean.

TPE yoga mats were created as part of the quest for a more environmentally-friendly yoga mat, and they are branded as a safe choice. While they don’t contain phthalates, making them a better choice than some other materials, they still do contain plastic.

Since TPE has not been as widely studied as PVC, there are reasons to remain skeptical that TPE mats are completely non-toxic yoga mats.

TPE is technically recyclable, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a facility or company that will do this. TPE is also technically biodegradable, but being part plastic, it is not going to break down as fast as something organic.

If you’re looking for a truly zero waste yoga mat, you’ll need to look further. 

PER Yoga Mats

Polymer Environmental Resin (PER) is another synthetic polymer. It’s plasticized in a way that makes it more biodegradable and less harmful to the environment. However, this still doesn’t mean that it will biodegrade quickly or completely harmlessly.

PER is touted as an eco yoga mat material, but there’s not a lot of research to back this up. Since this material is not yet as widely used and studied, it’s difficult to completely know its impact. For many, the simple fact that it is a kind of plastic is reason enough to avoid it.

Non-toxic Yoga Mat Materials

If you think you need a synthetic mat in order to practice yoga properly, think again. The practice of yoga is thought to be thousands of years old, so certainly there must be alternatives.

While some of these could have existed long ago, most utilize new technology to give their natural mats modern advantages. 

Natural Rubber Yoga Mats

Natural rubber yoga mats are sourced from rubber trees, which produce a milky-white sap that is harvested and then processed. Since rubber tapping does not require a tree to be cut down, it’s a sustainable practice, and rubber mats are made without any plasticizers or additives, making them biodegradable yoga mats.

In terms of performance, rubber offers grip, durability, cushioning, and both open-cell and closed-cell options, making for a great all-natural yoga mat.

On the downside, natural rubber has a smell that puts some people off. It will fade over time, however, and cleaning it with a 50/50 water-vinegar solution reportedly speeds up this process.

Rubber mats can also take a while to break in, and they are heavy, which is something to keep in mind if you plan on carrying it around, or traveling with it.

Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mats

Cork Yoga Mats

Best known as the material of bottle stoppers, cork also makes a great eco yoga mat. Cork comes from the cork oak, which is grown in countries along the Mediterranean. Because only the outer layer of bark is stripped, cork is a very sustainable material that’s biodegradable too.

Cork contains a naturally waxy substance that makes it water- and rot-resistant. In a yoga mat, this provides a nice grip. Cork is also lightweight, so it’s perfect for people on the go. 

Cork mats require more care than synthetic yoga mats, and some have reported mats cracking when rolled up for long periods. Cork mats are also less cushiony and make a better fit for people who like a firm mat.

They are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but if you’re looking for a less smelly, chemical-free yoga mat, this might be the material for you.  

Best Cork Yoga Mats

Natural Textile Yoga Mats

Before synthetic mats, there were mats made of natural textiles. These days you can find zero waste yoga mats made from fibers like cotton, hemp, jute, and grasses. Hemp and jute are more sustainable materials to grow than cotton but less soft.

Sambu mats, made from a tropical grass grown in India that’s known for its cooling and air-filtering properties, may be an enticing choice for those looking for especially non-toxic yoga mats.

Natural textile options are biodegradable. Just make sure the materials are sustainably harvested or organically grown.

Natural textiles absorb sweat and provide some grip, but there’s a greater possibility of slipping. Fibers like jute and dharba also can be coarse against the skin, and these mats don’t provide the same level of cushioning as cork or rubber.

Best Natural Yoga Mats

Mixed Yoga Mats

Many companies blend natural materials to create the best natural yoga mat possible. Cork mats with a rubber backing are especially common, and coarser fibers like jute will and hemp are mixed with other materials for a better overall texture.

While prices vary, it’s possible to find a relatively affordable eco yoga mat in this category. Read the descriptions carefully, however, as many natural materials will also be mixed with TPE or PER. 

The best eco-friendly yoga mat for you will depend on what kind of yoga you practice, your budget, and which factors you value the most. Luckily, the eco-conscious yoga community has created a demand for a variety of natural options, so as long as you stay away from three-lettered synthetics, you’re sure to find one that’s both sustainable and the perfect fit.

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Looking for the most eco-friendly yoga mats to add to your daily practice? We've rounded up the best sustainable yoga mats available.

Neil T

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Thank you, very informative. YogaKargha by AbhinehKrafts is another name I would highly recommend. They have perhaps the most versatile and greatest range of earth friendly yoga mats and meditation accessories. AbhinehKrafts is on Etsy as well and that's where I discovered them. Their customer service is stellar. Totally recommend!

Reha Burrell

Wednesday 8th of April 2020

I'm 74 and need a thicker cushioned mat. I found one but the material used has off gassing that makes me sick. Do you have thicker mats?


Thursday 9th of April 2020

Hi Reha, many of these brands offer thicker mats. I'd check their websites to see what they have that might suit you!


Thursday 28th of June 2018

Nice. These mats are made up of organic substances, so it is eco-friendly and good for health. Thank for sharing with us this wonderful post.


Saturday 19th of August 2017

I am so happy to have come across this post! I cannot wait to purchase one of these. I too have been frustrated with mine and the thought of what it is made of. Thanks so much for bringing these brands to my attention as it has been one of the items that I have let slide!


Wednesday 23rd of August 2017

Yay!!! This makes me so happy! Enjoy the hunt :)


Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Number one seems like the best quality to me and it's pretty!


Sunday 23rd of April 2017

It's gorgeous isn't it?! It's close to the top of my wishlist right now ;)