When you buy a yoga mat or gym mat, make sure you check exactly what you are buying so that you don't have your downward dog nose in a mat of toxic chemicals. Many Yoga Mats are are still made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, one of the more toxic plastics. And worse, PVC is also not biodegradable so it will be saluting the universe in landfill long after you and your yoga days have passed.
Many of the most commonly sold mats are made of the plastic, PVC. Polyvinyl Chloride. This means that while they might be cheap to buy, they are not cheap for the environment as they are made from fossil fuels, are plastic and don't break down.
PVC is not only bad for planet, it's also bad for people as PVC 3 plastic contains (among other SVHCs*), di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) which is an endocrine disruptor and a know carcinogen. By now, you, like me, are probably thinking that PVC is a bit of an odd material to make a yoga mat out of... And you are right, but it is sadly true.
There are many excellent options for health and earth friendly yoga mats. Choice depends on how you practice yoga and how you use your mat - natural rubber, cork, jute or hemp. There are many excellent yoga studios and mat sellers around like Second Earth, who understand both yoga and durable mats that work. They also make a planet commitment to 100% sustainabile, non-toxic, ethically sourced material.
If you have a PVC mat you are looking to replace, please recycle it or reuse it. PVC is bloody awful and difficult to recycle from home.This is because both the chlorine content and the various chemical additives used to make the material flexible, increase material stability and usage properties; simply require a commercial level specialist recycler to deal with.
Many Yoga Studios like LovEarth Yoga Goods will either trade your mat when you buy a new one or simply take your old one and donate it to studios in need, shelters or aid groups.
PVC MATS - REUSE: You can recycle through your local community hub or LovEarth, but there are many many uses for a soft old yoga mat. Any place around your house that needs any kind of soft padding is a potential use for a reinvented piece of mat. Under lounge chair legs or cupboard legs on the floor, under any plate, bowl or container that you don't want to slip. You can use it like a swag when you are camping.
BUY BETTER: It's very easy to access a better mat that will support both your health and the planet's health. Jute, natural rubber, cork or hemp.
*SVHC = Substances of very high concern