ECO-FRIENDLY YOGA MATS
Best Health|August/September 2021
Do It For The Climate
JULIA ESKINS

Yoga mats have evolved almost as much as the practice itself. The first recorded instances of yoga date back 5,000 years in Northern India, where grass or animal skin rugs were the cushioning of choice for meditation. It wasn’t until yoga was introduced to the Western world and gained popularity as a form of exercise that technical gear arrived on the scene. Today, yoga mats can cushion sensitive joints, make tricky postures like headstands more comfortable and wick away moisture while you sweat through a plank—but they can also be harmful to the planet. The majority of mats on the market are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which is one of the most environmentally destructive plastics.

A recent study shows that only nine percent of plastics are recycled in Canada. With PVC being one of the hardest to repurpose, most mats are destined for landfills. Plus, in order to make PVC more pliable, it is combined with phthalates, a group of potentially carcinogenic chemicals that can leach out of products and into the air we breathe. Yoga is rooted in ahimsa, the principle of having respect and not causing harm to ourselves or our environment, so it may be time to switch to healthier equipment.

Fortunately, more brands are now creating eco-friendly yoga mats out of materials like cork and natural rubber—all without compromising the durability and high-performance functionality we expect from the equipment. That means that it’s easier than ever to have an environmentally sound— and potentially safer—workout.

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