Are you looking for quality eco-friendly yoga mat but aren’t sure if you should spend the money to make the switch? A good, eco-friendly mat will indeed come with a bigger price tag, but they also come with big benefits. If you’re not convinced, here’s five reasons you should make the switch:
Cheap Mats Are Terrible for the Environment (and You)
Wellness is a huge part of practicing yoga — which is why it’s so surprising that so many mats are made with materials that are downright bad for the environment and you. Cheap and expensive yoga mats alike are often made with Polyvinyl Chloride (you probably know it as PVC). One perk of using a PVC mat is that they’re usually really durable and are more affordable—but that’s about it.
PVC is a pollutant for its entire life-cycle. Meaning, from the factory to landfill, the creation, use, and disposal of the material is toxic. Consumers Advocate, which recently put eco-friendly mats to the test and rounded up the best on the market, explained that a PVC plant can emit almost 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride, which is a known carcinogen to humans, along with other toxins into the atmosphere. During use, the material leaches and can expose its users to other harmful chemicals. It’s also nearly impossible to recycle and it’s unclear how long it takes PVC to break down, if ever. Burning it also releases toxic emissions.
Ideally, it’s best to look for a quality yoga mat made from biodegradable, earth-friendly materials. But, buyers beware: not all yoga mats are what they claim to be. During their testing phase, Consumers Advocate sent 10 self-proclaimed eco-friendly and “PVC-Free” mats to a lab.
PVC Can Put Pregnant Women at Risk
Prenatal yoga can offer all sorts of amazing benefits. But, some mamas-to-be might not know that using mats made with PVC could be putting them at risk.
Several studies have suggested that phthalates, which is a synthetic chemical found in several, everyday products and PVC, can be harmful to reproductive health and children. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of certain phthalates in children’s products.
What’s more, two studies from Harvard found that exposure to phthalates can increase both the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes—particularly the one type of phthalate that’s found in yoga mats because it makes plastics more flexible and pliable.
A Better Mat Means A Better Work Out
A quality mat will typically offer plenty of grip that can prevent slips and help with balance. Good traction is ideal for those who love a super sweaty hot yoga session and it can help limit strain or injuries. Luckily there are plenty of eco-friendly materials that rival PVC when it comes to grip and padding, like natural rubber. Ultimately, the more comfortable you are on your mat, the deeper you can get into your poses and make the most of your work out.
You’ll Say “Good Bye” to Aches and Pains
Cheap mats tend to be on the thin side, which can lead to a lot of pain during table positions, lying on your back, or kneeling. Quality mats tend to provide more cushion and support. This doesn’t just ward off joint strain and, again, prevent injuries, but it can help with existing conditions like back pain.
It’ll Help Minimize Bacteria
Many yoga studios clean their mats at the beginning and end of the day, but those busy in-between times can get lost in the shuffle. Because some mats are made of porous materials, sweat (and other germs) can be absorbed into them. Experts say yoga mats can be a hotbed for bacteria, such as fungal skin infections, staph, and even HPV. Ideally, it’s best to BYO-mat and regularly clean it. Certain eco-friendly materials, like cork, even have antimicrobial properties that make it hard for bacteria to thrive.