How to Avoid Toxic Materials in Your Recycled Yoga Mat

How to Avoid Toxic Materials in Your Recycled Yoga Mat

I’ve been practicing yoga for many years and try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. When my old yoga mat wore out, I decided to buy a recycled yoga mat to reduce waste. However, I had some concerns about potential toxic materials in recycled mats. Here’s what I learned about avoiding toxic materials when buying a recycled yoga mat.

Research the Manufacturer

The first step is to research the manufacturer and find out what materials they use in their recycled yoga mats. I looked at product descriptions and contacted customer service to ask:

  • What materials are used to make the recycled mat? The outer layer should be natural or recycled PVC-free materials like cotton, jute, or natural rubber.

  • What adhesives are used? Avoid mats with toxic glues like phthalates.

  • Are there any chemical coatings or flame retardants? Opt for an uncoated, additive-free mat.

  • Has the mat been tested for hazardous chemicals? Ask for test results showing it’s free of heavy metals, phthalates, or VOCs.

Getting detailed information directly from the manufacturer gave me confidence in choosing a non-toxic recycled mat. Brand transparency is key.

Choose Natural or PVC-Free Materials

When researching mat materials, here are some guidelines I followed:

Avoid PVC

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contains phthalates and other toxic additives. [PVC should be avoided] even in “recycled” mats, as these chemicals persist.

Look for Natural Materials

  • Natural rubber, cotton, jute or other plant-based fibers are safer, non-toxic choices.

  • PER (polyester recycled) is a safe synthetic made from post-consumer plastic.

  • TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) are usually PVC-free synthetics.

Ask About Adhesives

  • Hot melt adhesives bind layers together without glues. This is the safest option.

  • Water-based polyurethane is a non-toxic adhesive. Avoid solvent-based polyurethanes.

  • Ask the manufacturer to avoid toxic formaldehyde adhesives.

By selecting a mat made with natural, PVC-free materials and non-toxic hot melt adhesives, I avoided hazardous chemicals in my new recycled yoga mat.

Avoid Chemical Coatings and Flame Retardants

Some yoga mats come coated with polyurethane or other chemicals to make them antimicrobial, slip-resistant, or flame retardant. However, these coatings can contain toxic additives like phthalates and VOC compounds.

When researching mats, I made sure to avoid:

  • Antimicrobial coatings, which contain triclosan and nanosilver
  • Flame retardants like organohalogens
  • Formaldehyde used to bind coatings

An uncoated, additive-free yoga mat is healthiest. I use a cotton yoga towel on top of my mat for grip and sweat absorption. This avoids the need for synthetic coatings while practicing.

Look for Third Party Certifications

Several recognized third party certifications give credibility that a yoga mat is non-toxic and environmentally friendly:

  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
  • OKEO-TEX Standard 100
  • Greenguard Gold certification
  • Cradle to Cradle certified

I chose a GOTS certified organic cotton yoga mat, giving me confidence in its safe, non-toxic construction. Trustworthy third party labels are reassuring when selecting an eco-friendly recycled mat.

Ask About Recycling Program

A good question to ask manufacturers is whether they offer a take back and recycling program when your mat eventually wears out. Some brands like Manduka and Jade Yoga collect old mats to fully recycle or biodegrade. This closes the loop on the product lifespan.

Prioritizing non-toxic materials not only protects your health – it also avoids releasing more hazardous chemicals when the mat is recycled. I’m glad I took the time to thoroughly research materials and certifications to find a safe, sustainable recycled yoga mat. With a little detective work, you can too!