How green is that “eco” yoga mat really?

March 5, 2014

Yoga Mat

Spend a lot of time face time with your yoga mat? So many mats splash the words “eco” and “biodegradable” in their marketing but are they telling the truth? Long story short, too many eco mats claiming to be green are totally stretching their credibility (some puns can’t be avoided, sorry). It’s pretty astounding how many companies just say their eco mats contain TPE, when TPE is a broad category of synthetic rubber that can be all kinds of things. Turns out most of those “eco” TPE mats are made of styrene-butadiene-styrene – hello, styrene and butadiene are both human carcinogens! I dug up some government reports that document the elevated cancer rates in workers who make SBS. These compounds may not leach necessarily, the way hormone-disrupting phthalates would from run-of-the-mill PVC mats, but these mats are certainly famous for crumbling (proof, manufacturers say, that they’re “biodegradable”). I’d say these mats are less biodegradable (returning to compounds found in nature) and more just degradable, breaking down into smaller bits over time – two totally different things. Creating SBS dust in your home isn’t what I’d call a selling feature. The whole thing makes me want to take a few deep breaths, just not next to most yoga mats.

To get the whole scoop on which yoga mats are full of shivasana and which are in the clear, you can read my whole yoga mat column here.