Our premium eco friendly yoga mats are made from organic jute (natural fibre) and PER (polymer environmental resin).
They tick my boxes in terms of being non-toxic, phthalate-free, biodegradable, practical and beautiful. They are also a non-slip with a gripping surface.
All of our mats have full Oeko-Tex Certification
Yoga is said to promote ‘direct intimacy with one’s self’.
Having your own yoga mat makes the practice even more special. Today there are so many options when it comes to yoga mats, it can be confusing about which one to buy. I can put my hand on my heart and say I researched these well and believe they are a good environmental option as well as being beautiful and practical.
What to look for when choosing a yoga mat…
Keys things I looked for when choosing mats for our studio were;
- Toxicity – Most yoga mats contain PVC, are loaded with toxins and emit harmful gases if they are recycled. Most often they are not recycled and end up as landfill. These PER & Jute mats do not contain lead,
- Biodegradable – this was BIG for me. The previous mats I used at Yoga Circle (for over 10 years) were rubber and cotton and 100% biodegraded – but I found out they were more toxic to produce than PER which lead to the research into a new mat supplier
- Obviously the organic jute component of the mat is 100% biodegradable.
- The PER component also biodegrades over time without the harmful emissions that PVC has.
- Practical – It’s all well and good to have environmentally friendly mats but they have to be practical. And for me these are the most beautiful mats I have ever practices yoga on. The breathability of the jute combined with high strength and flexibility the PER, and makes them excellent for grip, balance, durability and comfort.
Yoga Mat Design
The design of the mat was the “icing on cake”. The sacred geometry reminds us we are all connected to the seed of life, while the arrow invites us to move forward inviting love to ourselves and others, on and off our mats
I am a big believer in the idea that “every dollar we spend makes a statement about the kind of world we want to live in. I also believe we can use our dollars to create balance and enhance life in ways that are meaningful to ourselves and the world we live in.
Beautiful flower of life mandala.
I love the invitation the mandala and arrow bring to the mat and enjoy the sacredness the mandala represents. The flower of life is a sacred space; always returning to a point of stillness. It’s evenly spaced, overlapping circles, depicts the evolution of life within the aspects of time and space. Expansive and multi-faceted it represents, our connection to the divine source, the world, our body, our mind, our breath.
For me, the heart-shaped arrow reminds me to focus on and be guided by love, while the feather reminds me to tread lightly; reminding us that sometimes when we are pulled back it is so, we can be propelled forward.
The words ‘Yoga Tribe’ reminds me: I belong. We are one
This is, of course, is what we share when we are in class together: one tribe, deepening our connection with our common source.
If you want more info on why PVC yoga mats are sooooo bad, below are notes from some of the websites I used while researching.
Why PER? Environmental and Health impacts of PVC
PVC has been found to contain a number of unfriendly chemicals and additives. The manufacturing process alone releases 35 lb/ton of particulate emissions and 17 lb/ton of gas emissions. These are a risk to both human health and the environment.
The most common toxins in PVCs are phthalate plasticizers and lead. Phthalate plasticizers have risen a large amount of concern as DEHP and DINP, the most common phthalates in PVC, have been listed as probable carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Studies on animals indicate that the effects of these phthalates may range from gastrointestinal distress to birth defects to various cancers.
Lead can be found in large quantities in PVC and during degradation due to heat and sun exposure, it can be released into the air as dust. Lead has a large range of negative health effects with any sort of human interaction and tends to target the nervous system.
Finally, dioxin is a byproduct of the manufacturing process of PVC as well as its combustion. It is a Class 1 carcinogen according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and may cause reproductive, developmental, hormone or immune system problems.
Vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, is the main chemical used to make PVC. Long term effects have been observed in workers of PVC plants as well as in residents surrounding PVC plants. Interaction with PVC is very common however, among most people as many food packages, children’s toys, flooring, wallpaper, piping and numerous other applications utilize the material. This presents concern for long term health effects proven to exists from extensive interaction with this known carcinogen.
Dioxin is a byproduct of the manufacturing process of PVC as well as its combustion. It is a Class 1 carcinogen according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and may cause reproductive, developmental, hormone or immune system problems.
Recycling and Biodegradability
PVC’s provide more negative environmental impacts for their worth when recycling. Due to the large quantities of additives in PVC, they can be cycled a limited number of times and must be sorted out of the recycling process in most cases. They also emit harmful gases including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen chloride when melted down and thus extensive harm is caused by their recycling. Due to these challenges only approximately 6.9% of plastics are recycled in the USA. PVC’s are also completely non biodegradable and therefore their environmental impact is negative weather they are being recycled or not.
PER and PVC production
The production of PVC requires fewer processing steps than the production of PER, however the additional processing steps required for PER produce a far more environmentally friendly option. PER is produced from PVC and other materials, however the extra processing steps provide a far more environmentally friendly option.
Commonly, PVC is created through a suspension process. Liquid state vinyl chloride monomer is immersed in water in a pressurized chamber and heat treated. During the heat treatment the vinyl chloride begins to polymerize and forms small particles. Once the particles reach an appropriate size for the desired applications the heat treatment is stopped, the PVC is separated and dried.
In producing PER, initially a mixture of acetic tri butyl citrate and liquid-phased stabilizer is made. A second mixture of powder-like poly vinyl chloride, filling agent, light stabilizer uvasorb and fireproof agent is prepared, and then the two complete mixtures are combined. Once combined, the mixture becomes a cream-like finished product which is then baked at 170°C and becomes usable polymer environmental-friendly resin.
Following this process, a number of processing techniques are used to acquire a finished PER product. Most popular is compression molding as the most common use of PER currently is in yoga mats, but there is potential for a number of other processes to be used for differing applications. During compression molding the PER is pressed in a mold by a hydraulic press. Although in most cases compression molding has been replaced by injection molding, compression molding has remained popular where the polymers have been reinforced with a fibre matrix (which is common in PER yoga mats).
PVC production has become increasingly efficient over recent years as its usage has increased. The efficiency in this process and the desire for simplicity in manufacturing yields a resistance to take extra steps towards increasing efficiency in a material’s life cycle. Due to this the three extra processing steps and additional materials to turn conventional PVC into PER appears unappealing. These three final steps are not excessive in their energy or material requirements but they do go above and beyond the minimum requirements to fulfill usage needs.
Benefits of PER
The environmental benefits of using PER over PVC are enormous. Where emissions from PVC production are numerous, PER has little to no harmful emissions even when burned(excluding CO2 which is unavoidable in combustion). PER also does not have any slow emission of toxins and carcinogens, and it is more capable of several recycling cycles. Given that there are fewer harmful additives in PER than PVC it is recyclable without risk of degradation of the recyclate after several cycles. Due to it’s unique composition, recycling PER does not produce the same harmful gases as those produced from recycling PVC.
It is notable that PER does not require phthalate plasticizers in order to achieve the flexibility which is required in many current applications of PVC. Given this fact, it can be seen that the carcinogenic effects are minimized in this way from exposure to carcinogens. Although the filling agents and light stabilizers are not without their threats(occasionally toxic) they remain exponentially more health and environmentally friendly as there are fewer in PER than PVC.
Given all of these benefits, PER is also successful in fulfilling the desirable qualities of PVC. PER is non-slip, water proof and sun protective just as PVC is].These qualities allow PER to be a suitable and environmentally friendly replacement for most PVC products.
Increased interest has come from reinforcing bio-material polymers with environmentally friendly fibres. This method has proven to increase strength while maintaining the materials environmental benefits. Natural fibers, such as Kena and Jute are embedded in a bio-based polymer which has been proven to increase tensile strength in these materials. Bio- based polymers such as those made from soy show great promise in the environmentally friendly polymer industry. The properties of the bio-based polymers alone do not provide enough strength to be useful in a wide variety of applications. Embedded fibers have increased their usefulness in a large number of applications. A direct link between the cross linking of fibers within the material and material strength has been observed.
PERs are a midpoint between bio-composites and PVC that are far more environmentally friendly than the latter, but less so than the former. Embedded fibers show a great potential for use in PER where increased strength is required.
While PER the production process is no more efficient in material or energy use than PVC, it reigns over in its recyclability and end of life. These two factors contribute to PERs life cycle efficiency as they can be reused more easily than PVC. The embodied energy in PVC products and their material processing is approximately 19000 Btu/lb produced. This does not include the energy requirements for recycling this less re-processable plastic nor the energy required for incineration, which is the only method by which some of this energy may be retrieved.
Minimizing raw material use through more recyclable options may be the best and only option that leads to an environmentally friendly polymer industry. The recyclability of PER is the major contributing factor pushing industry towards its use over PVC. PVC is unfavorable as a recyclable material both in the energy required for the process and that the market price for recycled PVC is considerably less than virgin PVC. This makes virgin PVC more favorable to use as one of the contributing factors to PVC popularity is its low cost. Where recycling of PVC does occur, the human labor required to sort it from other plastics is large. Many recycling plants do not want to recycle PVC as its high additive content compromises the quality of the recycled material. PVC can become useless after as few as 2 cycles because the additives comprise up to 60% of its content.
Should a switch to PER occur, as a far more recyclable material it can be done many more times before the additive content becomes too large for the material to be useful. The option of PERs as a recyclable polymer in replacement of PVC appears quite appealing for these reasons. The use of PER as an alternative to PVC has environmental benefits as well as minimizing the need for new materials because recycling will become a viable option again.
End of Life
While PVC incineration may be a more economically viable method of dealing with PVC over switching to environmentally friendly materials, the environmental footprint of this option seems far too large to justify not using alternate options. PVCs may be recycled only a limited number of times and when they can no longer be recycled they will remain in landfills as they do not biodegrade. This issue is exceptionally important to address with PVCs as the leaching of toxins and carcinogens may pose a risk to water quality, air quality and ultimately cause a large amount of human and environmental damage.
Incineration emits a large number of greenhouse and harmful gasses and leaves a large amount of solid waste such as slag, ash and various types of residues. This option may provide some energy, however it is minimal in comparison to the embodied energy in the plastic.
PERs provide an option for end of life that leave little environmental impact. Although they also contribute to landfill space, leaching out of harmful chemicals is not an issue and incineration cause far fewer emissions. PERs also have a much longer life cycle and therefore fewer PER products will reach their end of life in a given amount of time than those made from PVC.