In 2008, Yoga Journal's "Yoga in America" reported that 6.9 percent of U.S. adults, or 15.8 million people, practice yoga. The study also showed that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including yoga mats, clothing, and media (DVDs, videos, books and magazines). (image source)
Where's the eco in all of this?
In the past, we've talked about the value of recycling your clothes. And we're big proponents of getting books and DVDs from the library or swapping with friends.
But what should you do about yoga mats?
Good question. Traditional mats are primarily made from polyvinyl chlorides, or PVC. PVC is widely considered to be the most toxic plastic produced because dioxins and other carcinogens are released into the atmosphere during its manufacture. Furthermore, the plasticizers added to make the PVC, and your mat, soft and sticky, include lead, cadmium, and phthalates, which have been found to disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to other health problems. The toxins embedded within the PVC make it non-biodegradable. When incinerated or buried in landfills, the dioxin and other carcinogens, could pollute the air.
How can you become part of the solution? Recycle your mat.Here's how.
Recycle Your Mat. This company takes back your old yoga mats and recycles, upcycles, and/or donates them! But before you send them your mat, be sure to follow their recommended cleaning methods.
Jade Yoga. The new Jade 3R Program hopes to reduce the number of mats going to landfills by maximizing their local reuse. The company donates returned yoga mats to those otherwise unable to afford a mat of their own. Jade's website provides a list of studio drop off locations from California to Florida.
Transform the old into something new, different and useful. Cut the pad into kneepads for gardening this summer. Line your kitchen shelves or dresser drawers. Make your cat and dog bowls stay put by cutting the mat into the size required and placing the piece underneath. To find out more, Gaiam Life has created an entire list of "50 Ways to Reuse Your Yoga or Fitness Mat," here. Leah Piken Kolidas, author of Creative Every Day blog, transformed old yoga mats into stamps and stencils; pictured right.
Invest in a more eco-friendly yoga mat. Several manufacturers are making safer mats. Check out: