More and more manufacturers recognize a growing consumer demand for eco-friendly yoga mats. Eco-friendly yoga mats have become a popular search term on internet search engines. But what does it mean exactly? And are eco-friendly yoga mats safe for our health? In this post, I will talk about two yoga mats (ThinkSport and Jade Harmony) that at first appeared to be non-toxic and eco-friendly; and I will share my findings after I dug a little deeper.
ThinkSport eco-friendly yoga mats
I was given a ThinkSport yoga mat as a present. Another non-toxic blogger had researched the mat and gave it the thumbs-up. Therefore, I relaxed, believing that there was nothing more for me to do, but to practice yoga. Then, while holding my pose, I took a deep breath on the mat. It smelled of toxic chemicals.
After the yoga session, I went straight to my computer. I ran a lot of searches, and saw pages and pages of posts by bloggers who were sent this mat in exchange for their enthusiasm for this mat made of something called “TPE.”
I emailed the manufacturer and asked what TPE is and who tested to make sure that it is non-toxic. I have not received any answers.
According to Wikipedia, TPE (Thermoplastic elastomers) is a mix of rubber and plastic. In other words, TPE is a blend of synthetic materials that have not been disclosed, have not been studied, and have not been proven safe. I really enjoyed reading the analysis by Eco Yogini. She did a great job voicing her concerns about TPE. Please take a look at her post here.
ThinkSport says that TPE is free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC, Lead, Phthalates, Dioxins, and other notorious offenders. By we are not told what it has instead of these known toxins. I became very skeptical about all types of plastic after reading the result of tests done by CertiChem, founded by George Bittner, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin. CertiChem reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA. My strong recommendation is not to be swayed by BPA-free labels and avoid all type of plastic, to the extent possible. If you try to eliminate all plastic from your environment you might go insane.
Jade Harmony Professional eco-friendly yoga mats
After my disappointment with ThinkSport eco-friendly yoga mats, my research led me to eco-friendly yoga mats by Jade. When I do research, I always contact a manufacturer to ask questions or even confirm information I already know. The product description looked convincing so I bought the mat on Amazon before I even asked any questions of the manufacturer. When I received the mat, it smelled too, but less strongly than the ThinkSport mat.
So how has my experience been with the Jade Harmony mat? I have had the mat now for two weeks, and it still smells. The performance is however excellent – it is very non-slippery and thick enough to provide steady support.
I asked Jade Harmony whether their eco-friendly yoga mats are made of 100% natural rubber. The response I received was not as reassuring as I hoped. Jade said that in addition to natural rubber, its eco-friendly yoga mats contain both natural and man-made components that are necessary to give their mats their properties. They said that they can’t disclose those components because they are each afraid that their proprietary formulas will be compromised and counterfeited.
Jade assured me that its yoga mats contain no heavy metals, ozone-depleting substances, PVC, TPE, phthalates, formaldehyde or glues. Notice that TPE is listed as one of the things you do not want in your yoga mat.
While Jade is not the worst option, I hope to find a non-toxic mat without hidden ingredients, that performs well and does not cost a fortune. I would like to ask you to leave a comment to tell me if you are interested in learning about the results of my search because your comment might persuade a manufacturer of truly eco-friendly yoga mats to send me a mat for my review or even sponsor a giveaway for you.
Update as of 1/21/2015: A German agency tested Jade yoga mats and found nitrosamines that are linked with cancer.
Update as of October 2016: To see a list of yoga mats that I believe are safer than PVC, TPE, or PER yoga mats, visit here.
Update as of June 2018: To read about the yoga mat that I use and love, please visit here.
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