Just like workout clothes and sneakers, yoga mats can wear out after a while. You might notice yours becoming slippery or uneven — two words that should never describe a surface on which you routinely hold poses that require balance and flexibility. But before you toss out that old mat, you might wonder: is it recyclable?
“Most mats are made of PVC, which is a type of plastic that’s very difficult to recycle,” explained Kaméa Chayne, a Duke-certified integrative health coach, curator of ConsciousFashion.co, and host and producer of the sustainability podcast, Green Dreamer Podcast. “Not every recycling facility is capable of recycling PVC, so people looking to dispose of them would have to check with their local recyclers first.” Likewise, if your mat is made from TPE or another synthetic rubber, it may be recyclable, but you should check with the experts first to be sure.
Other brands use neoprene in yoga mats — for example, SUGA repurposes neoprene wetsuits to make its mats, which can then be recycled depending on the facility or returned to the brand and handled for you. (You might check to see if the manufacturer of your own mat offers a take-back program.) Have a mat that’s made from natural rubber, cotton, or jute? “As long as they don’t have synthetic materials mixed in with them, they are biodegradable,” Kaméa told POPSUGAR.
If you’re struggling to find a place to recycle your mat, Kaméa suggests checking out TerraCycle, an innovative company that has made it possible to recycle traditionally non-recyclable goods. You can always upcycle, too. A few ways she suggests repurposing yoga mats:
Use them as non-slip carpet backings.
Cut yoga mats into squares to use as outdoor seating when you don’t want to get your bottom dirty.
Donate undamaged mats to charities that serve people who will make use of them.