You can buy yoga mats from man-made materials like PVC at nearly every department store, but natural rubber yoga mats have been becoming more popular. If PVC mats are cheap and easy to find, why spend more on a rubber one? Are rubber yoga mats a good alternative to PVC?
Rubber yoga mats are good because rubber is a plant product, meaning they have a smaller carbon footprint and are more sustainable than PVC mats. Rubber lacks the off-gassing that PVC mats have that can be harmful to your health, and they can be recycled. Rubber yoga mats also perform well, providing cushion and an anti-skid surface.
Read on to find out all of the pros, and a few cons, of buying a rubber yoga mat!
Benefits of a rubber yoga mat
When buying a yoga mat, most people do not want to sacrifice performance. Rubber yoga mats do not disappoint!
The natural properties of rubber lend themselves well to a mat that offers a great amount of grip, meaning that you won’t slip around while trying to hold Warrior 2.
Also, rubber provides the right amount of cushion or squish to protect your joints and will keep your sit bones from aching in Easy Pose. Rubber is an ideal material for a high performing yoga mat.
PVC mats can provide all of these benefits as well, so why are rubber mats becoming so popular? The difference is that rubber is much more eco-friendly.
The most commonly found yoga mats are made from PVC, a plastic derived from oil. They have a “toxic” odor that lasts for days, or sometimes the life of the mat. This odor is actually the release of gasses, like dioxins and phthalates, which are harmful to your health and can contribute to the poor air quality in your home.
Rubber yoga mats, in contrast, are made from latex harvested from a rubber tree. Because it is a product derived from plants, it is more sustainable than PVC. The carbon footprint from the production of the mat is also less than plastic mats.
There is a rubber smell to new rubber yoga mats. This is simply the naturally occurring smell of rubber and is not due to the release of harmful chemicals, however, and is not harmful to your health.
In addition, rubber yoga mats have a long life and will not wear out easily. This means that they won’t need to be replaced as frequently. Once they are at the end of their life, they can be recycled.
They help offer opportunities
Collecting latex, rubber tree sap, is called “tapping” and much of this tapping is done in the Amazon rainforest. Purchasing rubber products not only benefits the livelihood of the tapper and their family, but it also helps provide a source of income from the forest that doesn’t involve deforestation.
The process of tapping looks very similar to collecting sap from maple trees in the production of maple syrup. Rubber trees are not cut down in the process and can be tapped again and again. In an area where money can be made from logging, latex tapping can provide an income while sustaining the rainforest.
Drawbacks of rubber yoga mats
Even though rubber yoga mats perform well and are friendlier for the environment (and your health), there are a few drawbacks as well.
Rubber yoga mats are typically more expensive than PVC mats. While PVC mats can be found for $10 at many retail stores (although many are more expensive), rubber mats can be found for $50 and up.
While price many not be your only consideration, it could price some people out.
Possible allergy issues
If you are allergic to latex, you should definitely avoid natural rubber yoga mats. You may be aware of your allergy, but if you aren’t sure, ask yourself if you break out from wearing band-aids, disposable gloves, or condoms. If so, you may have a latex allergy and should proceed with caution.
There can definitely be an odor to new rubber yoga mats, which can be off-putting to some people. This smell can be lessened by unrolling and airing out the mat for a few days. Also, it should dissipate on its own after a few months of use.