As someone who enjoys yoga and spends a little time every day in various poses, I know the struggle of using a yoga mat past its prime. Some mats wear down faster than others, but I find that I usually need to replace my mat every couple of years. So, finding a sustainable way to dispose of it is a top priority.
Fortunately, there are more options available than simply sending old yoga mats to the landfill. They can be reused in a variety of ways. But recycling them can be quite a challenge.
How To Recycle Yoga Mats
Most popular yoga mats are made from PVC (plastic resin code #3), which is one of the most difficult plastics to recycle. Even if your local recycling center accepts PVC, they may not take yoga mats, so be sure to call first. If your local center won’t accept them, there aren’t many recycling options available.
A very few companies do accept old yoga mats for recycling. One company that offers a recycling program is LovEarth in Australia. When you purchase one of LovEarth’s sustainable yoga mats, they provide the option to request a mailing slip so you can send them your old mat for upcycling or recycling. Not only will you get rid of an old PVC mat, but the new mat you purchase from them is biodegradable and much safer for the environment.
Another option is Manduka.com’s LiveON program. When you buy a new Manduka mat, you can choose to add the LiveON program to your purchase. After your new Manduka mat arrives, you simply send back your old mat — no matter what brand — in the same box. If the old mat is still usable, it will be cleaned and donated; otherwise, it will be downcycled into new products.
Other companies have started yoga mat recycling programs, only to shut them down. Before you purchase your next mat, consider calling the manufacturer of your old mat to see if they have a take-back program. And check with the manufacturer of the new mat you’re purchasing to find out if they have a recycling program.
How To Reuse Yoga Mats
There are many creative ways to reuse old yoga mats to give them a little more life before it’s time for disposal. Here are a few suggestions, but you can explore even more ideas on Jade Yoga’s website.
Use as a Doormat
Use a few old mats as doormats. They’re perfect for guests to keep their shoes on and are also very easy to clean. Simply wipe them down to get rid of any dirt and they’re good to go.
Use as a Liner or Padding
Yoga mats work great as makeshift liners. Whether you use them in kitchen drawers or on bookshelves, these mats have just the right texture to hold things in place. Just measure the mat to the right size, cut it out carefully, and fit it into place. Old mats also work well under area rugs to stop slippage and add padding.
Use in the Garden
An old yoga mat can make a great kneeling pad for when you’re working in the garden. Just trim it down to the appropriate size. You can even cut a few strips and glue them together — or simply fold it over a few times — to give yourself even more cushioning.
Donate Your Yoga Mat
If you gave yoga a try for a while and then decided to quit, your mat probably still has some life left in it. You can reach out to local yoga studios or community and youth centers to see if they accept mat donations. In some cases, they will take them and give them out to others who can’t afford their own.
However you decide to recycle or reuse your old yoga mat, you’ll feel less stressed knowing you’re doing your part for our planet.
Feature image: StockSnap, Pixabay. Originally published on January 16, 2019, this article was updated in November 2021.