Choosing the perfect yoga mat is hard.
You want something that is eco-friendly and sustainable… but are cork yoga mats are the right choice? It’s hard to know which yoga mats are truly recyclable and bio-degradable.
Cork is a popular choice, but what ACTUALLY makes it healthy for the planet?
We did the research for you. In this article, we compare the environmental impact of cork and its bottom-layer materials – and we’ll explain why yogis and instructors prefer cork yoga mats for their eco-friendly properties.
Are cork yoga mats eco-friendly and sustainable?
Yes – cork is 100% natural, organic, recyclable, and biodegradable. In comparison to non-recyclable and toxic yoga mats like PVC, cork is a fully sustainable and eco-friendly material. It’s also 100% renewable from the bark of the cork oak tree – causing no harm to the tree or environment.
What’s the argument against cork?
Like all yoga mats, they require energy, manufacturing and shipping – which produces carbon dioxide and harms the planet anyway. If you can practice without a yoga mat, that is always the best eco-friendly option of course.
However, if you DO need a yoga mat, we’ll explain why cork is likely the most planet-friendly and sustainable option on the market.
What materials are cork yoga mats made of?
Cork yoga mats (you can find reviews here) are typically made with a top-layer of cork, and a bottom-layer of TPE or rubber. Both are great options, with slight differences.
Organic, all-natural cork
Looking for a yoga mat that is both environmentally-friendly and gentle on your skin? Cork yoga mats have a top layer made of organic, all-natural cork – which means they’re biodegradable and renewable.
- The cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, which are found mainly in the Mediterranean region.
- The bark is stripped by hand – without damaging the tree – and then ground into granulated pieces.
- The pieces are combined with the materials below, to create a durable, flexible mat that provides excellent grip and cushioning.
Cork mats are also anti-microbial and hypoallergenic, making them ideal for people with sensitive skin. So if you’re looking for sustainable, eco-friendly yoga accessories, a cork mat is a great option.
TPE, or thermoplastic elastomer, is a popular eco-friendly material for yoga mats.
Made with TPE as the bottom layer, cork yoga mats are not only recyclable and biodegradable – but also very durable.
- TPE is a versatile material used for a variety of products as well – including baby products, footwear and more.
- According to Science Direct, it has low energy requirements to produce – which makes it an environmentally-friendly material.
- As people become more aware of the importance of sustainability, cork yoga mats are likely to become more popular.
When cork and TPE are combined, they create a yoga mat that is both comfortable and stable. This makes cork yoga mats an excellent choice for people who want a high-quality mat that will provide them with the support and traction they need. On top of that, cork yoga mats have perfect grip for hot yoga.
All-natural latex rubber is another common bottom-layer material used for cork yoga mats.
These mats tend to be much heavier than TPE (about 6 pounds, where cork TPE mats are roughly 2 pounds) – but it’s still a plant-based material, which gets converted into an “organic rubber.”
- By adding a thin layer of rubber to the bottom of the mat, you can achieve a much better grip without sacrificing comfort or stability.
- The added grip can help to prevent slipping and sliding during dynamic flows and inversions.
- Cork yoga mats with a rubber bottom layer is an excellent choice for those who want to enjoy the benefits of cork while also ensuring a safe and stable practice.
Are cork yoga mats recyclable?
Most yoga mats are made of PVC, a type of plastic that is not recyclable. Instead…
- Cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, and the trees are not harmed in the process.
- In fact, they continue to grow and produce new bark, making cork a renewable resource.
- Cork, TPE and rubber can all be recycled at the end of their lifespan.
They’re also very easy to clean. So, if you’re looking for a mat that’s good for the planet, look for one made of cork.
What makes cork yoga mats biodegradable?
Cork, TPE and rubber are also biodegradable, meaning that it will break down over time and will not stay in landfills forever.
Unlike traditional products, biodegradable products do not release harmful chemicals into the environment when they are broken down. These products often have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional products – since they typically require less energy consumption to product.
For these reasons, cork yoga mats are a great choice for anyone who wants to maintain eco-friendliness.
Where does the cork come from?
Cork is a tree bark that is harvested for its unique properties. The most common type of cork comes from the cork oak tree, which is native to the Mediterranean, southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa.
These trees can live for hundreds of years, and they are carefully managed in order to ensure a sustainable supply of cork.
- After the tree reaches a certain age, the bark is carefully removed by hand.
- The cork is then processed and cut into various shapes and sizes.
- It can be used to create everything from yoga mats, to wine stoppers, to bulletin boards and more.
In recent years, cork has also become popular as a sustainable building material. Thanks to its unique properties, cork is an extremely versatile material with a wide range of applications.
Do they cut down trees to make cork yoga mats?
The bark is stripped from the tree using a traditional method that does not harm the tree. In fact…
- Cork oak trees are able to regenerate their bark, making cork a sustainable and renewable resource.
- Cork is durable, slip-resistant, and firm – yet nice and springy, providing a stable foundation for your practice.
- It’s also naturally anti-microbial, so it helps to keep your mat clean and free of bacteria.
Combined with it’s sustainability and eco-friendliness… you can feel good about your choice when you reach for your mat each day.
Cork yoga mat effects on the environment
The cork bark is harvested every nine years – followed by a natural rejuvenation process.
When the cork bark is rejuvenated on the tree, it sucks carbon dioxide out of the air. This helps prevent climate change, because carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Cork trees also provide habitat for animals and help to prevent soil erosion. In addition, the cork industry provides jobs for people in the Mediterranean region – while also playing an important role in protecting the planet.