4 Sustainable Yoga Accessories Environmentalists Swear By

woman doing yoga in a studio with a purple potion klean kanteen with black twist cap

In a lot of ways, sustainability and yoga go hand in hand. The values of mindfulness, repeatable practices that rejuvenate the system, and intentionality are at home within both yoga and environmental sustainability.

With that said, the commercialization of yoga has turned it into a billion-dollar industry and introduced loads of plastic-based materials that are certainly at odds with sustainability. Yoga is thousands of years old with movements that create and develop suppleness, strength, mental lucidity, and overall physical and mental health, yet not much has really changed over time. Modern material approaches insist on trying to “improve” these practices by insisting that we need to use high-priced, over-produced goods. While it may be true that a few key items, such as a good mat, a sturdy block, and comfortable clothes, are beneficial for every yogi out there, the focus should be on limiting the amount of them one needs to buy over the course of their life. Keeping this in mind, we created this article to highlight the four most sustainable yoga accessories that environmentalists swear by: yoga mats, yoga blocks, yoga clothing, and yoga-friendly water bottles.

What is the Most Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat Material?

Probably the first and most obvious purchase an eco-friendly yoga enthusiast should consider is a sustainable yoga mat. Many poses and movements require contact with the floor, and a hygienic, comfortable surface is obviously preferable. However, there is undoubtedly an influx of yoga mats made from low-quality, plastic-based materials that are also non-biodegradable. As Going Zero Waste points out, many of these yoga mats are made from PVC, which is especially difficult to recycle. The EPA estimates that almost a billion tons of PVC waste gets generated every year–with only a fraction of a percentage getting recycled. Problematically, the process that makes PVC yoga mats so flexible and easily foldable is also horrific for the environment–it creates additives alongside PVC’s standard chlorine content that not only hurts the planet, but is linked to health risks as well. There are recycled yoga mats made from repurposed plastic that have been up-cycled from other plastics, but in general, we try to urge against using plastics at all. Instead, we’d recommend that you opt for natural ingredients: cork, natural rubber, and even cotton are regularly used in the sustainable manufacture of yoga mats, and all are preferable to plastic mats.

Are Cork Yoga Mats Eco-Friendly?

Indeed, cork yoga mats are environmentally friendly. One caveat, of course: they must be made from natural cork. Many people do not know that cork actually comes from cork oak trees, which grow predominantly in Portugal.

Natural cork oaks have their bark removed without harming the tree, and the tree grows its bark back and regenerates. This process is quite sustainable, and can be repeated over the course of centuries without costing the tree its life, or its role in the ecosystem. Cork oak is a sustainable form of carbon storage that helps to combat climate change by storing it in the soil and foliage instead releasing into our atmosphere as atmospheric CO2. According to Going Zero Waste, “a well-managed cork forest can absorb over 20 million tons of CO2 each year.”

So, yes, purchasing a yoga mat made of natural cork is a tremendously sustainable choice, especially when compared to harmful PVC.

woman doing yoga in a park with a city scape behind her and a klean kanteen in the color tofu with a tan twist cap

Are Cork Yoga Blocks Eco-Friendly?

If you’ve been getting into yoga for awhile now, you’ve probably encountered several moves that benefit from incorporating a yoga block. Just as with yoga mats, there is an overabundance of plastic in these niche products as well that simply doesn’t need to exist. And, also like yoga mats, cork is a fantastic option to choose when selecting your yoga block. Despite being less expensive and lighter than plastic and traditional wood, they’re still durable and sturdy and they don’t give in to pressure when they’re squeezed. They’re more comfortable to grip because of their somewhat flaky texture, and high-quality natural cork will also stand up to crumbling on the edges and corners. In short, natural cork yoga blocks are an eco-friendly choice that’s more affordable than plastic or wood, easy to grip and stack, and non-slip, which makes it a terrific option for your yoga sessions.

Who Makes Sustainable Yoga Accessories?

The yoga industry is saturated with thousands of brands who want to capitalize on one of the world’s most popular forms of exercise and wellbeing, with only a fraction of those brands offering truly sustainable items (despite many of them branding themselves as eco-friendly). So which brands actually make sustainable yoga accessories? What about sustainable yoga clothes?

For starters, we really like Athleta. A certified B Corp, Athleta makes a huge variety of yoga-related products, including yoga T-shirts and sweatshirts, yoga pants, yoga socks, mats, towels, and more. Athleta designs its products with comfort and performance in mind while using organically grown cotton-based fiber and recycled materials such as nylon, polyester, and wood.

Vuori is another outstanding athletic apparel brand that has its priorities in the right place, in our opinion. They are Climate Neutral Certified, offsetting their carbon footprint by supporting projects like the Chestnut Mountain Improved Forest Management Project and the Dempsey Ridge Wind project, which focuses on developing renewable energy. On top of all this, their products are high-quality and comfortable, designed to allow free movement and support active lifestyles. Vuori is a perfect fit for those who want to keep their yoga clothes sustainable.

Lastly, we’ve long supported the work of Toad & Co. They make 100 percent of their clothing with sustainable, eco-friendly materials and apply the same concepts to their packaging, too. They are environmental partners with The Conservation Alliance, the Environmental Defense Center, Ventura Land Trust, Yosemite Facelift, and more. Suffice it to say, they are a company focused on doing good for our planet. Yoga enthusiasts can find a good selection of joggers, shorts, and tees at Toad & Co.

Finally, don’t forget that every good yoga routine needs to incorporate hydration and nutrition! Klean Kanteen makes it easy to do both while also keeping an eye on sustainability. Our huge selection of water bottles in a variety of sizes and mix-and-match caps and straws provide every yogi with clean water in a durable, reusable container that’s made from certified 90% post-consumer recycled 18/8 stainless steel, the same steel that’s used in our line of food boxes. No matter if you just need to ensure you have enough water on hand for your more intense yoga sessions or if you want to pack a post-workout snack with you, Klean Kanteen is a natural fit to keep your yoga practice sustainable.

It’s not always easy to stay eco-friendly with all of your hobbies. But with a few intentional decisions and informed purchases, you can make sure that you have the best sustainable yoga accessories out there.