Yoga mat madness

KC design.


In March I blogged about my efforts to make art out of old yoga mats (read post here).

To recap, a few years ago I bought cheap yoga mats and thought that they would soon end up in landfill, but I was wrong: most yoga mats get incinerated, which is worse!


Dioxin is carcinogenic, and it is released into the atmosphere when we burn PVC. Many yoga mats also contain phthalates, which have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and illness in human reproductive systems.

When mats are incinerated, mercury and dioxins are released into our air, water and soil. Found all over our beautiful planet, dioxin compounds are commonly known as POPS (persistent environmental pollutants). They end up in the food chain and drinking water, which impacts on our immune and neurological systems.


With all that is happening in our world we might feel powerless, angry, or overwhelmed at times, and every emotio is valid. We can also be hopeful, grateful, and optimistic.

Many of us are privileged enough to be able to exercise our agency and choose action over apathy. To me that means showing love to the Earth in little ways.

I, and the people I teach, will use our mats until they fall apart, but in future I will not buy the ones that are part of a toxic cycle. It is Bealtaine as I write this, and my delivery of eco mats is en route: soon I will have a box of them to supply to people in Kerry.


It is ironic that organic food and less harmful products (such as yoga mats made from natural fibres) cost us more! It makes me furious. There are many reasons for the price difference that are beyond the control of food growers, manufacturers, and distributors. Instead of looking at numbers, I am trying focus on longevity and the bigger health picture.

If funds are low, and making changes seem expensive to you, I can relate. One way of approaching it is to put coins in a jar. If you keep topping it up, you will soon have enough saved to buy something more sustainable.

That could be a yoga mat that lasts much longer and causes no harm when it is finally dumped, or a new pair of shoes that are well-made, fit you well, and will last for years instead of months. Of course second-hand items are great too. There are many ways to be part of a circular economy, and every little choice counts, so take the plunge!


Watercolour on paper. Kathryn Crowley.

Kathryn Crowley is a writer, art-maker, and yoga instructor based in Kerry, Ireland. Her new Twitter account is @kctweeting.

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