Creative use of old yoga mat

What to Do with Old Yoga Mats: Reuse, Recycle, and Upcycle Without Throwing Them Away 

Your trusty old yoga mat has seen you through downward dogs, warriors, and plenty of savasanas. But when it’s time to upgrade to a shiny new mat, it can be hard to figure out what to do with the worn-out one. Tossing it in the trash may seem tempting, but there are so many better options!

What To Do With Old Yoga Mats

In this article, we’ll explore creative ways to give your used yoga mat new life. From making DIY projects to donating for a good cause, you have lots of eco-friendly alternatives before resorting to landfills. Keep reading to discover smart reusing and recycling ideas to keep those reusable mats in circulation.

Why It’s Important to Reuse and Recycle Yoga Mats

Many yoga mats are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic that’s not biodegradable or easily recyclable. When PVC mats are thrown away, they sit in landfills for centuries without breaking down.

By repurposing or recycling your old yoga mat, you help divert waste from landfills and oceans. Giving used mats a second life is a sustainable option that benefits the environment.

Even if you have a more eco-friendly mat made of rubber, cork, jute, or cotton, reusing it keeps it out of the waste stream longer. Donating gives others the chance to benefit from a quality mat.

Ready to get creative? Let’s explore some excellent ways to reuse and recycle retired yoga mats.

Clever Ways to Reuse Your Old Yoga Mat

Clever Ways to Reuse Your Old Yoga Mat

With a little imagination, you can transform an old yoga mat into something useful again. Here are clever repurposing ideas to give those worn-out mats new life:

1. Turn It Into a Gym Mat

Trim your old yoga mat to size to create extra padding for home workouts. Place it underneath bodyweight exercises, using the cushion for added comfort. You can also kneel on it for stability during arm work.

2. Make Play Mats for Kids

Does your kids’ play area need some soft flooring? Cut fun shapes out of an old yoga mat to create soft, non-slip mats for playrooms. Kids will love tumbling and building on the squishy surface.

3. Line Crates or Carriers With It

The waterproof material and soft padding of a yoga mat make it ideal for lining crates and carriers. Simply cut pieces to size and use them to create a comfy bed for pets when traveling or visiting the vet.

4. Protect Surfaces as a Work Mat

An old yoga mat adds a protective layer between your workbench and projects. Lay it on tables when doing arts and crafts or underneath metal work to prevent scratches and dents. The non-slip material helps stabilize your projects.

5. Make Garden Mats for Kneeling

For comfort while gardening, cut sections of a yoga mat to kneel on while tending soil beds. The thick padding eases knee strain and keeps pants clean. You can also use mat chunks to line hanging baskets.

6. Prevent Weeds in Garden Beds

Lay a yoga mat in garden beds and cut holes for plantings. The mat blocks light which smothers weeds and their seeds underneath. Simply remove the mat and move it to another spot when it’s time to sow new seeds.

7. Create a Tent Foot Mat

Take your shoes off outside and kneel on your old yoga mat to get into tents and keep dirt out. Roll it up and stash it in a corner when not in use. The grippy surface also wipes feet well.

8. Use as a Picnic Blanket

For impromptu picnics, an old yoga mat rolled up in the car is great for creating a soft, cushioned seating area. It’s easy to store and provides a layer between you and the ground.

9. Make DIY Pet Beds

Looking for inexpensive DIY pet bed ideas? Simply place an old yoga mat in a basket or crate lined with old blankets or towels. The yoga mat base provides cushioning and stability.

10. Craft Camera or Device Pads

To prevent gadgets from getting scratched, sew pieces of an old yoga mat into pads. Use them when working on projects or beneath devices on hard surfaces. The pads prevent slipping too.

With a durable old yoga mat, the DIY possibilities are endless! Next, let’s go over options for donating or recycling retired mats.

How to Donate or Recycle Your Used Yoga Mat

Giving away or recycling a yoga mat keeps it out of landfills while helping others in need. Here are smart ways to donate or recycle old yoga mats:

Locate a Mat Recycling Program

An increasing number of yoga studios and retailers like Lululemon offer mat recycling. Contact nearby studios to see if they accept old mat donations for recycling. You may need to mail them in.

Donate to Homeless Shelters

Homeless shelters often accept used yoga mat donations, as they provide padding for sleeping bags. Call your local shelters to see if they can take yoga mats in good condition.

Contact Non-Profits That Accept Donations

Organizations like the Yoga Foster Project connect used mat donations with prison yoga programs, abuse shelters, veterans groups, and others in need. Reach out to groups in your area.

Offer to Teachers or Students

Know a new yoga teacher or student on a budget? See if they’d like your gently used mat. What you no longer need could provide a great starter mat for someone else.

Check Donation Centers and Resale Shops

Goodwill, Salvation Army, and consignment shops sometimes accept used yoga mats if they’re in very good shape. Give them a call to learn about local donation policies.

Let Friends and Family Check It First

Before assuming no one wants your old mat, offer it up to friends, family or neighbors. Someone may need an extra mat for guests or a basement workout area.

List for Free on Buy Nothing Groups

In Facebook Buy Nothing groups, members give away household items for free to others in the community. Post your old yoga mat to see if anyone nearby could use it.

While you may not be able to recycle every type of yoga mat, try to keep them in circulation as long as possible. With some creativity and effort, there are many ways to give used yoga mats new life!

Yoga Mat Recycling Programs

Lululemon yoga mat recycling

Brands like Lululemon offer recycling programs where you can bring your old mat and they ensure it’s recycled properly.

Manduka yoga mat recycling

Manduka also has a program that recycles old mats, turning them into new yoga products.

Environmental Impact of Recycling Yoga Mats

Is rubber yoga mat recyclable?

While rubber yoga mats are more environmentally friendly and often recyclable, PVC yoga mats pose challenges due to their non-biodegradable nature.

PVC yoga mats and the environment

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is not biodegradable, making recycling essential. If PVC yoga mats are thrown away, they contribute to landfill waste and environmental pollution.

Alternative Uses for Old Yoga Mats

Yoga mat for puzzle

Old yoga mats make an excellent base for puzzles, providing a non-slip surface.

Yoga mat in the garden

Placing a yoga mat in your garden can smother weeds and their seeds, providing a barrier against unwanted plants.

How to Keep Your New Yoga Mat in Good Condition?

Mat cleaning and maintenance

Regular cleaning and proper storage will prolong the life of your new yoga mat, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

When to throw out a yoga mat?

With proper care, a quality yoga mat can last for years. However, if the mat loses its grip or becomes uneven, it might be time for a replacement.


Can I cut up my old yoga mat?

Yes, you can cut up your yoga mat with scissors or a utility knife to repurpose it into smaller pieces for crafts, kneel pads, etc. This works best with mats that have a fabric surface rather than a rubber surface.

What should I avoid using an old yoga mat for?

Avoid direct contact with food and prolonged skin contact for health safety. Old mats may harbor bacteria so don’t repurpose them for food prep stations or as bath mats. Also refrain from donating heavily used mats to others.

Are yoga mats recyclable?

It depends on the material. Most standard yoga mats are made from PVC or EVA foam which are not widely recyclable. If your mat is 100% natural rubber, cork, jute or organic cotton, check for recycling options in your area. Some brands like Jade Yoga offer mat recycling programs.

Can I put an old yoga mat in the regular trash?

While you can dispose of yoga mats in your household trash, it’s best to explore reuse and recycling options first to divert them from landfills. If trashing it, cut it up first so it takes up less space.

What should I do with a yoga mat that’s falling apart?

If a yoga mat is in poor condition, it’s best to discard it. Cut it up into pieces first and place in the trash to take up less space. You can also check if any material or rubber recycling centers in your area accept yoga mats.

How do I clean my yoga mat before donating or recycling?

Use a gentle, natural cleaner and rinse with water. You’ll want to sanitize mats before passing them along. Let the mat air dry fully before reuse. Proper cleaning reduces odor and bacteria.

Can I donate a heavily used yoga mat?

Lightly used yoga mats in good condition can be donated, but refrain from passing along extremely worn or unsanitary mats. Give your mat an honest assessment before donating so it can have ongoing benefit.

What are yoga mats typically made of?

Most standard yoga mats are made of PVC, EVA foam, PER, or rubber (natural or synthetic). Higher-end mats may use more eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, jute, cork, and natural rubber.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

  • Reuse and Recycle: Finding creative ways to reuse and recycle your old yoga mat reduces waste and environmental impact.
  • Donating is Caring: Consider donating your mat to local yoga studios, shelters, or organizations like Goodwill.
  • Upcycling Ideas: From rugs and cushions to floor and playmats, the possibilities are endless.
  • Recycling Programs: Brands like Lululemon and Manduka offer recycling programs to help dispose of your old mat responsibly.
  • Environmental Considerations: Rubber mats are generally more environmentally friendly than PVC ones, so consider this when purchasing a new yoga mat.
  • Care for Your Mat: Regular cleaning and care will keep your new yoga mat in optimal condition for years.

Whether you decide to upcycle, donate, or recycle, remember that every effort counts towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly world. So next time you replace your old yoga mat, consider these options and make a positive impact.

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