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  • InNon-toxic Home

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats and DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

     

    So you’ve finally made it to a yoga class and you're sweating out toxins and you're doing your deep belly breathing. You're detoxing, right? But somewhere between Warrior 1 and Down Dog, are you absorbing even more chemicals back in through your toxic yoga mat?

    Chances are, that your yoga mat actually is made of toxic materials that are leaching harmful chemicals. The most common material for yoga mats is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which if you're not already familiar with it, is a form of plastic that has been made pliable and soft through phthalates and other chemical plasticizers.

    From pilates to physical therapy, plenty of people have a mat around the house that’s not used for yoga, but the toxic considerations remain the same. We’re huge fans of yoga (and exercise and movement in general) but it’s no secret how much we detest PVC. Vinyl (#3 recycling code) is commonly used as a nickname for PVC and it's everywhere in modern life, even in our exercise mats.

    Why go to all the trouble to avoid toxic PVC (vinyl) plastic?

    Lead. Phthalates. VOC's. Dioxin. Just for starters. It's nothing to mess around with, especially considering that these chemicals are well-established carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that wreak havoc on our bodies.

    Keep an eye out for soft, flexible vinyl – the most problematic because of the stabilizers (like lead and other heavy metals) and plasticizers (like phthalates) required to make it more pliable.

    • Due to its chlorinated makeup, the entire life cycle of vinyl is responsible for the formation of more dioxin than any other single product. Dioxin is a well-known carcinogen and can affect the reproductive, immune, endocrine and neurological systems.
    • Chlorine production for PVC results in the release of over 200,000 pounds of mercury to air, water and land each year.
    • To make vinyl products flexible, controversial plasticizers known as phthalates are used, accounting for nearly 90 percent of total phthalate consumption. This translates into more than five million tons used for vinyl every year.
    • Lead is often added to vinyl construction products as a stabilizer to extend its life. It is estimated that 45,000 tons of lead each year are released into the environment during its disposal by incineration.

    You'll need to assume that the term “vinyl” means PVC unless you've been able to verify the details with manufacturer.

    Is your yoga mat actually toxic?

    But what about phthalate-free vinyl (PVC #3)? That's safe, right?

    While it's a step in the right direction, we're still left to worry about with many other harmful chemicals common to PVC. Even phthalate-free PVC still isn’t a safe plastic because of the other harmful chemicals often used during production. The Center for Health Environment and Justice names the following possible concerns with PVC:

    • May contain dioxin (a known carcinogen)
    • May contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
    • May contain organotins
    • May contain lead, cadmium and other metals
    • Heat and humidity can increase the release of these chemicals
    Heat and humidity are common (and even expected) in yoga classes, so if you're using a PVC mat, conditions are right for it to release toxic compounds.Click To Tweet

    Have you ever purchased a new yoga mat and then unrolled for the first time and been unpleasantly surprise by a chemically “new yoga mat” smell? Does that mean it’s off-gassing toxins? If it’s made from PVC, probably. If it’s made from natural rubber, no. Natural rubber products (which we'll discuss later on this article) have a strong smell for the first several weeks until they air out, but they aren't off-gassing toxins.

    What about TPE?

    Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) is being sold as an eco-friendly alternative to PVC and most new-to-market yoga mats are made with it and being marketed as “safe” or “safer”. It's a more stable compound that is manufactured with closed cell technology (so sweat, germs, and microbes don't penetrate the surface) but it's too new to say how it interacts with our bodies. And while TPE is free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC, Lead, Phthalates, and Dioxins, there are still concerns about its long term safety. It's definitely cheaper and more durable than all natural materials, but we're sticking with recommendations for sustainable, all natural yoga mats.

    But as we always say: this is a journey. The idea is to start by making one lifestyle change at a time.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats (that are also eco-friendly and sustainable), plus our DIY recipe for safe yoga mat cleaner #greencleaning #yogamat #yoga #nontoxicyoga


    Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Materials

    So where does that leave us when we want a truly non-toxic (and eco-friendly) yoga mat or exercise mat?

    We used to focus on frugal choices because like dad used to say, money doesn’t grow on trees. . . but fortunately, sustainable cork and natural rubber do grow on trees! So now we focus on quality over cost, as much as possible.

    Non-toxic yoga mats tend to be made from all natural materials which are also biodegradable. Being biodegradable, they will start to break down over time which is both a pro and a con since sometimes they start breaking down while we're still using them. All natural mats are also more expensive and heavier than the cheap $15 PVC mats. That’s okay by us though, we’re willing to sacrifice convenience for our health!

    Options for non-toxic and sustainable yoga mats include:

    • Cork (cork is made from cork trees in Portugal – which are not cut down in the harvesting process – and is naturally antimicrobial and maintains its grip even under sweaty conditions)
    • Jute
    • All natural rubber
    • Hemp and organic cotton (for yoga rugs/towels, but not for a true cushioned and grippy mat)

    Natural rubber products may also have a strong ‘natural rubber’ smell until they full air out over a few weeks. If you are allergic to latex, use caution with natural rubber although many manufacturers do state that their natural rubber is still safe for latex allergies.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Recommendations

    This list isn't comprehensive of every non-toxic choice available on the market, but these have been the highest rated that meet our criteria. And…they're stylin' too. 😍 Read the reviews before you buy to see feedback on how it worked for different uses such as thickness for knee cushioning, stability, and portability (some all natural rubber mats can be very heavy).

    DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner Recipe

    Okay, so now that you’ve invested in a safe yoga mat (or at least you're planning on it), you’ll want an all natural cleaning spray to keep it clean!

    Fortunately, Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is inexpensive and readily available. It's naturally antiseptic, anti-microbial, and effective but still gentle enough to be used on the skin. And clinical Research is now supporting what we've seen for years.

    “A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

    Essential Oil Yoga Mat Cleaner

    This is the fun part where you get to play essential oil alchemist. The following cleaning base recipe can be tweaked and customized with whatever essential scents are most appealing to you. (Check out our post on the differences between absolute and essential oils)

    DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner #yogamat #diy

    Essential Oil Yoga Mat Spray

    • 1 2 oz or 4 oz spray bottles (we like sturdy glass bottles like these ones)
    • Approximately 3/4 cup of water
    • 1/4 cup Witch Hazel (white vinegar can also be used)
    • 5 drops tea tree oil
    • 2 drops eucalyptus oil (optional)
    • 2-3 drops of lavender, lemongrass, or lemon essential oil (optional)

    Mix together in a bowl or a measuring cup (a pyrex measuring cup works well) and pour into your glass or stainless steel spray bottle. Spray over mat and wipe down with a clean cloth and let air dry. 

    NOTE: Lavender essential oil is toxic to cats (although fresh lavender is not), and full strength (100% undiluted) tea tree oil is toxic to both cats and dogs, so be safe and use this disinfectant spray out of their reach.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats (that are also eco-friendly and sustainable), plus our DIY recipe for safe yoga mat cleaner #greencleaning #yogamat #yoga #nontoxicyoga

    Before we sign off, here's one more handy tip for keeping those floor germs off your hands and face when you're practicing yoga or pilates.

    When you've finished your practice, instead of starting at the end of your mat and rolling it up, instead, fold the practicing surface of your yoga mat in half and THEN roll it up. That way the surface that touches your face and hands never comes in contact with the surface that touches the ground.

    Do you have another favorite non-toxic mat that we didn't list? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

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  • InFood and Drink Storage, Shopping Guides

    Safer Kids Cup and Dish Guide

    Safer Cups + Dishes Guide for KidsFinding safer cups and dishes for older kids has been a challenge. We're embarking on an expedition to see what we can find. Our list is growing as we confirm more BPA, PVC, phthalate, and melamine-free options, so keep checking back!

    Safer Cups and Dishes for Kids

    Urban Trend FunWares

    These Urban Trend Funwares products are innovative and unique, and encourage interaction and family unity at the table. While not designed as “toys,” these items help parents get their kids to the table for a little mealtime fun.

    Re-play Kids Dishes

    Re-play dishes are unique in that they're made from recycled milk jugs right here in the USA! With no toxic chemicals to worry about and best-selling designs that work for kids, they're a must-have.

    Kinderville Bigger Kids Silicone Dishes

    Kinderville knocked our socks off with their line of baby dishes, and now they've done it again with the introduction of new eating gear designed for older kids!

    EIO Glass Kids Cup

    EIO‘s unique design offers the only spill-resistant toddler training cup designed for convenience and health benefits. The Kids Cup is a spout-free, valve-free cup is designed to transition young children properly from bottles to real glass dinnerware.

    Fuel Kids Waste-free Lunch Containers

    It so easy to go 100% reusable and waste-free with the wide array of affordable Fuel lunch gear! From sandwich boxes to insulated soup containers, Fuel products are simple for kids to use and their unique features open up a whole new world of healthy meal possibilities.

    Kidishes

    Parents everywhere today are looking for an alternative to plastic dishes. Kidishes are made from tempered glass, which is amazingly durable and safe. They're available in kid-size bowls (5.5″ diameter), cups (5oz) and plates (7.4″ diameter).

    Crocodile Creek

    Crocodile Creek just launched the cutest and most functional lunch gear!  Their new stainless steel drink bottles and PVC-free lunchboxes are the perfect pair for kids on the go.

    CaliBowl

    The one-of-a-kind CaliBowl is perfectly shaped to help toddlers and kids feed themselves without the mess!  They're available in BPA-free plastic or ceramic.

    Lunchbots

    The LunchBots containers and kid's dishes are the perfect container for packing a sandwich, burrito, grapes or nuts – your favorite lunch to go. 100% high quality stainless steel (both lid and container) make for a seriously durable and healthy food storage system!

    ECOLunches

    ECOLunchbox Waste-free Kit comes with a bamboo spork, stainless steel food container, sauce container with lid, cotton napkins – all in a handmade, durable carrying bag that can be used like a backpack. The stainless steel food and sauce containers can be purchased separately too.

    Thinkbaby

    Thinkbaby Stainless Steel Feeding Set includes a soup bowl and cereal bowl with lid, insulated bento box with snap down, leak-proof lid, cup with handle and utensils.

    Kids Konserve

    The Kids Konserve waste-free lunch gear was the natural outgrowth of what two women saw as a big need that required immediate attention. With the premise that any business they undertook had to help the environment in some way, it didn’t take much imagination to see how they, as parents of young children, were contributing to garbage landfills, pollutants and sending the wrong message to their own children.

    The lunch kit includes recycled cotton sack, cloth napkin, 16 oz. stainless steel beverage bottle, food kozy, two stainless steel food containers, and recycled aluminum name tag.

    Bambu

    The Bambu Kids line has a little bit of everything to make meals safer and more eco-friendly: Disposable Bamdino Plates, Mini Bowls, Spork and Utensil Sets

    Thermos

    Thermos continues to pump out safer feeding gear for kids. The FUNtainer Straw Bottles and Food Jars are amazing and in our experience, you just can't top their the versatility, durability and cuteness. We often entice our older kids to drink their water by loading up a straw bottle – it helps keep them from from feeling like they're missing out on those sugary drinks.

    Thinksport

    Thinksport has turned their grown-up water bottle into a mini me for kids! Just like the adult version, Thinksport's super light weight stainless steel bottle has an elegant design and is easy to hold and drink from. It holds 12oz, is vacuum sealed to keep drinks hot or cold for hours, won't “sweat” and fits into most car cup holders. The new mini me is be the perfect solution for sports teams on those hot summer days!

    Obentec

    Laptop Lunches were created by two Moms with school aged kids. Their mission is to help families improve lunchtime nutrition and reduce waste. They believe that healthy kids come from healthy communities and work hard to provide products free from BPA, PVC and Lead.

    Preserve

    Preserve dishware is made from recycled polypropylene (#5) which is BPA, PVC and phthalate free. Their products are reusable, dishwasher safe on low-heat cycles and made in the USA.

    Arrow Plastics

    Arrow is based in Illinois and all of their products are manufactured right here in the U.S. All of their plastic scrap, used corrugated containers, wrapping materials and pallets are recycled (none of these materials are deposited in landfills). You can often find these products at Walmart and on Amazon. All of their Frostware and Sip-a-cup/bowls/pops are made from polypropylene and are marked with recycling code #5.

    IKEA

    I'm impressed with IKEA because they have labeled ALL of their kids dishware and food containers with the materials used.  Hooray for IKEA!   They offer many BPA-free polypropylene options to choose from.

    What are your favorite non-toxic kid dishes?

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