So, you've just unrolled your brand-new, eco-friendly yoga mat. Now what do you do with the old one? It could join the small army of once-loved mats standing at attention in your closet. Or, you could put it to better use by recycling or reusing it. Yoga mat recycling programs, inspired by the wish of many yogis to make their practice more earth friendly, are cropping up across the country. As Stephanie Stano, the founder of Recycle Your Mat, in Eugene, Oregon, says, "I thought, 'Yoga has given me so much. It's time to give back and help green the industry as a whole by recycling mats.'" Here are a few of our favorite things to do with that mat you're not using anymore.
Recycle Your Mat (recycleyourmat.com) collects used mats from around the country, sorts them by material, and sends them on to manufacturers who use them to make things like other yoga products and padding for laptop bags. Stano launched a national studio drop-off program in January 2009. (Check with your studio to see if it has a collection; the program's reach ranges from Boston to Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles.) The company partners with Manduka, which offers a 20 percent discount on its products to program participants.
Take advantage of your mat's sticky qualities by using it as a nonslip liner for the trunk of your car. This can be great for keeping groceries and other items from sliding around. Or put it on the back seat to protect the upholstery from muddy paws or sports gear. There, you'll also have it handy to use for impromptu picnics.
If your old mat's still in good condition, send it to the Bolder Mat Company. Founder Amber Kastenschmidt accepts donations of gently used mats, cleans them, and sends them on at no charge to schools, safe houses, prisons, and shelters that have requested yoga mats for use by at-risk populations. A donation nets you a coupon code for $5 off a new eco-friendly mat from the company (theboldermatcompany.com).
Turn your old yoga prop into new ones. Put it under your new mat when doing floor poses if you like extra cushioning; cut it up to make kneepads for Low Lunges, or create an under-the-wrist support for when you do Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) or Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). Roll up two old mats together and tie with ribbon or twine to make a bolster for supported reclining postures. To make a very thin roll, such as one to tuck behind your knees in Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), cut your mat into thirds or quarters before rolling it up.