Sustainable Saturday - 10 Tips for Getting to Green in the Bathroom

This week's Sustainable Saturday is the fourth part of a new Series called Getting to Green.  This Series will focus on easy, cost-effective ways to implement green ideas or concepts throughout your home and life. 

10 Tips for Getting to Green in the Bathroom 

1.  Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products or consider making your own.  Using common household ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, essential oils, olive oil and spray bottles made with recycled plastic you can make your own basic cleaners.  You can find recipes for Sink & Tub Cleaner, Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Glass Cleaner.

2.  Choosing an all natural, non-toxic Shower Curtain that does not contain PVC or vinyl.  PVC and vinyl emit toxic gases which impact the Indoor Air Quality in your bathroom and home.  In addition, PVC and vinyl shower curtains do not last long, do not recycle well and typically end up in a landfill.

Here are some all natural, non-toxic Shower Curtain options:
  • Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA) Shower Curtains: As durable as PVC but without the hormone-disrupting, asthma-inducing phthalates. 
  • Hemp Shower Curtains:  Shower curtains made from hemp are naturally mildew resistant and they’re machine washable.  
  • Linen Shower Curtains: Organic flax linen shower curtains are a beautiful alternative to PVC or vinyl shower curtains.  
  • Organic Cotton Shower Curtains:  Organic cotton shower curtains are another green alternative to vinyl shower liners.
Retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and IKEA carry all natural alternatives at an affordable price like Bed Bath & Beyond's Ice Circles Vinyl Shower Curtain ($19.99) or IKEA's FINNGRUND Shower Curtain, which are made of chloride-free PEVA vinyl.

3.  Consider Towels made of either Bamboo or Organic Cotton. Bamboo features cashmere like softness with greater absorbency than cotton. It is grown without pesticides, grows quickly making it one of the most sustainable fiber crops.  Conventionally grown cotton is responsible for the largest use of insecticides.  Cotton grown without the chemicals or pesticides (Organic Cotton) allow the cotton to be at its natural best and free from the residual chemicals.

4.  Install Low Flow Faucet Aerators on Sinks.  Low Flow Faucet Aerators save 77% more water and energy then a standard 2.2 GPM aerator.  You can purchase a faucet aerator for a $1 or less.

5.  Install a Low Flow Shower Head.  On average, showers are 18% of indoor water use, at 6-8 gallons per minute traditionally in the United States.  A simple method to reduce this usage is to switch to low-flow, high-performance showerheads. These showerheads use only 1.0-1.5 gpm or less.

6.  Install Dual Flush Toilet Conversion Kit.  Toilets account for almost 30% of residential indoor water use in the United States.  Consider finding a way to reduce the water usage of your current toilet by installing a Dual Flush Toilet Conversion Kit, put weighted plastic bottles in the toilet tank or install a tank bank or float booster.  If you are considering replacement, consider purchasing a low flush or low flow toilet.  National Geographic's Green Guide:  Toilet Buying Guide

7.  Install Energy Star rated Exhaust Fans.  Ventilation is a key component of an energy-efficient house, and Energy Star-rated bathroom fans can play an important role in the overall energy-savings picture.

The Home Ventilating Institute, which supplies the EPA with product testing and certification information, offers the following tips for bathroom ventilation:
  • For bathrooms up to 100 square feet in area, an exhaust fan should provide 1 cfm per square foot, for example: An 8-foot-by-5-foot bathroom has an area of 40 feet so it should have a 40-cfm fan.
  • For bathrooms greater than 100 square feet, ventilation is based on the number and type of fixtures present, noting the following items require the minimum cfms stated: toilet—50 cfm; shower—50 cfm; tub—50 cfm; jetted tub—100 cfm.
  • The bathroom fan should be left on for 20 minutes after the use of the bathroom to completely ventilate the room.
8.  Consider Environmentally Friendly Personal Care Products.  Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an online Cosmetic and Personal Care Products Database which analyzes many personal care products.  This database will provide you with an overall Hazard Score and then you can access as much or little additional information on that product as you wish. 

9.  Consider Environmentally Friendly Paper Products.  Look for products from Seventh Generation, Marcal and other products that have recycled material content.  Many times you can purchase these items at a discount from Babies R Us, or

10. Recycle.  There are many products that are used in the bathroom that can be recycled including personal care product containers and toilet paper rolls. 

You can read the entire Getting to Green series here:   

Sustainable Saturday - 10 Tips for Getting to Green in the Kitchen 
Sustainable Saturday - 10 Tips for Getting to Green in the Bedroom
Sustainable Saturday - 10 Tips for Getting to Green in the Living Areas (Living/ Dining/ Family/ Office)

Resources:  ecohome - Bath Products Review:  Bathroom Fans and National Geographic Green Guide - Toilet Buying Guide.

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