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9
Mar

10 Ways to Green Your Bathroom

by Tiffany in A Green Home

I get so many questions asking me where to start in regards to going green. So I thought I would start doing a room by room feature with green tips for the whole house…today we begin with bathrooms. Bathrooms can be a very wasteful place…lots of water use, garbage generation, and potentially toxic cleaning. Here are some easy ways to green your bathroom…

1. Stop flushing so much – With each flush we use 3-5 gallons of water. You can reduce those numbers greatly by simply deciding to flush less. We DO use the yellow mellow policy in our house if you catch my drift. It means we flush anywhere from 5-6 times less per day. You might even decide to pee in the shower while you are washing up, no flushing required. ;)

You can also save water by putting a water bottle in the holding tank. You can use a small size water bottle or a half gallon milk jug, depending on how much room you have in the tank. Just fill the bottle or jug with 1-2 inches of rock to make it sink and then fill with water. Now when the tank refills it uses less water, perhaps only 1-2 gallons per flush. Easy!

2. Switch out your showerhead – Making a switch to a low flow showerhead is an easy way to save water in the shower. My personal showerhead choice is a smart showerhead from Evolve. It addresses a common habit…leaving the water running while it heats up. No one wants to step into frigid water but it is all too easy to turn it on and then leave to do other things. This showerhead has a built-in sensor that senses when the water is warm enough, around (95 degrees) then “pauses” the flow of water, retaining instead of wasting your hot water. When you hear the water stop running you know your shower is ready to go. When you are ready to get in, jump in and turn the valve to resume water flow.

3. Put an aerator in the faucet – Older faucets may use between 3 and 7 gallons of water per minute. You can fix this by adding an inexpensive, low-flow faucet aerator and use as little as 1.5 gallons of water per minute. They just screw into an existing faucet and away you go…on your way to water savings.

4. Cloth OR recycled toilet paper – My daughter and I often use cloth wipes or family cloth instead of toilet paper for urination. We also all use recycled toilet paper for solid waste. This reduces our need for toilet paper by half and buying recycled toilet paper will help to conserve resources.

5. Green cleaners – Chemical cleaners are anything but green. They pollute the air, they pollute our waterways when we send them down the sink, and they are not very healthy for us to be exposed to. Instead we should use green cleaners such as baking soda vinegar, castile soap, lemons, and essential oils. Check out my favorite green cleaners here.

6. Choose a shower curtain wisely – Vinyl shower curtains contain PVC, the poison plastic. The off-gassing from these shower curtains can cause many health issues and it is just silly when there are more healthy options like hemp, cotton, and EVA vinyl. I have a list of safe shower curtains here.

7. Organic or bamboo towels – The cotton industry uses an insane amount of pesticides to grow their product. By choosing organic cotton towels and washcloths we support growers that are using sustainable methods and we send a message with our shopping dollars. Bamboo is another sustainable option and there are many wonderful and soft bamboo towels available. Bamboo towels are actually my favorite for line drying. They don’t get crunchy like other towels can, they stay super soft.

8. Recycled or wooden toothbrushes – Getting a new plastic toothbrush every 2-3 months adds up to a lot of waste for a family. Instead why not try Preserve toothbrushes. They are made of recycled yogurt cups and the company will take them back after you are done using them to recycle them again! You can also buy wooden toothbrushes as I have on many occasions. I like the feel of a wooden toothbrush…it feels so rustic and campy. You can buy one that is 100% wood or one like the Radius that has a wooden handle with recycled plastic tops that can be replaced over and over again.

9. No shampoo bottles – Shampoo bottles account for a lot of bathroom waste and plastics use. We can change all of that by using shampoo bars instead. They work just like a bar of soap but they are formulated for use on the hair. Often times they come wrapped in paper or fabric that can be reused or composted.  I have been using shampoo bars for years and have listed some of my favorites here. In fact don’t buy any soap that comes in a plastic bottle and imagine how much less waste you are generating every year.

10. Grow Your Own Loofah – Did you know that the loofahs you use to exfoliate in the shower actually come from a plant you can grow yourself? Plant a couple of these vines when the weather starts to get warm and then in the summer harvest several dozen gourds that can then be skinned, de-seeded, and dried out. They make a great alternative to sponges when washing dishes and a homegrown loofah makes a great gift for the holidays. Save the seeds and you have some for next year! When searching for them they are called Luffa Gourds. I am growing some this year…

Incorporate some or all of these ideas and you will be on your way to a greener bathroom in no time!

  • Tiffany: I love the suggestion of shampoo bars. As much as I have “greened” my lifestyle, this was a new one to me. Thanks for the info! I always learn something from you! :) Cheers, Kimberly

  • Jackie

    Thanks for reminding me about my shampoo bar. I bought one last year and tried it, but after about 2 1/2 months, my hair still didn’t feel “right”. It seemed very oily to me. But…I was pregnant at the time and decided to stop using it and try again after the baby was born and my hormones weren’t so crazy! So hopefully this time, it will work out better for me : )

  • leslie

    I love shampoo and conditioner bars as well (Lush’s work great and are vegan and paraben-free). I have see cloth Wipes at Wallypop (I think that’s the site). I thought about just making some too. I use Gladrags feminine products and love them. Same set for nearly a decade it seems!

  • Amen on the bamboo towels! We line dry everything and only have one bamboo towel, it’s the only one that stays soft and it’s obviously my favorite one. I’ll steal it from the other bathroom if I have to :)

  • Kim

    I noticed that Costco had a showerhead like this and their prices are usually better.
    Target carries the “safe” shower curtains.
    Save some green as you go green.

  • Sommer Green & Clean Mom

    I just wrote about cleaning too! It must be in the air. You have some great tips. I like the stop flushing so much. My husband says it’s gross but he isn’t home all day so oh, well! LOL!

  • Great information!

    I wanted to share that we have a shower head where you can turn off the flow of water near the head part which is what we do when we are soaping up in the shower. And…our last water bill showed a use of 1,500 less gallons of water in a period of 60 days!! I was so excited to see this change.

    We also have a low flow toilet and have been practicing less flushing for a few years now.

    My next endeavor is to put a little bit of water in a cup to use for teeth brushing rather than turning the tap on and off. I did it when I lived overseas and had to filter all of my water and I think I can work it in as a habit again!

    Every little bit helps.

    I love reading your blog!!

  • Thank you for an informative post. Don’t think I’m ready to consider cloth wipes yet but will look into the others!

  • Melissa

    Tiffany, please share what you and your daughter use for the cloth wipes. This was a great post. Thanks for keeping me informed and giving me positive peer pressure.

  • v

    I’ve also been thinking about green bathroom ideas. We definitely employ the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow’ technique. Also, I just ordered a shampoo bar from Blue House Soaps (because of a suggestion from one of your previous blogs). Another blogger recently suggested to me that we install a bathroom sprayer in our bathroom (like a bidet, but not an entirely separate toilet fixture like the one in the picture, just a sprayer to attach to our toilet) to cut down on toilet paper waste.

  • In order to save water in your toilet you can also do one trick: if you have old toilet system (9 litres or more) you can take 2 Litres lemonade bottle, fill it with water and put in the toilet system. It will save you 2 litres of water every time you flush your toilet. Saves money and environment at the same time ;)

  • Please tell your readers to avoid vinyl shower curtains, the plasticisers used to make vinyl flexible are similar to the BPA that we all want to avoid.  http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/eco-friendly/vinyl-shower-curtains-460613

    • I did mention that in the article…