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!
Monday, March 9th, 2009