As Earth Day approaches, I wanted to share some tips on how to make your home a little more eco-friendly. There are three very basic ways to go green in your bathroom. Below are simple steps you can do, one at a time or all at once, to transform your space into an eco-friendly bathroom. These small changes not only help the environment, but can also save you some money in the long run.
MINIMIZE YOUR WATER USE
The first way to make your bathroom more eco-friendly is by reducing your water consumption. There are several ways to minimize water use:
- Take shorter showers. Shorter showers means less water usage. Try using shower timers that limit your showers to five minutes. These timers adhere to shower walls and are available online. Alternatively, you can also listen to your favorite song to time your shower. Once the song is finished, so should your shower be.
- Switch to a high-efficiency shower head to slow down water flow. Many companies manufacture a variety of styles of high-efficiency shower heads that can compliment your existing bathroom decor. From my experience, although water flow slows down, it doesn’t mean that the shower head lacks power or is diminished in performance.
- Change your toilet to a low-flush or low-flow toilet for an eco-friendly bathroom. Approximately 76 gallons of water are flushed down the toilet per day per household.1 Low-flush toilet can reduce water usage by half depending on manufacturer. Additionally, some cities give residents a refund by installing these types of toilets. Check your city to see if you can get a refund by installing low-flow toilets in your bathrooms.
- Use aerators in your faucet. Similar to high-efficiency shower heads, aerators allow for reduced water output without giving up on performance.
CLEAN WITH GREEN
There are many, many choices in the market for household cleaners. A simple way to greenify your bathroom is by using products that are not only safe for you and your family, but also for the environment.
- Use eco-friendly bathroom cleaners. Green cleaners are made with natural ingredients that are not toxic to humans or animals, unlike some conventional cleaners that emit toxic chemicals2. Additionally, some eco-friendly cleaners are manufactured in a more sustainable process than conventional cleaners are. Examples of eco-friendly cleaners include botanical disinfecting wipes, toilet bowl cleaners, and glass cleaner. You can also find DIY household cleaner recipes printed in books and online.
- Ditch paper towels and opt for reusable cloth wipes and sponges instead. Paper products, including paper towels, comprised 15% of discarded trash in landfills.3 There are many types and brands of cloth wipes; some are made with cotton and wood-based pulp. Similar to cloth wipes, cloth sponges work well to clean surfaces, cleans streak free, and is incredibly absorbent.
- Avoid using chemicals to clean your floor. Use a steam mop or a green mop to clean the floor instead. Neither require harsh chemicals to clean, just water.
- Switch to eco-friendly shampoos, conditioners, body soap, and toothpaste that are SLS-free.
- Use a natural sponge, loofah, or pumice to exfoliate. Although effective in removing the top layer of your skin, soap and body scrubs with microbeads are a danger to marine animals.4 However convenient these products are, there are other ways of sloughing off your cells by using products that are natural. Alternatively, you can make your own body scrub. There are many recipes online that use items already in your cupboard as ingredients for these DIY scrubs.
- Switch to bamboo toothbrushes that are made from more sustainable resources and are biodegradable.
- Buy paper products that are chlorine-free, made from recycled paper, or made from bamboo. Paper manufacturers use up a lot of energy and produce toxic byproducts.5 Additionally, hundreds of thousands of trees are cut down a year to produce virgin toilet paper.6
- Another option is to start using family cloth. Family cloth are reusable toilet wipes. You can make them yourself or purchase from a retailer.
CHANGE THAT BULB
- Change your bulbs to energy efficient lightbulbs that use about 25%-80% less energy and last longer than than traditional incandescents.7
- Next time you want to relax in the tub with candles, opt for candles made with beeswax or soy. Candles made with paraffin emit toxic chemicals that are harmful.8
There you have it. A list of small and big steps you can do to make your bathroom a little greener.
What steps have you taken to create an eco-friendly bathroom?
1Indoor Water Use in the United States
2Cleaning products and air fresheners: exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants
3Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2012
4Why Those Tiny Microbeads In Soap May Pose Problem For Great Lakes
6A Shopper’s Guide to Home Tissue Products
7How Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents
8Emission of air pollutants from burning candles with different composition in indoor environments