Looking to go green in your bathroom? You can have a green bathroom with these easy ways to save water and energy. Your shower, your toilet and your sink can all be eco-bathroom fixtures. You'll lower your water and electric bills, too, with these green bathroom ideas.
The Green Bathroom: A Royal Flush
Toilets use more water than any other appliance in your house -- about 30 percent of home water use is flushing. For a green bathroom, fix or replace your toilet if it's leaking (good new toilets cost less than $100), install a water-saving new toilet if yours is older than 1992 (when water-conserving toilets became mandatory), and try not flushing after you urinate -- just close the lid. And if you're really flush with cash (sorry, I couldn't help it), install a new dual-flush toilet, which has separate settings for #1 and #2, or consider a super-green composting toilet.
Save Water and Sink to my Level
This is another easy, cheap way to have a green bathroom. A faucet aerator -- the little attachment that makes the water come out bubbly -- costs about $2 and takes about 2 minutes to install. Of course, you'll also want to fix those leaky faucets and pipes. And while we're at it, do you really need to run the water while brushing your teeth? It may not seem like much, but it adds up fast. One final note: Brushing your teeth or washing your hands with hot water does absolutely nothing for your hygiene, prevents no diseases, kills no germs, and runs up your energy bill -- so use the cold water.
Shower Power in a Green Bathroom
A shower is much more water-conserving than a bath, which uses an estimated 7 times the amount of water that a shower uses. (Plus, you're not sitting in your own dirt -- yuck!) And a low-flow showerhead is a great way to reduce the amount of hot water you're using. If you're feeling really spartan, try a "Navy shower" by turning the shower off while you lather up. The biggest shower offense? Those enormous "rain forest" shower heads that blast out enough water to float a battleship -- they're like an SUV for your shower.
The Paper Trail to a Green Bathroom
It might be hard to believe, but it's true -- toilet paper is often made from old-growth forests, the ancient stands of trees that take hundreds of years to replace. In our quest for the most pillowy, cloud-like butt wipe, we're killing millions of trees every year. Look instead for TP with at least some recycled content. Trust me, it will work just fine, and if it costs an extra 45 cents -- splurge.
It's Curtains for You: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
The heavy, cloying smell of a new shower curtain is actually VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are associated with a range of health conditions, including cancer, kidney damage, liver damage and brain damage. Even when you can't smell them, VOCs are drifting around for years after products containing them are manufactured. Healthy alternatives include shower curtains made from mold-resistant products like hemp, glass or plastic doors, or fabric curtains you can wash.
Green Cleaners and Clean Green Bathroom
Everyone loves your squeaky-clean green bathroom, but don't kill yourself -- literally. Many household cleaning products contain hazardous materials that are combustible, corrosive or poisonous. You can try making your own cleaners using safer, less industrial ingredients for a fraction of what commercial products cost, or buy green cleaners that are certified by Green Seal as being healthy, more natural cleaning products.
Natural Skin Care: Get Into a Lather
Soaps, shampoos, shaving creams and toothpastes aren't tested by any agency for safety, and some advocates have charged that they contain harmful ingredients. If you're concerned about that, spend a few pennies more on health and beauty products that contain natural or certified organic ingredients.
Something in the Air: Mold and Mildew
Mold, mildew and the lingering -- and harmful -- scents of vinyl shower curtains and caustic cleaning products can turn your green bathroom into an air quality nightmare. All of these contribute to serious health problems, including asthma, allergic reactions and worse. If you can, crack a window to provide natural ventilation, or install and use a ventilating fan.