Your Next Bathroom can be Clean and Green

On average the bathroom is the most expensive room in the house to build costing around $10,000, but it is also usually the smallest. For some reason, despite the cost, we still manage to make the room completely functional and uninspiring. A great time to rethink the design and function of your bathroom is when you decide the renovate it and give it the prominence it deserves. Designing your bathroom around green principles makes best use of the space and can save you some cash in the long run.

First take a look at the space. Most bathrooms are a five by eight feet box with the tub, sink and toilet all in a row and a small window space. Having the place where you deposit your waste right next to the space where you clean yourself, wrapped up in a warm, humid environment is a recipe for spreading bacteria making it a dangerous place to spend any time in. Cleaning it becomes harder as the bacterium grows into mold, and then there is a temptation to use harsh chemicals to keep it clean which harm the environment. Add to that a water guzzling toilet and you have your own environmental disaster going on right in the middle of your house.

The toilets in a home use as much as 27% of a home’s water consumption, so installing a water saving system is a must. There are many styles and varieties but chose one that is easy to maintain and has standard spares available. Make sure you check it regularly as a leaky flush can waste as much as 300 gallons a day. To make the toilet completely green, consider a grey water system where waste water from the sink and shower are collected to flush the toilet, or diverted to the garden.

Another green idea is to separate the toilet from the bathroom. The humidity is then kept away from the center of bacteria production and helps keep the space healthy and the air quality is vastly improved. Increase the window space if you can, and include an opening in each room. It will decrease the need for natural light or artificial ventilation. By creating a separate toilet and bathroom you also lessen the need for another bathroom as the bath and the toilet can be occupied at the same time and still maintain privacy.

From an earth friendly point of view, bathrooms are plumbed all wrong. Drinking water is used to flush the toilet, turning it into black water (soiled water that cannot be reused), which then contaminates the grey water (water which cannot be used for drinking, but does have other uses) so it all needs to washed away to harsh treatment plant to be processed. The irony of all this processing is that products carried away by the water can be recycled. Solid waste can be used as a fertilizer and urine is a great source of phosphorous. Building a composting toilet is a great idea – in the right place. A certified eco friendly toilet is the next best thing.

When looking to replace the sink try and find one with a vanity that has is higher so you don’t have to stoop over it. A recycled sink is a great option, especially if it is an old kitchen sink with a spray head tap. They save large amounts of water and mean you can wash your hair easily saving the need for another shower – or even worse – a bath. While your renovating, replace it with a shower! It will halve your water comsumption.

Bathroom renovation is the time to install earth friendly materials over the whole room, from hemp shower curtains to sanitized concrete, including bamboo towels, sealed non slip cork flooring and recycled glass tiles on the wall. The choice is amazing. Just make sure that every choice you make is sustainable, then the most expensive room in the house may also be the greenest.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!