New Year – New Bathroom! (Make it Green)

A New Year is the perfect time to detox your home and become more eco-friendly. For many, the path to an eco-friendly home starts in the bathroom. This is the place where water flows freely, paper products run wild and tile cleaners contain toxins. Don’t fret and worry that remediation is a large or slow progress, for there are quick, easy steps that can make your throne room fit for green royalty. Try some of the following tips to turn this room where you clean your body, beautify your face and dispose of unmentionables into the cleanest, greenest room in your home.

  1. Curtain Calls

Is your shower curtain made from PVC (Poly-Vinyl Chloride)? If your answer is yes, then, it’s time to toss it. PVC gives off volatile organic compounds or VOCs. VOCs are air borne particles that are the building blocks of smog. Who wants smog in their bathroom and their home? For a safer alternative try PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate). But the ultimate green alternative is hemp, which naturally resists mildew and is biodegradable. Organic cotton and curtains made of jute will work well too.

  1. Towel Up

Bamboo is one of the most flexible sustainable resources but the process of taking bamboo from plant to towel can be a fairly chemically-laden, unless it’s manufactured in a closed loop system. It’s hard to be sure what happens in the manufacturing process in a closed loop process as transparency does not seem to be a ptority for some of the companies that use it. For a sure bet stick to organic cotton. It’s grown without the use of herbicides and pesticides, in a sustainable manner and is all natural. Again, like your shower curtain, hemp is a good green option and is becoming more mainstream for bathroom fashion. Always look for natural fibers with an organic certification and avoid synthetics like rayon and polyester.

  1. Clean Up Job

Our bathrooms are normally a warehouse of different chemical concoctions like bleach, ammonia, disinfectant and other toxic chemicals. They do a great job of making our bathrooms smell clean and fresh, but they are also adding to indoor air pollution. The harmful substances in the chemicals can be very bad, sometimes fatal, which is especially dangerous if you have allergies. Always read labels, when there is a component of fragrance, phosphates, phenols, bleach and ammonia consider disposing of it ethically and choosing a natural or green option. There are numerous green products/cleansers out there. To go even greener it is much better if you can make your own non-toxic cleaning solutions.

Making your bathtub clean and shiny the natural way is very easy, combine 1/2 cup of baking soda and liquid soap (you can make liquid soap out of the scraps of natural, organic soap that are left when the bar gets too small to use, popped into a cup with a little water and left to liquefy), just be sure to use enough soap liquid to make a creamy mixture. Grab a sponge or micro fiber cloth and off you go. Scrub-scrub-scrub! Voila! You have a naturally shiny and squeaky baths tub!

When it comes to your personal hygiene like shampoos, conditioners, creams, lotions and potions, less is more. Almost all conventional beauty products contain a slew of really nasty and horrible chemicals, like parabens, phthalates, sulphates and fragrance. Always read the labels closely (I know sometimes we get lazy on reading such labels and buy on products that we are used to…) and avoid these ingredients whenever you can. If you want to check how green your beauty products are check Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics site and search a database of over 65,000 products. You can also search on The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, another database where you can punch in a given ingredient and it will rank its toxicity on a scale of one to 10.

  1. Down and Dirty

One of the most important things you can do in your bathroom is to stop using virgin disposable tissue paper products. Whenever you buy toilet paper, make sure it is made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials. For tissues, use an organic cloth hanky that can be washed and resued and for paper towels, use a micro fiber cloth. It is reusable and washes well.

  1. Game of Throne

The toilet is a monstrous water hogging camel! Every time you flush you are sending our natural resources down the drain, up to 26 liters of it to be exact. So don’t use it as a garbage can. It is advisable to install a dual flush toilet and save water. There are also numerous a line of innovative water saving toilets in the market today. Search around for a green solution that works for you. They range from a zip seal bag of stones in the cistern to not flushing at all – or even a composting toilet!

  1. Renovate

2015 is a great time to think about renovating your bathroom. For paint look for no or low VOCs.

You can also try recycled glass tiles, recycled paper molding and even recycled denim insulation.

For flooring, the greenest and cleanest option is to look for a locally sourced and Forest Stewardship Council Certified (FSC) woods. FSC ensures that the wood comes from well-managed forests. Another option is linoleum, but you must make sure it is made from plant-based materials like linseed oil, pine resin and powdered cork. Linoleum lasts much longer than vinyl (up to 40 years) and also has antimicrobial qualities. So throw away those vinyl’s and pick plant based linoleum for flooring.

  1. Number one fan

Installing an energy-efficient fan will pull moist air from the bathroom; it helps to combat mold, a common allergen. You can also blast mold with a central window in your bathroom where sunlight can seep in. Mold does not like direct sunlight.

To fight mildew, dry your shower curtain, shower and tub after use, and keep the room well ventilated.

Get rid of air fresheners. Like all conventional cleaners, air fresheners contain an array of nasty and mean chemicals that does not actually eliminate the causes of bad smells but simply mask them. Combat it with fresh air instead. It is natural and free!

  1. Mats

Choose natural fiber bath mats, as most conventional ones have a PVC baking which will off gas as it gets older, but also when it gets wet. Wash your mat once a week to keep mold from growing, or follow the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping it clean.

Other Green Bathroom tricks:

Install a low flow shower head, put a CFL above the sink, turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, check for leaky faucets and take short showers. Even better: make it a shower for two! It does not only save water but also your relationship!

Use jars, bottles and containers (spaghetti sauce, jam) as your apothecary. They look great and keep the bathroom clutter free. You can put cotton swabs, cotton balls and bath salts in them. So pretty and so environment friendly!

Recycle items in your bathroom that can be recycled or have a proper waste management. Anything that contains chemicals and toxins need to be disposed of with care.  There’s a huge variance from municipality to municipality over what recycling gets picked up at the curb and what cannot be thrown in the garbage, so be sure to check with the waste management offices in your area. Here is the link to the waste management sites for the city:

http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/Waste-and-Recycling-Services.aspx

Taking the time to give your bathroom and green makeover can make your home less polluted, kinder to the environment and look great too! It’s a win/win all the way round.

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!