The bathroom is probably the most overlooked area of an eco-conscious home. The simplest measures can go a long way to reducing both water and energy wastage in the bathroom.
Shower over Bath
The most obvious first step is to switch to showers as a primary choice overfilling a bath, except if you have a “power shower.” An average comparison of 62 liters per shower to 80 liters per bath shows how much you can save every time.
Reduce water usage further by showering for shorter periods and lather soaps and shampoos while switching off the water in between.
TIP: Collect grey water in buckets while you shower and water your plants. If you must bath, use the water to pre-rinse the day’s eco-friendly cloth nappies before you pull the plug.
Improve the Shower Head
A green bathroom remodeling project doesn’t have to be a huge one, to start with. Start with an aerator – an inexpensive gadget that screws onto your bathroom faucet.
It restricts water flow and can also be attached to your shower head.
Showers are only one up on baths with normal shower fixtures. Power showers which last for more than 8 minutes use on average 136 liters each time.
Switch to an eco-friendly aerating shower head, which gives the feel of a power shower, but saves water and uses far less energy.
Flick the Lights
The bathroom is often the last place in the house to be switched to LED or more eco-friendly lighting options.
Older lighting fixtures or halogen bulbs use excessive energy in comparison. LED lighting is a superior option, especially in the bathroom.
TIP: Even better, turn off the lights and light a few romantic candles or candle ‘lanterns’ instead. It is far more calming than glaring electric lighting.
In theory, you could turn off the tap between brushing and washing your face, but the reality is that many of us don’t. An automatic faucet can force everyone in your household to be more eco-friendly, plus it is fun!
Most of the water use each day routes through the toilet cistern! The average toilet uses 9 liters per flush and we are literally flushing money down the drain each time we pull the chain. Low flow toilets and dual flush systems are not the only green options these days.
Paper-less Automatic Toilet
The Toto toilet from Japan is a true marvel. The dual flush system is efficient and Toto also completely eliminates the need for toilet paper! To top it off, it may just save a virgin rainforest in the process.
As one of the biggest waste products in the world, toilet paper (which is made from trees!) is sent on its way to contaminate the underground water systems.
98% of all toilet paper sold in the United States is harvested from untouched forests.
Modern convenience also perpetuates the demand for ‘soft’ new paper instead of using recycled paper.
Instead of toilet paper, the Toto uses a small wand to expel gentle, tiny water bubbles while a click of a button starts the dryer to finish the job.
It is fresher and cleaner, plus you can continue to browse your smartphone or read your magazine while it does its thing.
TIP: Invest in a gadget like the Drop-A Brick, which you pop into the tank. Some water companies even give these types of devices away, free of charge.
Want to know how much water you use in a day? Check out the U.S. Geological Survey’s calculator.
It is time that we started using recycled water (or “greywater”) to do the flushing.
Greywater systems come in all sizes – a small, sink-toilet filter (like the one pictured here), or a large, household-wide system to collect from sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and showers (like the one pictured here).
The water you save is filtered, and can be used for flushing a toilet, and watering the garden all summer long, regardless of watering restrictions.
Drain water heat recovery (or greywater heat recovery) recovers and reuses hot water heat from the dishwasher, washing machine, and shower!
You could save as much as 60% of your heat energy by installing a system like this, and take one step closer to being self-sustainable.
Radiators are huge energy guzzlers, which are largely unnecessary in smaller bathrooms. More economical heating options are heated towel rails and underfloor heating.
Efficient Water Heaters
If the climate in your area is suitable, switch to a solar powered hot water system, not only for the bathroom but the kitchen and laundry, too.
A traditional hot water tank can also be converted into a tankless water heater, which uses a fraction of the energy. Insulating the water heater also works on efficiency.
The R Story Continues
Reduce, reuse, recycle does not only apply to the kitchen.
The bathroom cries out for a change in perspective and some out-of-the-bottle thinking on eco-friendly hygiene and products.
In the bathroom, we actively consume the most energy and expel the most waste.
From modern plumbing to ventilation, hair dryers, razors, and hot showers, there’s an ecological price to pay for convenience.
Do you really need to throw away that bathroom suite and replace it with a new one or would some new tiles and paint give the room a whole new look? Vintage is in fashion and some antique shelving or tiles may cost less and add a unique flavor to the whole room.
Next time you’re out shopping for shower curtains, take a look at what they are made of.
There are plenty of great looking shower curtains that use organic cotton, hemp or even bamboo to create a green look that is chic.
Don’t just look for green materials for the shower curtain.
There are plenty of choices for bath mats, trash cans, and toothbrush holders as well.
People feel they have to use products that contain chemicals in order to truly get rid of the dirt and grime in the bathroom.
It is possible to clean in an eco-friendly manner, however, if you stay on top of the process.
Just five minutes a day allows you to remain committed to your green ideals and keep the bathroom in tip-top shape.
Dry the bath after each use to prevent soap scum and mineral deposits, then hang the towel over the side to dry.
If you do spot mildew, try making your own eco-friendly, non-toxic solution
TIP: Reduce the mold and mildew formation by opening windows, closing the shower curtain after use to keep steam away from the walls.
If these all sounded like great ideas, but you’re not ready to take the plunge yet, start small.
- Buy toilet paper made from 100% recycled (like this product).
- Look for organic “green” ingredients – including tissues, cleaners, shampoos, and conditioners.
- Use a cloth shower curtain instead of using a plastic liner.
Lastly, move through your day with a greater awareness of the world around you, like buying soap knowing what is in it and how it got there, for example.
Palm Oil is an unsustainable resource. If you love Dove soap, consider contacting Unilever (form created by Greenpeace here) and do your part to save the rainforest from your bathroom.