8 Tips for Creating an Eco-Friendly Bathroom
Compared to the style in other rooms in your home, the décor in your bathroom probably looks sparse and functional. With a few small changes, you can give it a stylish makeover just in time to wow your holiday guests and make a big impact on your home's health and sustainability:
1. Cover with Care
New paint or wall covering can update the look of a bathroom in a flash, but many come loaded with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that threaten indoor air quality. Find low- and no-VOC options at your local home center.
2. Replace the Shower Curtain
Traditional vinyl curtains and liners are often made from materials like PVC, which can release VOCs. These can elevate the level of air toxins in your home for up to a month, according to the EPA. Further, many companies add phthalates to their curtains to make them more pliable. If vinyl is your only choice, air the curtain outdoors for several days to reduce off-gassing.
If you're remodeling, opt for a glass shower door and avoid a curtain entirely. But for a quick, eco-friendly facelift, choose a fabric curtain made from hemp, organic cotton or naturally antimicrobial bamboo. Fabric is easy to clean (just toss in the washing machine) and if you purchase sustainably-sourced material, your choice can have a lasting impact.
3. Choose a New Bath Mat
Bath mats made from 100% bamboo come in a wide range of colors and textures and don't require you to compromise a chic look to be good to the earth. Or for something even closer to natural, you can also step out of the shower onto a moss carpet, which will flourish in the damp environment of the bathroom and provide the added benefit of fresher air.
4. Inspect the Bath Toys
Even grownups have been known to have a bath toy or two, but many traditional plastic bath toys are riddled with BPA, PVC and phthalates that can leach into the hot water. Instead of tossing caution to the wind, toss in toys that you know are free of the big three. This guide from Simply Natural Mom is a perfect jumping-off point for making bath time both green and clean.
5. Makeover Personal Care Products
The bathroom is home to most of our beauty and hygiene needs. While these don't qualify as "décor" now is a great time to consider making more mindful choices. Check out EWG's guide to the safety of personal care products and consider replacing suspect products
6. Clean Green
Get rid of the harsh chemicals you use to clean tubs and toilets. Pay attention to the government-mandated warning labels on cleaning products; the terms used, from least to most toxic, are "caution," "warning" and "poison/danger." Aim for products that don’t require such a warning label or those that say “caution” only. Seek out environment-conscious brands. Look for cleaners like these at your local retailer.
7. End the Paper Trail
We use a lot of paper in the bathroom, from personal cleanup to wiping down the sink when we don't have a towel at hand. Go recycled. Enough said.
8. Clear the Air
For the healthiest bathroom on the block, ensure you have adequate ventilation. If your system isn't where you want it to be, you don't have a window to crack, and you're not planning on a full remodel anytime soon, there are some temporary fresh air solutions: add a houseplant, leave the door slightly ajar, and set a fan blowing outward into the house (toward an open window) during a long shower.
Have you done a bathroom Eco-Makeover? Share some of your best tips!