If you can make your bathroom greener, you’re halfway to making your entire home more environmentally friendly. Whether it’s the water we’re wasting or the caustic chemicals we’re using, how we use our bathrooms can have a dramatic impact on the environment.
Fortunately, it’s not all that difficult to go green in the bathroom. Just a few modifications and changes to your hygiene rituals can make a big difference.
1. Install an efficient toilet
A toilet accounts for, on average, around a quarter of the average home’s total water usage. If you can make a significant reduction in the amount of water your toilet uses, you’ll make your entire home greener.
Older toilets use between five and seven gallons of water on every flush. However, low-flow versions use less than a quarter of that. While these state-of-the-art toilets are more expensive than regular models, they could slash your water bills over the course of a year.
Alternatively, you could reduce your toilet’s water usage even further by investing in a rainwater collection system. With so much rain about these days, your supply for flushing would probably be never-ending!
Tip: If you simply don’t have the money to replace your toilet, place a brick in the cistern, which will cut your water usage by around 10 percent on every flush.
2. Install an efficient shower head
If you have a standard shower head in your bathroom right now, you’re probably using between five and eight gallons of water every minute. If you have a five minute shower, you’re using up to 45 gallons. By switching to a low-flow shower head, you could reduce that to around 10 gallons — without affecting the quality of your showers.
3. Install motion sensor taps
Most of use waste a crazy amount of water when we wash our hands or brush our teeth. Washing your hands, for instance, should require no more than a cup of water, yet in all likelihood you’re using at least three or four. By installing motion sensor taps in your bathroom, water will only be dispensed when you absolutely need it. Again, this is a relatively expensive option, but it has the potential to slash your annual water bill.
4. Use green bathroom products
Almost everything we use in our bathrooms has the potential to be greener. From the hand soap you use to the type of toilet paper, most things can be substituted with a greener alternative.
Look for cleaning and hygiene products that are certified green or organic. Many shower gels, shampoos and conditioners contain certain petrochemicals and parabens — both of which can cause health issues and damage to the environment. Switch to products that are free from these substances, or those that are made with solely natural ingredients.
5. Install an energy-efficient extractor fan
A good extractor fan removes excess moist air from a bathroom to prevent mould. However, many fans run for long periods, which uses a huge amount of power. By switching to an energy-efficient model, you can half the power you’re using to keep your bathroom dry and mould-free. Also, switch your fan on manually for 15 minutes after a bath or shower, rather than letting it run automatically.
Only ever use reusable towels in your bathroom and toilet, and make sure all your toilet tissue is recycled. Less than 10 percent of toilet roll sold in the UK utilizes recycled paper, so make sure you check the packaging before buying it. And check that all of those plastic bottles that store shampoos, gels, washes and conditioners end up in the recycling bin. To make sure they do, put a small plastics bin in your bathroom.
7. Use homemade cleaners
There is nothing in your bathroom that can’t be cleaned with water, white vinegar, lemon juice and baking powder. Make a paste with vinegar and baking soda to clean all of your bathroom surfaces, and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to create a pleasant aroma. You can also clean and sanitise any bathroom surface — including porcelain, tiles and lino — with a handheld steam cleaner.
By making just a few alterations to how we use our bathroom — and the products in it — we can make a big difference to the environment together.