From excess water usage to dangerous cleaning chemicals, the bathroom can be the least green space in your home. But you can give the room an eco-friendly makeover. Updating your bathroom so that it is more environmentally friendly not only helps reduce your home’s carbon footprint, but it can make the space more visually appealing as well. Luckily, making a few eco-friendly updates to your bathroom does not have to be a huge remodeling project. Most of the changes are simple and can be done in a day or over the weekend.
#1- Go Low-Flow
Many toilets use up to six gallons of water each time you flush. That is an extreme waste of water. Newer low flow models use only 1.5 gallons a flush. A new eco-friendly toilet not only reduces your water bill, but it can brighten up the entire room.
Bathroom faucets and shower heads also traditionally let a lot of water run down the drain. Reduce water consumption by replacing older models with new low-flow faucets and shower heads. Low flow does not mean low pressure. Even though less water comes out of the faucet, it is still pressurized, so your shower experience is not compromised. Look for a visually appealing shower head with a flow rate under 2.5 gallons per minute and a faucet with a flow rate under 1.5 gallons per minute.
#2- Think Organic
Sometimes, a new set of bath linens is all you need to brighten and update your bathroom. Choose towels and bath mats made of organic cotton or natural fibers such as hemp or bamboo. If you need a shower curtain, choose one made from a recycled material such as recycled polyester or from an organic fabric. Although it is water-proof, steer clear of a vinyl shower curtain. The production of vinyl harms the environment. Vinyl can also release harmful chemicals as it ages.
#3- Avoid VOC’s
Painting your bathroom walls a vibrant new color is one of the easiest ways to give the space a fresh new look. To remain as eco-friendly as possible, choose paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some paints emit VOCs, or gases, that can harm your health. VOCs are more concentrated indoors, thanks in large part, to paints. If you want to go even further, you can pick a soy-based paint product rather than a latex or oil-based paint. Another eco-friendly paint option is milk paint, which is made out of cow’s milk.
#4-Let There Be Light
Incandescent light bulbs use a lot of energy. They may be cheap, but they also do not last very long. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use considerably less energy and last considerably longer. They cost more upfront, but you end up saving money on your electricity bills down the road.
Fluorescent light in the bathroom can be stylish and flattering. CFL bulbs work in regular light fixtures, so use any type of fixture that you like. Choose a stylish fixture that acts as a focal point and complements the color scheme of the room. Consumer Reports recommends looking for bulbs with a temperature of 2700 Kelvin, which is similar to the color you get with incandescent.
#5-Re-Use and Recycle
If you plan on retiling your shower or bathroom floor, use tiles made from recycled glass or ceramic. Recycled tile can easily be found in home improvement stores and online, and there are lots of styles and varieties to choose from. If you are re-doing the bathroom cabinets, use reclaimed or recycled wood to make them. You will lessen the environmental impact of the project and you will end up with cabinets that are one of a kind. Another option is to buy used cabinets or a used vanity. Take a look at local thrift stores or area yard sales. You never know what you might find.
Experiment with these options to create an updated bathroom that is more environmentally friendly.
This article is contributed by Brandon Mercury, who writes about home improvement and design. He writes regularly for VivintSource.com, a leader in home security and automation.