Posted on: 15.04.2015.

Author: Ana G

Go Green in Your Bathroom in 5 Easy Steps

CC Image courtesy of  jinkazamah on Flickr

You would be surprised to discover how many benefits the practice of going green can bring to the table. Sure, reducing your impact on the environment to help save the planet is the main one, but becoming more eco-friendly also helps reduce waste and save money, thus improving the state of your house budget. By bringing the whole family in on the act, you can teach your kids important lessons about the impact we all have on the environment and show them how even the smallest steps can make a huge difference. We all begin and end our days in the bathroom, so why not start there?

There are numerous opportunities for going green in the bathroom, and the benefits of doing so include:

  • Staying healthier and maintaining a safer indoor environment by swapping harsh chemical cleaners with green, organic products
  • Reducing your family's carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment
  • Supporting ethical business practices by purchasing eco-friendly products and accessories
  • Saving money by consuming less water and energy
  • Engaging in easy, do-it-yourself activities with your child to achieve your goal of making the bathroom a green oasis
  • Imparting important lessons to your child about the environment and going green

Going green in the bathroom is easier than you probably think. Make it a family act by including kids in some of the following steps. Before you know it, you'll drastically reduce your impact on the environment and will save money and energy too!

Consider these 5 simple steps for making your bathroom a greener place.

1. Reduce Water Usage

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There are tons of ways to reduce the amount of water you and your family use in the bathroom. Start by encouraging everyone, including your little ones, to turn off faucets while washing up, brushing teeth and performing other everyday activities.

Set the example and teach your kids early on to take showers rather than baths, as a five-minute shower uses as little as 14 percent of the water used during a bath. Encourage everyone in your family to make showers as brief as possible too.

Fix leaks in faucets as soon as they occur. Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more  per day. The same applies to leaking or running toilets. Repairing leaks and fixing toilets are generally do-it-yourself tasks, and it pays to learn how to do them.

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Toilets account for about 30 percent of the water that's used in the typical household. Consider investing in a dual-flush model, which has two handles for different flushing levels and can save 9,000 gallons per year. Low-flow models consume around 1.3 gallons per flush, which is a major improvement over the 3.5 to seven gallons per flush that's used by standard toilets.

Install low-flow shower heads, which consume about 2.5 gallons or less per minute as opposed to the five to eight gallons per minute that are used by standard heads. Going forward, your showers will consume 25 to 60 percent less water. Similarly, install aerators on your faucets, which will shoot air into water streams to use less water.

2. Use Green Cleaning Products

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Be sure to pay attention to government-mandated warning labels on household cleaning products. From best to worse, they escalate as follows: caution, warning and poison/danger.

Standard household cleaners are loaded with harsh chemicals and toxins that may negatively impact the health of you and your children. Fortunately, plenty of eco-friendly alternatives are available. Research green cleaning brands containing all-natural, organic ingredients. They're not only better for you and your kids, but they help to promote ethical business practices too.

Alternatively, you can make and use your own cleaning products. A few examples include:

  • All-Purpose Cleaner - Mix distilled vinegar and baking soda. Apply it to the surface you'd like to clean and let it sit for 30 minutes. Scrub it down, and you're good to go!
  • Mold Cleaner - Remove stubborn mold from a shower head by soaking it in a mixture of hot white vinegar for about an hour and then rinsing it thoroughly.
  • Scrubbing Cleaner - Combine baking soda and castile soap with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Apply it to the bathtub or whatever else needs scouring and scrub away grime.

Regardless of which cleaners you use, be sure to keep them out of reach of small children.

3. Invest in Eco-Friendly Accessories

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Whenever possible, use reusable products like towels and rags instead of paper towels to wipe down the bathroom. Similarly, use reusable toilet bowl brushes to keep the bowl sparkling clean without creating a lot of waste.

Buy toilet paper and paper towels that are made out of recycled materials. Similarly, invest in towels and washcloths made out of eco-friendly, sustainable materials like organic cotton and bamboo. Organic cotton is farmed using techniques that require far fewer pesticides. Bamboo is not only fast-growing and highly sustainable, but it may include antibacterial properties that keep you and your family healthier.

If you're currently using a polyvinyl chloride, or a PVC shower curtain, swap it out for one that's reusable and recyclable. PVC can't be recycled, and it contains toxins that may release harmful gases into the air and groundwater. Try using a curtain made out of hemp, which is naturally resistant to mold and can be tossed in the washing machine from time to time to keep it in great shape for years.

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Lots of items used in the bathroom, including empty toilet paper rolls, shampoo bottles and wrappers, are recyclable. Enlist your child to help make a recycling bin for the bathroom to encourage everyone to recycle whatever they can. Your little one will feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility by taking part in this task.

Enjoy hot water during your shower or while washing up without using as much energy by investing in a tankless water heater, which uses 20 percent less energy than traditional models. If you can't swap it out right now, insulate it thoroughly and drop the temperature to 120 degrees. This seemingly minor step can have a major impact on the amount of energy that's needed to make water warm and comfortable. As an added bonus, reducing the thermostat to 120 degrees helps to keep your little ones safer while bathing.

Finally, research eco-friendly alternatives to personal care items like shampoo, soap and toothpaste. A variety of all-natural, organic personal care items are available, and they provide yet another way to reduce your family's impact on the environment.

4. Upgrade Your Lighting

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Sure, those multi-bulb vanity fixtures look fancy. Even if you swap out the incandescent or CFL bulbs for LEDs, though, you're using way more energy than you probably should. Consider swapping out the fixture for one that uses just one or two bulbs instead.

Speaking of eco-friendly lighting, replace your regular or CFL bulbs with LED bulbs. LEDs consume 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they last 25 times longer. They cost more upfront, but the return on your investment will be considerable.

People don't often realize it, but LEDs also generate a lot less heat. Therefore, they may help you use less air conditioning during the summer, which can help slash your energy bill even more.

Only use lights in the bathroom when absolutely necessary. Encourage kids to rely on natural lighting instead, and get them into the habit of turning off bathroom lights when they're done.

5. Ventilate Your Bathroom Properly

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Without properly ventilating your bathroom, odors, airborne irritants and moisture have nowhere to go. This can create an unhealthy environment for your family, so consider installing a vent fan in the bathroom. Ideally, it should run for at least 20 minutes after a shower, so look for one with an automatic timer.

Plants are excellent natural air purifiers, and they're pretty to look at too. Research the best air-purifying household plants. Spider plants are a prime example. They don't need direct sunlight, and they only require light and occasional watering. Enlist your child to help care for the plants, but hang them from the ceiling to keep them out of reach most of the time.

Maintain Your Green Oasis to Enjoy Ongoing Advantages

Implementing the tips above is merely the first step. Work continually to maintain an eco-friendly bathroom to ensure that you and your family keep enjoying the benefits for the long term. Engage in regular light maintenance, including cleaning, fixing leaks and unclogging drains, to keep your bathroom in tip-top shape. Go online with your child and research additional ways to make your bathroom as green as possible. With everyone in on the act, your bathroom will continue to be a true green oasis for a long time to come.

After experiencing the benefits of going green in the bathroom, you and your family will be enthusiastic about extending these practices to the rest of the home. Therefore, don't stop with the bathroom. Use it as a springboard for making the rest of your home as eco-friendly as possible.