Give your bathroom a green makeover

by Tracy Stokes on June 27, 2007

in EcoHouse

showerhead1 Give your bathroom a green makeover
Whether you are planning a complete bathroom overhaul, or just want to make a few inexpensive changes, we can help you make your bathroom an altogether more eco-friendly place.

The little things

The smallest and most inexpensive changes that you can make to improve your bathroom’s green factor is to change the way that you clean yourself. Source and buy natural and organic soaps, shampoos and shower gels. Even the supermarkets are stocking some of these products now, but there are much bigger ranges available from health food shops and online (visit the EcoStreet directory for plenty of options). By using more natural toiletries you are not only ensuring that you aren’t absorbing as many dubious chemicals into your body, but you are also not pouring these chemicals down the plughole and allowing them to end up in our water table.

Secondly, it’s very simple and easy to change the way that you clean your bathroom. Ecover and other eco-friendly cleaning products are available in most supermarkets these days, as well as in health food shops and online (again, you will find lots of options listed at the EcoStreet directory). Many people report a decrease in allergies when switching to eco-friendly cleaning products. To save money and packaging, you can take this a step further and make your own simple cleaning products, or even try microfibre clothes that only need water to do the same cleaning jobs.

Switching to recycled toilet paper doesn’t take much effort. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco have their own brands of recycled toilet paper, and Nouvelle is widely available too. Referring to yesterday’s blog post, Sainsbury’s have launched a new range of FSC-approved toilet paper.

Saving Water

The bathroom is the place where we use the most water in the home. There are some little tricks that we can use to save water, and some helpful gadgets to help us take that saving further.

Save water by switching off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, keep showers short, and switch off the shower while you are lathering up. Another idea is to put a bucket or two in the shower with you to catch water, then use this water to water plants.

Put a Hippo or Save-a-flush bag in your toilet cistern to save water every time you flush. You can get these for free from most water companies. Or try the InterFlush which saves up to half of the water per flush. The kit fits into your toilet cistern and once fitted means that the toilet will only flush for as long as you hold the handle down.

Tapmagic provides easy to install tap inserts for a very reasonable price. The insert changes the water flow from the tap into a spray for uses such as brushing teeth or washing hands by just opening the tap a little bit. You can override the spray function if you want to fill up the basin fast by simply turning the tap on hard.

Install a water-saving shower head to save even more water while you are having a shower.

Starting from scratch

If you’re ripping it all out and starting over in your bathroom, there are lots of factors to bear in mind. First and foremost consider reusing or recycling what you are taking out of your bathroom. Freecycle is a good option if you don’t want your old bath and basin.

It is possible to install a composting toilet indoors, or if you want a more conventional loo, install an ultra-efficient dual flush toilet, making sure the one you buy is certified by your local water board.

Replace old taps with aerating or spray taps to save water, and make sure that your shower head is the same. Remember that power-showers are the enemy if you are creating an eco-friendly bathroom. If you must have a bath, go for a bath with a smaller capacity.

Consider installing a retractable clothesline across the bath, so that you have somewhere to hang wet washing when the weather isn’t great.

Low energy lights are a must for an eco-friendly home, as well as a low energy extractor fan if you need one in the bathroom.

Finishing touches

Reclaimed timber flooring or rubber flooring are both good environmental choices for bathrooms. To find reclaimed flooring, try a local architectural salvage yard or SALVO online.

Tiles made of recycled glass are still hard to find, but are becoming more popular. Urbane Living sells a range of 100% recycled glass tiles from eluna.

Use a natural paint that is water resistant. Natural Deco offer a range that can be used in the bathroom.

If you want someone else to do it all for you, Nonsense Design offer eco-friendly bathroom design.

Life’s little luxuries

When buying bath towels, go for Fairtrade, organic cotton or bamboo.

This all natural laundry basket from Nigel’s EcoStore can be composted when it reaches the end of its working life.

Buy natural bristle brushes and wash-bags from The Green Shop.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

vanessa cooper June 28, 2007 at 9:14 am

we stock earthBorn natural claypaints & proAqua eggshell paints which are great for bathooms as they allow surfaces to breathe as well as absorbing variations in humidity. We also stock a white swedish floor soap to whiten pine flooring which is great for bathrooms.

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Tracy June 28, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Thanks for letting us know about those paints Vanessa, and about the white Swedish floor soap, it sounds brilliant. I had never heard of it before.

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Nikki June 28, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Great information, Tracy. This will come in handy when I move into my new house – which needs a complete refurb! How about some posts on greening a kitchen and other rooms too :-)

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Anna Hackman June 28, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Hi Tracy. Good article. I would just like to add one thing to your list. An exhaust fan to reduce moisture in the bathroom so that you do not get mold. Mold causes a lot of health problems.

I have a broan automatic sensing fan that goes on when it senses moisture. Pansonic makes one too. Some are quiet. Just make sure if you get an automatic one that no one turns the switch off. Otherwise, it will not work.

If I remember correctly, Energy Star in the US gives rebates in new construction for ones with timers because of the switch issue (people forgetting to keep the switch on the on position.) People should check their local, state, county, etc goverments to see if they can get rebates for exhaust fans as well as what kind.

Also, put a motion sensor on your light so if you forget to turn off the light, it goes off for you. However, if you are on the toliet for awhile, it may not sense you and turn off the lights! Check to see if there are sensor with body heat sensing. anna http://www.green-talk.com

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Rachel - Staged Makeovers September 28, 2007 at 6:49 pm

There are tons of great tips in this article. Thanks so much for sharing. I know they will come in handy in the near future when I remodel my bathroom (a work in progress). Please check out my blog for other bathroom makeover tips http://www.mystagedlife.com

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james webber April 14, 2008 at 11:30 am

Rubber flooring from start to finish, the Rubber Floor Store is dedicated to bringing you high quality, beautiful rubber flooring solutions. You’ll love finding the one that’s right for you, you’ll love the easy installation, and you’ll love to way they look.

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Chris Chambers February 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Great info Tracy. Dual flush toilets save you money by reducing your water and sewer costs. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person flushes the toilet nearly 140,000 times. This wastes a significant amount water. We are slowly adopting the dual flush toilet in the US other countries such Europe, Australia, China have been using dual flush toilets for years.

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Pedro Joaquin Sanchez Belmar July 31, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Navigating the maze of marketing materials for the greener of new-build homes can be quite a bewildering business. Code for Sustainable Homes level this? Code for Sustainable Homes level that? Eco Homes Excellent? Or Very Good? For the average homebuyer who fancies himself or herself as an environmentalist, it can be hard to know exactly what it all means.
A growing number of buyers have decided that the best approach to going green is to give draughty and badly insulated older houses a makeover, rather than to buy new ones. They are discovering that excellent results can be achieved — and often for modest sums.
Sarah Harrison, an environmental consultant, bought an unmodernised Victorian semi in 2000 in a conservation area in Camden, North London, intent on testing how such a home could be improved. In six months, she lined the walls with wool fibre, installed a wood-burning stove, state-of-the-art double-glazing, a rainwater-harvesting system and solar panels. Household carbon emissions have been cut by 70 per cent, and water consumption by 30 per cent. Harrison says: “We turned off the heating in March and we have only needed to turn it on twice, for an hour each time, since.”
Pedro Joaquin Sanchez Belmar

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