Bathroom Tips For The Green Homeowner

Our homes say a lot about us as individuals. From the neighbourhoods we live in to the colours of our walls and the things we choose to display in our windows, much of what we value can be read by our neighbours, friends and anyone else who passes through the domestic sphere. On some level, the way people approach solutions to environmental problems is part of this performance: if people don’t think a little less of you when you send your rubbish straight to the landfill, they will at least consider you that little bit less world conscious or maybe a little more selfish.

Going green isn’t all keeping up with the Jones though. A less is more attitude will often save you money too, which is something that few will scoff at. So if you’re the environmentally conscious type, what could you be doing that you’re not already?

One of the places we often forget to be environmentally concerned in is the bathroom. After all, we head to the toilet to conduct business we don’t like to think too much about! So what could we do to help the environment when in the bathroom?

Water, Water Everywhere: But Doesn’t It Make You Think?

Western homeowners often have a rather blasé attitude to water usage. Running water is taken for granted, so much so, that hose-pipe bans and other restrictions seem random restrictions by over-bearing governments. We also think of water as ‘just water’: it falls freely from the sky, so why is there anything to worry about environmentally?

Of course, things aren’t anything like that simple. Water has to treated in large, power hungry facilities, pumped along taps, heated by gas and electric boilers. It therefore makes sense that you should take steps to use less water!

  • It’s easy to use less water for your baths and in the sink. You don’t need such a deep bath of water, and you could

    turn the tap off whilst you brush your teeth. Switch the shower off when soaping up and you could save a gallon or two!

  • Dual flush toilets are becoming a household standard, and with good reason. There’s no longer any need to sluice five gallons round the U-Bend every time you take a quick stop. Make sure you use the larger button only as a last resort!
  • As the old saying goes “If it’s mellow, let it yellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”. Flushing only on every second trip is a step in the right direction, but when you’re living or working with others, it often seems like the height of laziness and rudeness. It’s best to keep this strategy to households where everyone agrees!
  • In the UK, it’s actually illegal to have a shower head that empties more than two and a half gallons a minute. A good low-flow shower-head will give you better coverage, with only around a gallon lost a minute.

Cleaning Your Bathroom

After the kitchen, the bathroom can be the most unpleasant, unclean place. When your bathroom cabinets are encased in miscellaneous gunge, it’s a natural reflex to reach for whatever cleaning product will annihilate every spot of dirt with a six mile radius. But such products can be extremely environmentally costly. Firstly in manufacture – harmful byproducts can be created. And secondly in their effects when entering the water cycle. After all, we wash chemicals down the sinkhole and even though water reclamation works to an extent, it cannot fully remove harmful chemicals.

  • People often find it hard to believe there was a time before cleaning chemicals. Well there was, and people did fine without strong bleaches!
  • Old favourites include bicarbonate of soda, soda crystals and vinegar. Want a lemony fresh bathroom? Why not just use lemons!

Cleaning Yourself

Toilet paper has become firmly entrenched in our culture as the way to clean up after a toilet stop, and try as we might to change attitudes, this is unlikely to change. So since we’re wasting all those trees as a matter of social necessity, let’s at least be responsible about it.

  • Buy 100% Recycled Toiler papers when you can. They shouldn’t be too much more expensive.
  • At the very least, you should be looking for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo on your paper: this comes from accredited, ‘managed’ forests that are sustainable and capable of being regenerated.
  • The ultimate answer to toilet paper usage is to find a different way of cleaning your bum. This is where the bidet comes in: whilst somewhat unfashionable, they can clean up without you having to use paper.
  • Attitudes to the bidet are ultimately holding toilet science back by about four decades: Those fancy Japanese toilets everyone laughs about? You know you want one really. With spray nozzles and dryers, you’d only be keeping the toilet paper around for guests and the occasional polish!

Steph Wood is a copywriter-blogger with a green attitude. Currently working for Splash Bathrooms, a UK-based site for Bathroom Accessories, they’re currently in a flap over a house guest who won’t recycle!

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