It is hard not to be moved when you see examples of the damage caused by plastic, for example, images of turtles with plastic straws stuck in their noses, or hear scientists describing the vast amount of plastic found in the stomachs of whales and other sea creatures,
However, we need to address environmental concerns on multiple fronts at the same time. Focusing purely on plastic neglects a number of other issues that need to be addressed. It’s not just energy supplies and plastics that are causing issues, it’s the overuse of everything, from water to fossil fuels, from packaging to fashion items.
Fortunately, all this attention is changing buying habits. According to a recent survey from Accenture, over 80% of people felt it was “important or extremely important” for companies to design environmentally conscious products.
Additionally, 72% of people reported actively buying more eco-friendly bathroom products than they did five years ago, while 81% said they expected to buy even more over the next five years.
Unfortunately, many of the systems we have in place were designed in times of plenty when environmentalism wasn’t as great a concern. For example, a single flush of a toilet can use up to six litres of water (older models using far more). Since on average we flush five times per day, that’s around 30 litres of water going down the drain.
Of course, it’s not just water that is wasted. Showers require heat and power, bathtubs are made from non-recyclable materials, and cleaning products can use harsh chemicals. So, what can you do to make your bathroom more eco-friendly while still keeping them clean and fresh?
1. Eco-friendly cleaning products
The bathroom is an area of the house most people want to be exceptionally clean. You want to feel clean coming out of the bath or shower and because of this most people opt for strong, intensive cleaning products.
Ammonia or bleach-based products have great antibacterial and antifungal properties, but they are particularly bad for the environment and can be toxic.
It is simple to make your own cleaners from natural products such as white vinegar and lemon. Not only does this combo cut through grease and oil very well, but it is also very gentle to the environment.
Alternatively, you could opt for an environmentally-friendly cleaning brand.
Seventh Generation offers eco-friendly cleaning products for the entire house and includes bathroom sprays. Their products are made from non-toxic, natural ingredients with essential oils providing fragrance.
A more widely available option is ECover. The company is B-Corp certified, demonstrating their commitment to social and environmental good. Their bathroom cleaner is particularly good if there is a build-up of bathroom scum or for people living in hard water areas. They use biodegradable packaging made from sugarcane – which is excellent news!
2. Low-flow fixtures
Back in the early days of environmentalism, people became more conscious of the water they were using. Supplies of freshwater that have not been polluted are drying up, so it’s a resource we need to protect. As such, people started turning off their taps when brushing their teeth and installing more water-efficient toilet flushes.
However, it’s now possible to take water-saving even further with low-flow fixtures in your bathroom. Highly-efficient showerheads, toilets and faucets all drastically reduce the amount of water being used without really affecting the quality of the shower/flush/flow.
One example you may be familiar with is the dual-flush toilet. These have two flush methods, helping to reduce the average water consumption per flush to four litres or less.
Another, more recent, example is the Nebia Spa Shower, which uses 10 precision nozzles to atomise the water. Not only does this leave you feeling just as clean as a regular shower, but it also saves up to 65% of the water!
3. Recapturing heat
These days, most of us enjoy the convenience of a power shower. There’s no need to pre-heat the water and there’s no running out after every couple of showers. But, if you have a smart meter installed, you’ll know how much energy power showers use ‒ they’re one of the biggest energy drains in the entire house!
Have you ever considered, however, that a lot of that heat energy is simply disappearing down the drain? In fact, in a power shower heated to 40 degrees Celsius, the water going down the drain is still around 38 degrees.
Zypho has created an innovative recovery/ recapture system that can be retrofitted into existing showers to recapture that heat. All that 38-degree water is used to pre-heat the fresh mains water going up to the shower, helping to save up to 67% of the energy cost of heating a shower. It’s a very simple yet effective way to recapture energy!
4. Recyclable bathroom fixtures
Recycling tends to be associated with disposable consumer products and packaging. After all, this is where much of the visible waste comes from. Yet, your bathroom contains some of the largest items in your entire house and most are non-recyclable.
Take bathtubs, for example. Most are made of fibreglass or acrylic ‒ two materials that are difficult to recycle. A main reason for this is their durability and longevity, which is a good eco-credential to have.
However, a German company called KALDEWEI has created bathtubs made from steel enamel. Every tub comes with 30-year guarantee, giving it the same longevity as traditional bathtub materials. However, instead of ending up in a landfill at the end of their lifespan, these steel bathtubs can be completely recycled, along with all of its steel fittings.
Another material to consider is wallcovering particularly tiles which are commonly used in bathrooms.
Most tiles, however, are created from virgin materials, using vast amounts of natural resources. Bedrock Industries (no connection to the Flintstones), creates bathroom tiles from recycled content. So you get something stylish and other materials are saved from going to landfill.
It has never been easier that it is today to make change and create a more environmentally friendly bathroom. We’ve shared some ideas and if you have others that we’ve missed why not let us know by posting a comment?