You spend hours in the bathroom. Aside from the kitchen, no room in your house will produce more waste than the throne room. But just because it is an energy and resource hog doesn’t mean we can’t make simple yet effective changes to make it a more eco-friendly and sustainable bathroom haven.
A caveat: this list is far from exhaustive. I considered so many bathroom product ideas before settling on this list. Many people have the idea that turning their home into a more earth-friendly version is costly. Further, I hear moans already that the eco products will somehow result in more work and money. In all of the cases below that couldn’t be further from the truth. Use this list as a starting point — one that is both easy to follow yet extremely impacting. In now way do you need to sacrifice on aesthetics or usefulness with these products.
I listed some of the products we use at our house. I’ll add that when we do need to order from Amazon or another online retailer, we try to order many products in one single shipment. While not ideal, there are many offsets that can be done anytime you purchase online for shipping — but more on that in another article. It’s always best to buy locally when possible and with as little packaging, especially plastic, as necessary. If you are in an area without much access to sustainable products, consider these. Now, on with the list.
Ideas For a Sustainable Bathroom Upgrade
Tip #1: Upgrade to an Efficient Hot Water Heater
This is the big one. Your hot water heater is one of the biggest culprits unless you already have opted for an energy-efficient model. This tip is the only costly one on the list but cannot be avoided. As energy prices soar, it will only become more important to opt for greener options when it comes to your hot water heater, furnace, air conditioning (if you have one), and other major appliances.
The amount of energy it takes to heat your water and then keep it heated for on-demand use is extraordinary. There are many guides to discuss the different types of heaters, the costs, energy requirements, and potential savings. You will want to decide which of these types is best for you:
- tankless and on-demand
- tankless coil and indirect
- heat pump
For most families who want to “go greener”, there will be a balance between cost and energy efficiency. Just remember that the ones that cost more up front and are energy efficient, will save over the long-run. And with energy costs on the rise, that savings could be pretty significant down the road.
Tip #2: Ditch the Body Wash For Sustainable Soap Bars
Using natural products for cleaning your body and in household cleaners is pivotal to making a positive impact. Your skin is your biggest organ, so what you put on it every day is essential to good health. Have you ever considered the chemicals included in most body washes? If so, likely you will know where I’m going with this. If not, let’s just say you have some homework. I would bet if you went and checked the ingredient list on your body wash you will find things like “sodium lauryl sulfate”. The studies linking sodium lauryl sulfate and negative health effects are countless.
But it doesn’t stop there. Having looked at the list of ingredients, our family made the conscious decision to ditch the body wash. We now opt for handmade soap with natural ingredients and scented with essential oils. Not only do these soaps have ingredients that are far healthier for our skin, but they do not have plastic packaging. I don’t need to tell you why plastic is bad, surely. Eliminating harmful chemicals on the skin and keeping plastic out of our home was an easy decision.
One note to remember about buying natural soaps and shampoo bars: opt for “certified sustainable palm oil”. If it lists palm oil as an ingredient without being “certified sustainable”, you could inadvertently be contributing to a separate issue. Here is the one I like:
Tip #3: Say “No” to Unsustainable Toilet Paper
I get it — going “cottony soft” with 3-ply paper that feels like towels is quite luxurious. But I wonder at what cost? I recall a major issue (to me) in the early 2000s with Kimberly-Clark, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of household products. At the heart of it was their clearcutting ancient rainforests in British Columbia to be used for toilet paper. Literally, we were wiping the excrement off ourselves with ancient trees. Sorry for the visual.
Thankfully, through tireless activism, they stopped clearcutting Canadian boreal forest and opted for better alternatives.
But how much better is what we have now? When possible, opting for products that use recycles fibers is a start. And just in case you were wondering, it isn’t recycled toilet paper fibers that they use. While perhaps not as ideal as a bidet, for instance, it would be a good start. Ditch the toilet paper that feels like a soft cashmere sweater for one that is still soft and gets the job done. I’ll include the the bidet my parents easily installed below if you’re interested. It has over 15,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.6.
Tip #4: Plastic Toothbrushes? No, Thanks!
One change our family made last year was to use more bamboo in the washroom. The first was to swap to a bamboo toothbrush. Honestly, they work just the same as a plastic one. They last as long, hold up well to water, and even come with coloured rings so we don’t get confused over which brush is ours.
1,000,000,000 — yes, one billion — toothbrushes will be used this year in the United States. And of them, a tiny fraction are not plastic. National Geographic has a great report on how plastic toothbrushes is a problem that needs to be addressed. This is a swap you should all make ASAP. The option posted below will certainly save you money, but again, if you find it locally, that’s great too.
In keeping with the bamboo theme, we also swapped our soap holders and toothbrush holders for bamboo. It’s aesthetically pleasing, wasn’t expensive, and cleans very easily.
Tip #5: Water Conservation is a Big Win
We already discussed the hot water, but what about how much water we’re using? There are many products on the market that can help you reduce the amount of water your family is using. In the bathroom, there are three suggestions I’d recommend you start with. First, showers instead of baths, provided the shower is not more than 10 minutes long, will save a lot of water (and money!). Placing a filled water bottle in the back of the toilet bowl is one idea you’ve likely heard of below. For however much water is in your bottle, that is how much you are saving at every flush! Finally, installing a low-flow shower head and faucets are another great way to reduce water consumption.
I hope you see this list as a starting point to make some changes in your bathroom. If you have any comments or questions about the products I use, please leave them below.
Photo by Tina Witherspoon on Unsplash