I saw an article on this very idea on several different websites and thought maybe I could bring it to my own readers, with a few ideas of my own thrown in. There are all sorts of ways to be more green at home and the bathroom is one of the easiest areas to make improvements on. There are many opportunities for waste and also many ideas for conserving that waste. Most of the ideas I have are inexpensive and easy. All of them require a one time simple step or an easy to adapt habit or routine.
Now, remember that green doesn’t just apply to safety items or eco friendly stuff, it also talks to the pocketbook. When you stop wasting stuff, which is ultimately great for the planet, it will also save you lots of money. Imagine smaller utility bills, less shopping for new items and less garbage carried out. As you can already see, it translates into less work for you, too. So what are you waiting for? Dig in and find out what great things you can start doing tomorrow to save money and the earth at the same time!
Start by buying and installing low flow showerheads. This cuts back hugely on your use of water and will save you lots of money. Then you will also need a low flow faucet aerator and a dual flush toilet, both of which will save you thousands of gallons of water every single year. You can buy these items at various hardware and big box home stores, comparison shop, of course, for the best price and then DIY. They come with installation instructions that are easy to follow.
Of course, if you really want go for the big bucks up front and the big savings for years and years to come, get your home a water free toilet or what has been called “the composting” toilet. But with these little gems, you may need some hired help. All of these ideas will conserve water, a badly needed resource that is running out worldwide, and save you a loot of money as well.
If you are not wanting to change out your toilet completely because that is a lot of money and a big job, to boot, then consider getting a retrofit kit to make your current toilet a dual flush.
Another saver is a showerhead with settings for low, high, on and off. This way, you can turn off the flow while you soap up and turn it on to rinse off. Going from low when you rinse your body to high so you can rinse your hair is a great advantage that allows control over your water use.
Remember to turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Moisten the brush and then shut off the flow. This, alone, saves lots and lots of water if everyone in your family brushes twice a day.
And lastly, learn to use your bathroom sink as a washer for small items as well as delicates. If you hand wash a small load every once in awhile and then hang the items out to dry, you not only save a ton on soap and hot water but also on the dryer, which is the second largest consumer of wattage other than your air conditioner.
SWITCH TO RECYCLED
First and foremost, start buying recycled toilet paper. It just doesn’t make sense to keep buying virgin trees for a task that is done so many times a day by everyone in your family! Recycled paper just doesn’t cost much more and it makes good sense.
And, then, toilet paper should be the ONLY paper item in the potty. No paper towels, styrofoam or paper cups, etc.. and no “one time use” items at all. This is another green idea that will also save you a bundle. Stop wiping the mirrors with paper towels and switch to washable cotton rags or old torn washcloths. You can even wash the rags in a bucket full of rainwater if you feel bad about using the washing machine.
Buy regular cups for everyone to use rather than paper cups. Again, you can just wash these out and each person can be assigned their own to stop the spread of germs.
Buy liquid hand soaps in refillable plastic containers and buy Softsoap(TM) refill liquid in bulk.
To save money on toothpaste, you can switch the baking soda and peroxide, which will keep your teeth clean and whiten them too. There is far less waste to toss out with these items and most of it is recyclable or reusable. Baking soda and peroxide are both dirt cheap, too, and have a lot more to the container for your use than traditional toothpaste tubes.
Buy natural glycerin soaps, which are cheaper and safer, to reduce the amount of chemical debris that washes out with your water. When the bars get small you can melt them together in a warm pot and then pour the liquid into molds for reuse after they harden. Boy this can save you a lot of money and a lot of garbage, to boot. To save even more, refer to my posts on homemade soap making for how to make your own from simple ingredients and no chemicals like lye.
CLEAN IT WITH GREEN
There is nothing worse than a bleach smell in a stifling small bathroom! Have you ever been trapped using a toilet in a recently scrubbed bathroom and felt like you couldn’t breathe? Ouch. Make the switch and see the difference, both in the air and in the pocketbook! Wash the mirrors and counter tops with vinegar. Vinegar also works really well on tile floors. If you dislike the smell of vinegar, even heavily diluted, then use lemon juice instead. Just fill a spray bottle half way with water and then dump in a cup or two of lemon juice. It will cut just about anything and leave the surface “squeaky” clean!
On mold or urine stained surfaces, use the vinegar for sure. Vinegar is rich in acetic acid and it will neutralize ammonia in a flash. I use a spray of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water to knock out the urine smell in my bathroom and where ever my cats do a nasty. It smells like salad for a few hours and then, presto! The smell is all gone. It’s really good. Try it. Using it on mold is a bit trickier. I suggest heating the vinegar to almost boiling before putting it in the sprayer and then loading it on and leaving it. This should be white vinegar and not wine or malted vinegar. You may have to do it twice. But soon, the mold fades.
Where you need grit to clean a surface, such as in the bathtub or sink, you can use baking soda and glycerin soap. You can make a homemade liquid glycerin soap or buy it in the store ready made. Mix it with a little water, just so it’s not too thick, and squirt it on the surface. Dust it with baking soda and start scrubbing. You will be amazed at the results and I promise you that you will be weaned off of bleach and chemical laden scrubs immediately! It will smell clean, look clean and be safe, above all else. Safe for you and for your family and for the planet, too.
And I know you’re wondering about antibacterial and disinfectant cleaners. How on earth can you stop using these items? They are a scourge to the environment and they reduce our ability to handle disease but we don’t feel clean without them. But there are natural alternatives that are not only disinfectant but also sufficiently antibacterial to be useful in this manner and not at all destructive to the environment or dangerous to your body. Make one at home with regular rubbing alcohol. Get two quarts of tepid (lukewarm) water and add 6 drops of essential oil of lemon, 6 drops of tea tree oil and 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol. Shake it up before use. Add a small amount of this mix to baking soda for a disinfectant scrub for germy surfaces or to a liquid soap mix to scrub out the potty and kills germs. Again, the volume of use you get stretches out even the smallest bottles you can buy, saving you a ton of money. Think of how many plastic bottles you are saving from the landfill and how many dangerous chemicals and dyes are no longer rushing into the water supply.
GREEN YOUR PERSONAL CARE ITEMS
You can buy “green” cosmetics and soaps all over the place if you want to. If you are handy and want to save even more, as well as keep a lot of packaging out of the landfill, you can make your own. I have to refer you now to my previous posts on making natural cosmetics and personal care products. Herb recipes for natural soaps, lotions, cleansers, shampoos and perfumes will save you a bundle of money and keep a lot of packaging out of the landfill. This in addition to lowering your exposure to chemicals, hormones, additives and dyes. It just makes sense to make your own.
BUY GREENER TOWELS AND LINENS
I know you don’t throw away towels and linens everyday and their mere existance does not seem to affect the planet. But conventional cotton is heavily poisoned with chemicals and is made from cotton plants that are doused heavily with pesticides. It is ok and probably wise to use the ones you have until they are so torn and worn that they must be made into rags. And then do make them into rags and replace all that paper with them. But when you go to buy new, please consider the safer, greener ones made from organic cotton and natural bamboo. If we can cause the switch with our purchasing power, we can change a lot of our environment and the safety of our own health in the process.
Cotton is really a devil these days, with 2 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers and 84 million pounds of pesticides used each year in the growing process. This exposure causes a lot of environmental health problems for those who apply the pesticides and harvest the crop. And this is not to mention the damage done to soil, irrigation, and groundwater systems. We need to change our methods of growing items for our use in order to save our own species as well as the planet. Too many people die of cancer, exposure and poisoning by chemicals every year. Bamboo, in addition to being a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, is also reputed to have antibacterial qualities when spun into linens.
And all of this extends as well to your shower curtain, too. If you use one, you are probably using a cheap one made of PVC plastic and this is really nasty petroleum based product that creates toxins. This plastic releases chemical gases and odors on a regular basis. If you walk into your bathroom and smell the plastic shower curtain, you are probably ingesting dioxins, a group of highly toxic compounds. This is not recycleable and ends up in the landfill for years and perhaps hundreds of them. They also end up in your lungs, where they promote cancer and other breathing disorders.
As if this isn’t enough, I must also mention that PVC is known to leach chemicals that can eventually make their way back into our water system. So,what should you do? Everywhere you look, even nice stores like Ikea, there are plastic shower curtains. You assume this is because plastic is water resistant but if you think about it, it doesn’t make sense, because they are not mold resistant or well ventilated. The best alternative is a natural shower curtain, made from a safe material like hemp, which is naturally resistant to mold or bamboo, which is non toxic and resiliant.
And then, of course, is the tenacity to stick with these new “greener” ways of living. In a pinch, it is always easy to snap up a chemical laden toxic product from the grocery shelf on your way out to the next big event, but you can avoid this if you just think about it. Buy all of the stuff you need in one trip, when you have the time to sort it out. Then put it all together at home. When you see how long this stuff lasts and how much nicer life is with the new lineup, it will be no problem to repeat the process every once in awhile. And when you realize how much money you’ve saved in the meantime, using the natural stuff for so long and with no extra effort, I predict you will have no more problems making the switch. It will just be your way of life.