Greening the bathroom
There are products and materials that can be used in the bathroom to make this room as green as the rest of your home.
And it's not just about the products you use. "Being eco-friendly can be how well you maintain things; if you maintain things better you don't need to replace them. You can buy a beautiful antique something at a thrift shop and plop a sink in it and you have a cabinet," said Leigh Spencer, LEED GA, co-owner of Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker in Marina del Rey, Calif.
"Reduce, reuse, recycle always characterizes it," Spencer said.
Kim Hibbs, owner of Hibbs Homes in St. Louis, Mo., said that several years ago, many clients weren't interested in eco-friendly products. "Now, we've done everything from very high-end homes to moderate rehabs, and it seems like everybody wants to at least consider those products right now and they want to learn more about them."
There are a range of things to consider in the bathroom, from the floors, to the walls, to the ceiling. One company even makes a rubber duck out of recycled materials, aptly named Mr. Green, who is billed as a "rubber ducky remix."
- Opt for wood from renewable resources, such as bamboo, or FSC-certified wood with no added formaldehyde.
- Finishes need to be low-VOC or water-based.
- Opt for low- or no-VOC paint on the walls.
- Consider a wood countertop if you're willing to do the maintenance to keep it clean and wipe up any water.
- Opt for a countertop that uses recycled materials such as glass or porcelain.
- Buy a fan large enough for the size of the room so that all moisture is removed from the air and doesn't eventually cause problems with the paint and cabinetry.
- Get a solar LED light for $2 and use it as a nightlight. It can be recharged at the window as needed.
- Choose energy-efficient lights such as LED task lights or florescent lights instead of traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Linoleum and marmoleum, a type of linoleum, are popular green options for natural flooring.
- Consider installing slate flooring with an environmentally friendly grout.
- Clean your shower stall and bathtub regularly so that there's no temptation to break out bleach when mildew builds up.
- Use products without bleach or ammonia.
- Buy a smaller-sized bathtub, or leave out the tub entirely.
- Install low-flow faucets and a low-flow showerhead.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth — don't let wasted water run down the drain.
- Install a device under your sink to use gray water from the sink to flush your toilet, such as the Aqus HMA7000.
Sources: Pablo Solomon, artist and designer; Leigh Spencer; Kim Hibbs
For more information, see our Going Green at Home Research Center.
Teena Hammond Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.