Bathrooms, although generally petite in stature, can have a surprisingly big impact on a person’s overall carbon footprint. With their plentiful modern conveniences and their ability to inspire an entire sub genre of comedy (oh potty humor, how you have gotten me through some hard times), bathrooms are a busy and important space in today’s home. Some estimates put the average American’s daily bathroom time at about half an hour a day. Over a life time these thirty minute intervals really start to add up, and with those minutes, gallons of water, fossil fuels used and harmful chemicals released tend to increase too.

Luckily for clever and adorable green-minded folks such as yourselves, the strain of your passion for showering, your talent for flossing, and need to powder your nose needn’t be sacrificed in the name of saving Mother Earth. A few simple steps can leave your bathroom and your life a little bit greener.

Decoration: Being considerate of the planet does not mean one has to sacrifice style. When decorating your Loo, make smart decisions, keeping in mind where the materials you are using come from.

  • Choose non-toxic paint for your walls, the lower in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) the better!
  • When selecting linens, buy organic. Think organic cotton, bamboo or hemp for towels, face clothes, etc.
  • Avoid PVC in shower curtains, as it is unhealthy for both you and the environment. Again, you are looking for organic materials.

Cleaning: Step away foaming spray. I know, I know, old habits die hard and that handsome bald man in the ad campaign has such nice rippling biceps, but trust me, your wallet, your scrubbing arm, and the earth will thank you after you shelf that aluminum can of chemicals permanently.

  • *Make your own! Your new magic solution is comprised of two simple products you likely have in your kitchen cabinets at this very moment, vinegar and baking soda! This mixture has changed the way I scrub a porcelain fixture! Some people recommend a spray bottle to act as a beaker/ dispenser for your supernatural bathroom cleaner , but I personally do not bother with this step, possibly out of laziness, and definitely out of my inability to remember to purchase one. I simply sprinkle a bit of the powder onto the surface I am about to obliterate icky bathroom scum from, then dribble some white vinegar on top of the powder, as I watch in amazement as it hisses, fizzes and froths like an award-winning entry in a grade school science fair. Then I  proceed to scrub the surface with my preferred scrubbing device – a tub brush or a scrubbing sponge, depending on the job.

Water: Water usage is where a bathrooms carbon foot print begins to reach Sasquatch-like proportions. With some simple and affordable steps, you can shrink that imprint right on down to size.

  • Be mindful of time: Turn off the sink as you brush your pearly whites and shave a couple of minutes off your shower time. If you are really ambitious, brush your teeth in the shower, be an all star multi-tasker of water conservation.
  • Flushing: Some of the most dedicated among us may be able to abide by the old adage of letting “yellow mellow”, but for those among us who prefer not to skimp on our flushes, we can still do something to cut down on the gallons of water wasted with each and every flush. By inserting a half gallon container filled with water or sand (to weigh it down) in your toilet’s water tank, you can cheaply adapt your current toilet into an efficient lower flow version!

Other Bathroom Notes:

  • Toilet paper: Use toilet paper made from recycled paper. Avoid papers that are bleached.
  • Soap: Try to use the biodegradable options. Also, look for the most natural ingredients with the least amount of packaging.
  • Towel Racks: If you don’t have one already, a towel rack is a solid investment. Hang your used towels up to dry after you shower. Reuse it instead of laundering after every single usage. Throw it into the wash every few uses, or at your own discretion.
  • Finish what you’ve started! Use all of your products to completion. Remember to squeeze that tooth paste from the bottom!

Greening your bathroom does not have to be expensive or overwhelming experience. Taking any combination of these steps makes a positive difference in the negative impact your home can make on the environment. With a little help, your toilet, sink and tub can be transformed into environmental warriors, just like you!