Simple choices and easy tips to make your bathroom the greenest room in the house.

When it comes to making our homes greener, it’s very easy to concentrate time and effort on rooms where we spend a lot of time. The lounge for example, is where the family hangs out, while the kitchen – a very obvious energy drain thanks to all the appliances contained within – is often the central gathering point in a house. The humble bathroom, meanwhile, is more of a straightforward utilitarian space, so it’s no surprise it often gets overlooked.

But when you think about it it’s one of the most energy-hungry rooms in the house thanks to all the hot water it produces, and it’s a hotbed of potential chemicals too, in the form of cleaning products and cosmetics. Its green credentials are probably less than stellar but that’s okay, because it’s also one of the easiest places in the house where simple actions will make a big difference. Check out these easy tips.

  1. Reduce your water consumption

Did you know the average family emits the equivalent of two transatlantic flights in carbon through their hot water consumption each year? And energy consumption aside, the simple amount of water we use (regardless of its temperature) is pretty shocking, too – each of us uses an average of 143 litres a day. There are loads of no fuss, low effort ways to make a big dent in that, from installing water saving gadgets to spending five minutes fixing a leaky tap. Read our really easy guide to saving water here.

  1. Draught-proof your pipes and windows

Bathrooms – particularly in older homes – are just as susceptible to draughts and chills as other rooms in your house. The difference is, if you’re padding around in pyjamas or getting naked in the shower you probably won’t be too keen on putting an extra jumper on, so instead you’ll crank up the heating or hike up the hot water in the tub, which is just a waste of energy. Fit a moisture-resistant black out blind and spend some time sussing out draughty patches in your bathroom, then deal with them. Our DIY guide here explains how.

  1. Clean green

There’s no end of cleaning products on the market, all professing to do away with grease and grime with minimal effort. The problem is, a lot of them are packed full of chemical nasties which have a big impact on the planet, not to mention potential health implications. Instead, use an eco-brand or alternatively, whip up your own homemade cleaning materials using everyday products you have at home – they’re just as effective and much better for the environment. Learn more about making your own green cleaning products here.

  1. Give your beauty routine a green makeover

Everyone wants to look their best, but our constant pursuit of smooth skin, shiny hair and the latest on-trend makeup looks can have a seriously ugly impact on the environment. It’s time to say goodbye to excessive product packaging, chemical-laden lotions and disposable face wipes and find a beauty regime that doesn’t cost the Earth. Here are five ways to get started.

  1. Ditch the air fresheners

Bathrooms are a hotbed for cleaning – you clean the bath, your body and after someone’s spent 20 minutes on the toilet, you’ll want to clean the air, too! Traditional air fresheners are packed full of artificial chemicals and decidedly un-green ingredients, plus their aerosol packaging leaves a lot to be desired from an environmental standpoint, too. Instead, opt for organic potpourri, natural reed fragrance diffusers or – if you prefer the idea of taking decisive action against the offending odour – make your own natural air freshening spritz. Here are some great recipes that use essential oils for rich, long-lasting fragrance.

  1. Get a plant

It’s no secret that houseplants are great indoor air cleaners, but some of them are more effective than others when it comes to filtering out pollutants and toxic chemicals. NASA’s Clean Air Study identified a number of plants that are particularly good at removing benzene, formaldehyde, and others, including many that thrive in humid environments, such as ferns, spider plants and English ivy. This handy infographic has more details.

  1. Don’t forget to recycle

Most of us will keep our recycling bins and boxes in the kitchen, so it’s easy for toilet roll tubes, empty shampoo bottles and used toothbrushes to just end up in the bin – but this is all recyclable stuff, too! Consider putting a small, bin in the bathroom specifically for recyclable materials. That way you’ll have a handy way to dispose of empties.

  1. Choose sustainable towels

Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-intensive, pesticide-laden crops on the planet and ideally should be avoided wherever possible. As such, choose towels made from organic cotton instead, which is farmed safely and sustainably. Alternatively, go for bamboo – it’s fast becoming a popular and sustainable choice instead of cotton, and reportedly boasts some antibacterial properties when it’s spun into linen.

  1. Shower with a safer curtain

A lot of cheap, mass-produced shower curtains are made from polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. This is pretty nasty stuff, creating dioxins during its production and slowly releasing chemical gases and odours throughout its lifespan. And it can’t be recycled, either. Instead, choose PVC-free plastic shower curtains – they’re widely available from most homeware stores. Better yet, install a shower screen if logistically feasible – these will last longer, they’re easier to clean, and they can be recycled.

The bottom line

The bathroom is probably the most overlooked room in the house when it comes to green endeavours, and yet it’s responsible for more than its fair share of environmental misdemeanours. But by making smarter, healthier choices and picking up some better habits it’s easy to wash away those green sins, and start again with a squeaky-clean slate.

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