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Choosing to decorate with non-toxic paints and switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs are definitely steps to take in the green-living decor direction. But when it comes to your bathroom, the small space, minimal air circulation, and excessive heat and steam add up to a hotbed of bacteria and toxic fumes, making further action a necessity for both your health and the planet. Shelagh McNally, environmental journalist and Editor of Green Living Online, outlines some simple and inexpensive changes you can make to turn your bathroom into a green oasis.
Toss your Plastic Shower Curtain
Your vinyl shower curtain contains Bisphenol A (BPA), the plastic-bottle-ingredient that has been all over the news and pulled from shelves everywhere. Because the shower curtain is exposed to hot water and heat in a small, enclosed space, it gives off fumes for most of its life. Switch to a cloth curtain or a bamboo version: it’s water- and mold-resistant and easy to wash.
Change your Cleaning Products
Some of the most toxic chemicals in your house are found in cleaning products, particularly those that are used to clean bathroom tiles. Make your own cleaning products with baking soda and vinegar combinations, or look for a store-bought line that’s chemical-free.
Check your Soap
If you prefer to use anti-bacterial soap in your bathroom, read the label before you buy. In addition to sometimes killing our body’s good bacteria, typical anti-bacterial products contain triclosan, a harsh chemical that can combine with tap water to create a small amount of chloroform gas, a carcinogen. Look for tea tree oil or neem oil instead, both natural anti-bacterial ingredients.
Switch your Shower head
Change your regular shower head to a low flow variety. It can reduce the amount of water used by 50 per cent and the newest versions won’t affect your water pressure.
Fix your Toilet
If you’re renovating your bathroom, or if you’ve got the money and time to invest in installing a new bowl, choose a toilet with dual flush capabilities. You’ll have the option of flushing with 1L of water and 3L of water at the touch of a button. Compare that to the average 6-11L used per flush on a regular toilet bowl. If you can’t afford to replace your toilet, pick up a water displacement kit from your local hardware store or fill a plastic zippered freezer bag with water and drop it in your toilet tank.
Make Sure There Are No Leaks
A dripping tap or leaking toilet can add $20-$25 each month to your water bill. Fix them immediately. To see if your toilet’s leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and see if it ends up in the bowl without flushing.
Change your Candles
If you can’t resist a candle-lined bath at the end of the night (you know showering saves water, right?), then ditch the paraffin. Your wide-open pores in the small vicinity with few windows make chemical-laden candle burning a no-no in the bathroom. Choose naturally based candle types such as soy and beeswax.