Nine ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly

It might be the smallest room in the house but our bathrooms often have the biggest environmental impact.

What can we each do to help turn this situation around? Here are nine easy ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly:

1.      Save water

The planet’s water supply is unpredictable and far more precious than we might think. Climate change means that there will be an increasing number of water shortages around the world, while the energy used to treat and pump water our homes – and heat it once it’s there – produces harmful carbon emissions.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the greatest opportunities for saving water can be found in the bathroom. Our showers, toilets, baths and bathroom sinks consume more than two-thirds (68%) of all household water.

– One of the best ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly is to adopt as many water-saving measures as possible. This could include:

– Choosing a water-efficient toilet with ‘high’ and ‘low’ flush options.

– If you can’t afford a new toilet, you could pop a cistern bag in your cistern to reduce your water usage instead.

– Opting for a low-flow showerhead and trying to reduce your average shower time by at least a minute (you could use a timer or play your favourite song, committing to finishing your shower when it ends!).

– Turning the taps off when you’re brushing your teeth.

– Lowering your bath water by just an inch or two.

2.      Set up a recycling system

So many bathroom products are made from plastic and yet many of us are less likely to recycle bathroom waste than we are waste from other rooms in the house. As a result, bathroom waste accounts for 30-40% of waste in landfills.

There are several reasons for this.

Bathroom products aren’t always clearly labelled as recyclable, even when they are. In addition, people often have one bathroom bin so their empty recyclables go straight into that rather than heading downstairs to be washed out and popped in the recycling bin.

A simple way to make your bathroom more eco-friendly is to set up a recycling system. You could hang a bag for recyclables over the door handle, use a second bin or even designate a drawer to collect empty bottles and boxes – whatever works for you.

Let everyone in your house know that this is where empty shampoo and conditioner bottles, toothpaste boxes, aftershave and perfume bottles, and bathroom cleaner bottles should go rather than the normal bathroom bin.

3.      Buy refillable products

We can all be more environmentally friendly by reducing the number of plastic products we use. The bathroom is one place we can do this.

Before you throw any plastic or glass bottles from old products away, ask yourself whether they could be used again. There are a growing number of “zero-waste” businesses that encourage you to refill old plastic containers with as much shampoo, conditioner, soap or body wash as you want, for example. Is there a shop like this near you?

If not, there are many online businesses that sell refillable products delivered in compostable/biodegradable sachets.

4.      Use plastic alternatives

In addition to recycling or reusing the plastic products you already have in your bathroom, try to look for plastic alternatives when you do need to replace something.

This might include:

Plastic-free dental care, such as a bamboo or plant-based plastic toothbrush, bamboo interdental brushes, natural toothpaste, toothpaste tablets or powder, or mouthwash sold in a metal or glass bottle

Returning to a good, old-fashioned safety razor instead of plastic disposable razors

Switching from single-use sanitary products to soft menstrual cups, period underwear or biodegradable sanitary pads or eco-friendly tampons

Choosing plastic-free make-up brands or using reusable cotton rounds or muslin clothes instead of single-use make-up remover wipes

Opting for wooden or metal bathroom accessories


5.      Use natural cleaning products

Many cleaning products are packaged in plastic and contain harsh chemicals and microbeads that, because they can’t be fully filtered out, have a lasting detrimental effect on our water supply and the world’s ecosystems.

A great alternative to chemical cleaning products is a simple mixture of water and vinegar (with a drop of your favourite essential oil for fragrance). Add some baking soda and you’ll be amazed at how well this mix tackles tougher bathroom stains.

6.      Change the lightbulbs

Bathrooms often have more lights than other rooms in the house. You can help to reduce your energy consumption by switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light) or LEDs.

While the bulbs might cost more to buy, they last longer and are better for the planet in the longer term.

7.      Choose eco-friendly toilet paper

Apparently, every person in the UK uses an average of 127 rolls of toilet paper per year, while this number goes up to 141 rolls per person in the US. The lowest consumption comes from Brazil where each person uses an average of 38 rolls per year.

Millions of trees are felled annually to keep up with worldwide demand.

One positive change you can make in your bathroom is to switch to an eco-friendly toilet paper brand, made from either bamboo or 100% recycled paper.

Check out Good Housekeeping’s guide to the best 10 loo rolls for sustainable living.

8.      Buy eco-friendly towels

Many of us have cotton towels in our bathrooms and think of this as a natural material that must be good for the planet. In reality, though, cotton has been dubbed as the “world’s dirtiest crop” because nearly 95% of that produced globally is either genetically modified (GMO) or conventionally grown using toxic pesticides.

The next time you’re shopping for towels, look for organic cotton or other sustainable materials.

Organic cotton has a much lower environmental footprint than conventional cotton. It is also grown using plant-based, natural fertilisers and pesticides that biodegrade easily and won’t harm the farmers or local groundwater and rivers.

9.      Watch where you walk

The next time you give your bathroom a makeover, look for sustainable flooring options to fit your redesign.

Reclaimed tiles, lino made from natural materials like linseed oil and wood flour (not the synthetic version), cork, concrete made from recycled materials, and floorboards made from sustainable sources are all fantastic options for an eco-friendly bathroom that stands up to the daily traffic of family life.

Do you run or know of an ethical business that can help people make their bathrooms more sustainable? Yes?! Then we’d love to add this business to our directory too.


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