December 15, 2020 (updated April 27, 2021)
Ultimate Guide to Setting Up an Eco-Friendly Bathroom
The average person spends 416 days of their life in the bathroom, woah! That's a lot of showering, preparing for the day and, of course, taking care of biz. Buuut! Have you ever stopped and thought about all that time adding up and whether you have been environmentally considerate with all your bathroom habits? "Nope". Below is the ultimate guide on setting up an eco friendly bathroom. We've done all the work for you!
Table of contents
Take a look at daily habits
Reduce water usage
Use eco-friendly alternatives
Install a low-flow shower head
Opt for a sensor water tap
Step 1: Take a close look at daily bathroom habits
Don't freak out at the prospect of dramatically changing your bathroom to be eco-friendly. There's actually a few quick wins you can achieve by adjusting a few daily habits.
We're not talking about any ridiculous, expensive changes either! It's pretty hard to change something if you're unaware of it. So, step 1 is to become aware. Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.
Tip 1: Reduce daily water usage
Unless you're a wondering nomad like me (sorry floor for my toothpaste droplets), brushing your teeth is a daily routine that primarily occurs in the bathroom.
For those people brushing their teeth while standing in front of the mirror with the tap running the whole time, stop! You can easily help the environment by turning off the tap while brushing.
This, in turn, conserves water in surprisingly large amounts. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that up to 30 litres of water can be preserved daily. As a result, this leads to 750+ litres saved every month. Imagine what those savings could accomplish over time when invested into reforestation.
While we're at it, turning off the tap if you're shaving or applying soap to your dirty hands can also significantly conserve water.
Let's talk about showering and bathing now.
Loads of water usage piles up during both activities. Specifically, the average bath uses 189 litres of water. You can tap into (not sorry about the pun) the following methods to ensure that you use less water.
Use a timer for showering. We suggest 3 minutes or less. Probably ditch baths entirely too. They just aren't eco conscious. Go to a beach or lake instead to get a similar vibe!
Wash your hair every other day. It's a time consuming activity but if you can adjust to every second day, that's 50% less time spent with the water running while washing your hair.
The final component in a bathroom that uses a lot of water is the toilet.
In recent years, toilets have been designed to use less water when flushed.
Average modern toilets use 6 litres a flush. While these efficiency gains from manufacturers are a big tick, you can personally take it to the next level with these clever tips:
Do not use the toilet as a disposal method for tangible items. This practice will only increase the unnecessary use of water daily. C'mon people! Don't waste 6 litres of water on an unnecessary flush for items like tampons, baby wipes, dental floss, condoms and so on. You wouldn't pour 6 litres of fresh water on the ground for no reason, would you?
Do put a plastic bottle in your toilet cistern. Make sure that this bottle has a small number of pebbles or something strong enough to weigh it down. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Close the lid. This method tricks your toilet into thinking it needs less water per flush. Expect to preserve an additional 19 litres of water per day from this cheeky adjustment.
Tip 2: Use alternative, eco-friendly products
Whether it is for showering, washing your hands or brushing your teeth, we rely on a host of products in our home bathroom. Much like we just analysed our water usage, it's time to take a look at the products we use on the regular to see if we can spot any improvements.
And with that being said *drum roll*
Swap plastic toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes
Toothbrushes just aren't used forever. Their product lifecycle is around 3 months. Which means they're being disposed of circa 4 times per year. Multiply that by millions of people and we have quite an enormous amount of recurring pollution. This trade; 3 months of usage for 500 years of decomposing is not fair or eco conscious at all. We shared our thoughts about this plastic toothbrush crisis here.
Luckily, you have the power to make change. A small change to a daily habit that has a lasting impact on our environment. Our bamboo toothbrushes are shipped in recyclable packaging and are 100% vegan and BPA-free. The brushes have soft bristles while simultaneously being hard on surface stains, ensuring that brushing your teeth will be just as effective.
When it comes to end of life for the brushes, all you have to do is pull off the nylon bristles with a pair of pliers before composting the bamboo handle. It's yummy food for your vegetable patch or garden!
We are Australian designed and owned and our bamboo toothbrushes are perfect for both adults and kids. You can also pair your bamboo toothbrush with eco-friendly silk dental floss to round out your eco friendly teeth-brushing habits.
Bamboo toothbrush holders
When it comes to storing bamboo toothbrushes, it's best to find a dry area with natural light. You might even need to pat your bamboo toothbrush down with a hand towel after use. In our experience, finding a bamboo toothbrush holder is your best bet. These little guys ensure the right conditions are met. They're also biodegradable and can be composted at end of life.
Eco friendly shampoo bars
While traditional body wash products come in larger plastic bottles in liquid form, this is not the only form of body wash available. While it is easy to spot products that can act as both shampoo and body wash, plastic is still being thrown away at quick rates.
Shampoo, something that has long come only in the form of liquid, is now available in bars like soap. Plastic-free, sustainable, and using only natural ingredients, eco-friendly shampoo bars provide effective cleaning for your hair while also being sustainably created. Furthermore, there are shampoo bars with specific designs such as targeting dandruff, having shiny hair, and even 2-in-1 shampoos and conditioners.
No brainer guys! We definitely recommend switching over to eco-friendly shampoo bars as they are a product capable of effectively washing and treating all hair types with a minimal impact on the environment.
Bamboo cotton buds
Gals wear makeup. That's just how it is. We know cleaning up can be a real B word to do, especially when considering the amount of waste that can come with makeup cleaning products like plastic cotton buds or makeup pads. It's easy enough to cut this part of pollution out of your life with bamboo cotton buds. They're biodegradable and the cotton tips are recyclable. Bamboo cotton buds are versatile and can also be used for cleaning tough to reach places like between keyboards or your ears!
Bamboo hair brush
Speaking of looking after your fine looking self, the way you brush your hair matters too. Plastic hair brushes cause environmental waste when disposed of and its completely avoidable. Invest in a bamboo hair brush. These absorb much less static than regular hair brushes so you won't get frizzy hair. Plus they look great!
Silk dental floss
Dental floss often comes in plastic packaging with the floss itself being made of either nylon or teflon. Unlike other products found in your bathroom, dental floss is disposed of faster since most people only use it once. Teflon and nylon are variants of plastic, meaning that when dental floss is used regularly, plastic accumulates in both trash cans and landfills.
Silk floss and/or plant based floss are perfect alternatives to traditional plastic dental floss. Make sure you check the packaging out too when buying eco friendly floss. Much like bamboo toothbrushes, silk floss itself is compostable. Silk floss is also durable and leaves no residue, ensuring that it performs its dental duties without any issues. Woo!
Zero waste toothpaste
Traditional packaging for toothpaste usually comes in plastic tubes while the toothpaste tends to come in an equally unsustainable format. There are eco-friendly alternatives to traditional toothpaste out there, you just need to keep an eye open.
Charcoal toothpaste has become very popular among consumers for its reported ability to whiten teeth. Charcoal toothpaste is both vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. Furthermore, the activated charcoal used in the toothpaste does not contain any toxic substances, unlike other charcoal variants.
Powdered toothpaste has also become a new trend. Using calcium carbonate and various natural clays, this form of toothpaste is also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. Most brands also use eco-friendly packaging with these kinds of toothpaste. Many powdered toothpaste brands come with refillable packages, the perfect option for long term reuse of the product.
Finally, another form of toothpaste that can be used while helping the environment is known as chew paste. Chew paste is a form of toothpaste that comes in small tablets. Most forms of chew paste use all-natural ingredients and yes, they do come in plastic-free packaging.
A factor that many consumers consider before buying a particular toothpaste is whether or not fluoride is present. Fluoride is not present in charcoal toothpaste, while present in some (but not all) powdered toothpastes and chew pastes. Fluoride isn't everybody's thang. So make sure you review the ingredients of any eco friendly toothpaste before purchasing. Slap some eco toothpaste on your bamboo toothbrush and you're golden!
Eco-friendly toilet paper
The recent pandemic has shown us the great lengths people go to in the quest for toilet paper. Indeed, when it comes to the essential items, consumers tend to be shy on the detail and less likely to think about the impact their choices make on the planet. The reality is, flushing toilet paper is akin to flushing trees down the toilet. Thousands of trees are lost to the production of toilet paper every year.
There are forms of toilet paper that help with the reduction of deforestation and paper in landfills. The most common form of eco-friendly toilet paper is made with recycled paper, which also comes in recyclable packaging and is free of added chemicals. The added chemicals, used for whitening the toilet paper, are quite harmful to the environment. This is a big no-no.
Some forms of recycled toilet paper are mainly made up of post-consumer recycled paper, which has already been through the recycling process, maximizing the environmental benefits' effectiveness. Things like used textbooks and office paper are commonly used.
Additionally, there is bamboo toilet paper. Bamboo has become a reliable and eco-friendly alternative to many products that would usually be problematic to the environment. The usefulness of bamboo has, in recent years, extended to toilet paper.
Bamboo toilet paper is a relatively new form of toilet paper. With a soft but surprisingly durable composition, no added chemicals, and greatly biodegradable, this option is a perfect substitution for traditional toilet paper. Because bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, there is no concern for any resources to be wasted, unlike that of traditional forms of toilet paper.
Another benefit of bamboo toilet paper is how soft it is on the skin. Consumers who may have allergies or sensitive skin should consider buying bamboo toilet paper. Bamboo toilet paper is not only soft, but it is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. Furthermore, because FSC certified bamboo does not have any added chemicals, consumers do not have to worry about skin irritation, only about getting an essential task done.
Our daily use of toilet paper already adds so much waste to the environment. More eco friendly options should be considered as they help us take care of the environment. These options are not costly and perform the necessary functions that we all need. Make the switch!
All-natural hand soap
Humans are washing their hands more than ever due to current events. While our sanitation practices are incredibly important in preventing COVID outbreaks, it does also create an enormous drain on cleaning supplies like soap. Liquid soap uses five times more energy than bar soap and takes 20 times more energy than bar soap. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the packaging used by traditional soaps is mainly made of plastic, compounding the plastic crisis further.
The best way for you to be more eco-friendly when washing your hands is to purchase hand soap that uses all-natural ingredients. First, soaps that use all-natural ingredients do not contain the harmful chemicals of traditional hand soaps such as sodium benzoate and benzoic acid. These chemicals are harmful as they can irritate the body. Because of their widespread use in hand soap, they often disrupt bodies of water long after hands have been washed.
Second, the use of all-natural soap means that you could be using hand soap that is cruelty-free and sustainable for the environment. These soaps come in both bar and liquid form, with many great green companies offering replaceable refills for their all-natural liquid soap. Reusable anything is always a big green tick.
Our favourite Australian made, all-natural soap is from a company called Thankyou. Based in Victoria, Thankyou manufacturers and creates organic products with all profits donated to ending world poverty. Thankyou products are stocked in Woolworths and Coles. You can read about the organisation's impact here.
Capping it all off, when you're using all-natural soap, expect to smell natural scents from some of our favourite parts of nature and perhaps even experience skin benefits as some people report.
Washing our hands has never been more essential to our well-being. We are at a point in time where all nations are on high-alert due to COVID-19, bringing a heightened focus on sanitation. We should take this opportunity to not only wash our hands regularly, but sustainably too.
All-natural cleaning products
Alrighty! We've taken a deep dive on water usage and how to adjust daily tasks to be eco-friendly. So, what's next you might ask? We all love a clean bathroom. Unfortunately, cleaning products are major culprits, often containing sucky, harmful chemicals.
Aforementioned chemicals that are found in traditional bathroom cleaners are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gases that are emitted to the air from tangible products and processes, both artificial and natural. These chemicals are often washed down drains, particularly when cleaning showers and sinks. While many waste management facilities successfully remove these chemicals, many end up in large bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
However, there is a solution to this problem. Many bathroom cleaners are now free of VOCs and use all natural ingredients. These cleaners are also safe for both humans and household pets, and can be used for the same purposes as any traditional cleaner.
The packaging used by these cleaning products are eco-friendly, while being all-natural and mostly organic. Finally, these products rarely, if ever, use any additional chemicals or preservatives, meaning that the health and safety of their users are not in question.
Next time you whip out the mop or get ready to clean the dunny (SO fun!), check the label of your cleaning products and suss out if they're eco-friendly or not. Making a change to this part of your bathroom habits is going to take you one step closer to being a well-functioning green household.
Consider these 3 bigger bathroom changes
Everything recommended so far has been a relatively minor adjustment to daily habits. Easy enough. But what about the bigger, high impact changes? If you really want to create a eco-friendly and green household, consider these 3 bigger changes for your bathroom.
1. Use bidets instead of toilet paper
Bidets, though not as popular in Australia as in other countries, are an effective way to remove the need to use toilet paper in exchange for water. Bidets are kind of like a "water gun" that is used to clean your downstairs department. Initially, you may think this seems like a way to waste water and electricity, however, the pros quickly outweigh the cons when you consider the resource requirement to produce toilet paper.
National geographic reports 27,000 trees are cut down per day in support of toilet paper production. In addition to this, manufacturing the toilet paper is said to require between 45 and 140 litres of water for a single roll. Yikes.
The bidet provides a great alternative to traditional toilet paper use. You might be interested to know that 70-75% of the world does not use toilet paper. The Middle East and Asia are extremely comfortable using bidets and make up a lot of this usage. Bidets only use half a litre of water per use compared to 6 litres per flush with modern toilets. With households using the loo up to 5 times per day, the water efficiencies quickly add up. Quite the difference ladies and gents! You also score bonus points for reduced plumbing risk that is often caused by clogging after excessive toilet paper flushing.
Finally, let's chat about sanitation. Bidet's are more sanitary as many models come with an air-drying feature and require no contact with the hands to work. You may need to dry off with toilet paper though in the end you're using far less.
Just make sure you follow the ACCC rules to avoid any legal penalties when installing a bidet in your home. To be legally installed in Australia, your bidet must be certified through the WaterMark Certification Scheme, which is administered by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). You also need to use a licensed plumber. Good luck peeps! This bathroom change will massively improve your environmental footprint.
2. Install a water-saving shower head
We've backed up all our recommendations with statistics and we're not stopping now. Time to hit you between the eyes with some shower head facts. Crappy old shower heads use approximately 19 litres of water per minute while a low-flow shower head is optimised to use 9 litres per minute. That's 10 litres difference! Over an average shower length of 5 minutes, you and your family members might be wasting up to 50 litres per shower. Every day.
The solution? Install a water-saving shower head. Bunnings has a decent range which you can check out here. If you're worried about losing out on that nice high pressure water flow feeling in the shower, don't fret. Many water-saving shower heads have great designs that simulate the feeling of powerful shower heads despite actually using less water. Play around with the various spray functions and and find your sweet spot, all while using significantly less water overall.
Budget-wise, water-saving shower heads are price comparative with regular shower heads up front. When you take into account the long term water savings on your utility bill, you're actually beating out regular shower heads in terms of cost. It's a win for you and a win for the planet! Get involved my fellow Australians.
3. Opt for a sensor tap
So, you've successfully started turning the tap off while brushing your teeth or scrubbing your hands. Good on you. Great first step! But there's still more you can do to optimise your bathroom water usage. Clever manufactures have invented sensor taps. You've probably seen or used them in shopping centres but for those that don't know, you essentially wave your hand underneath the tap head and it magically starts pouring water. When the detectors do not sense the presence of your hands, the water shuts off. Simple enough.
Sensor taps have proven to be an effective replacement to the traditional bathroom tap and are believed to save around 30% to 50% of overall water usage. It pretty much automates your water saving and you don't have to think about when and when not to turn the tap off. As a result of the reduced use of water, your utilities bill is reduced and we have more fresh water for productive activities that help our environment.
Extra perks include improved sanitation. This is common sense but using sensors negates the need for hand contact. Therefore, your household has a significantly decreased risk of contamination and infection. Very valuable if someone is unwell in the house or when considering the current pandemic.
We 100% hope that these eco-friendly changes start taking place in your bathroom and across Australia. This post is your blueprint to start making an environmental difference in the bathroom. If you're feeling nice, please take a minute to share this information so you can help others make a difference too.
To summarise the key takeaways, start your transition to an eco-friendly bathroom by first assessing your daily habits. Ask questions like "How much time do I spend showering?" and "Do I flush unnecessary items down the toilet?". Becoming aware is your best defence.
Secondly, think about the products you use in the bathroom. Are they in plastic packaging? Are the products themselves made from plastic or other harmful materials? Suss out what you can swap for an eco-friendly alternative. Check out some of Ecoy's alternative eco-friendly products on offer.
And for our true eco warriors, make a big change in the bathroom. Consider the use of bidets, water-saving shower heads and sensor taps. There's a bit more upfront cost involved but your bathroom will become one of the greenest on the planet. We're talkin' minimal water and energy use with maximum positive environmental impact. That sounds pretty sweet to us. Start making a difference today or you never will!
- Earth Month Tip: Turn off the tap | The EPA Blog. (2014, April 23). Environmental Protection Agency
- Fastest growing plant. (2020). Guinness World Records
- Comparing the Environmental Footprints of Home-Care and Personal-Hygiene Products: The Relevance of Different Life-Cycle Phases. Annette Koehler and Caroline Wildbolz
Environmental Science & Technology 2009 43 (22), 8643-8651 DOI: 10.1021/es901236f
- Thank you Impact. (2020). Thank you
- Braun, D. M. (2017, December 15). Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day. National Geographic Society Newsroom
- WaterMark Certification Scheme | Australian Building Codes Board. (2020). Australian Building Codes Board
- GWMWater, (2018, February 11). How much water you use. GWMWater