Sustainable Ways to Remodel a Bathroom
Contributed by Beni Restea
Like any other part of the house, your bathroom can better suit your lifestyle, but it can also respect your sustainability principles. We all know that water usage is exceptionally high in our bathrooms. The faucets and drains are used to conduct water for our use and perform the essential functions of the room. But there’s no reason to worry your environmentally conscious mind over it. Your bathroom can fulfill its purpose, look fabulous and be sustainable at the same time.
People are increasingly more aware of the effect our lifestyle has on the environment. Becoming more aware means becoming more responsible with our choices and how we live our lives. For many, that also extends to their homes and their household’s carbon footprint. When you face your next bathroom remodel, considering those values might seem complicated, but with a few simple pointers, it isn’t an unconquerable mountain.
Up next, you’ll find a few tips and guidelines to look at before you start your sustainable bathroom remodel. Reducing your impact on the environment can be fun, fashionable, and economically friendly at the same time.
Decrease the Flow of Water
As one of the most precious resources on the planet, water is wasted in massive amounts, and we barely even think twice about it. While upgrades are happening all the time, many people still use updated systems that increase the amount of water waste and the monthly cost.
An old toilet model uses between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush. However, a conventional toilet only uses 1.6 gallons per flush. Some dual-flush models release lower amounts of water per small flush and normal amounts per big flush. The big flush will release 1.6 gallons of water, and the small flush about half of that. Like that, liquid waste does not waste the same amount. Manufacturers also integrated vacuum technology into toilet flushing systems to reduce water usage even more. In Japan, they added a sink on top of the toilet, so the water you use to wash your hands is used again when you flush.
Your old showerhead generally uses up to 5.5 gallons of water per minute. Nowadays, however, standard showerheads only use 2.5 gallons per minute. If this sustainable bathroom remodel includes a shower change, look into low-flow showerheads. There are two types on the market: aerating or laminar flow. The laminar flow creates individual streams through which it pushes water. The aerating type creates a misty stream by mixing air with water flow. More last-minute innovations are happening every day. The shower that recycles the water you use is gaining more interest as it doesn’t limit the time spent in the shower, but only the water you use by up to 90%.
If you have a garden, you might be interested in discovering that you can actually water your backyard with safe wastewater from your household. We aren’t talking about water that has been contaminated with solid toilet waste but may contain remains of dirt, grease, hair, food, and cleaning products. This greywater is not only safe but beneficial for your lawn and a sustainable irrigation system. While a third of the average US residential water use comes from yard maintenance, an innovative and eco-friendly irrigation system can save you a third of your water bill.
Energy Efficient Equipment
While the bathroom may not be the most energy-consuming room, the equipment we use in the bathroom can be more energy-efficient as well. You probably have your water heater in another part of the house, like a boiler room. If you’re thinking about undertaking a sustainable bathroom remodel, you should look into installing a water heater in your bathroom. Instead of 20 or 40 feet of plumbing, you’ll need around ten or less, and the heated water won’t cool off along the way. A tankless water heater is an excellent alternative as they are much smaller and use 22% less energy than the conventional ones.
Switching from conventional lighting to LED light-bulbs will do wonders for your energy cost. Using lighting intentionally also goes a long way towards a sustainable bathroom remodel. Natural light is always the best option, but also implementing more artificial lighting can decrease energy consumption. For instance, you can use ceiling lights and a vanity light according to the need. LED bulbs conserve energy, and we can use LED strips to create an amazing aesthetic effect when not visible.
Sustainable Materials and Cabinetry
Depending on what your bathroom design will eventually be, look into sustainable options for your bathroom furniture. Even if we look at vanity, there are many ways to upcycle a furniture item. From the more unconventional but intriguing old sewing machine transformed into a sink mask and bathroom cabinet to simply repainting an old vanity, not everything you have must be new.
A vintage bathtub looks fantastic in a spacious design and is more affordable. Extending an item’s life is more sustainable when that item doesn’t negatively impact. If cast iron bathtubs don’t have toxic chemicals like lead, they can have an incredibly long-lasting life. While fiberglass and acrylic are the most common options, your bathtub could also be made of steel with a 30-year guarantee. After you are done with it, the steel can be recycled into other products.
Avoid as much as you can any materials that contain formaldehyde and VOCs as they can have long-lasting effects on our health. Any material with high recycled components is more sustainable than brand new materials. Cork, eco-friendly concrete, bamboo, or natural plasters are other less conventional options. Tiles made out of ceramics aren’t only more eco-friendly but also have increased durability. Glass tile is a less conventional option that is both sustainable and eye-catching.
Accessorize your Sustainable Bathroom
Everything you use inside your bathroom can help decrease your carbon footprint, especially if you want to implement sustainability throughout your home. A sustainable bathroom remodel doesn’t stop at showerheads and tiles. While many will say that bath mats made of cloth come with a wide range of sustainability characteristics, they can retain mold and mildew that can affect our health and well-being. Opt for mats made out of teak wood. Aside from its bacteria-resistant property, teak can add a modern look to your bathroom design and embrace other wooden elements as well.
Your bathroom towels and washcloths are usually made out of cotton if the materials don’t also include plastic fibers like polyester. You can look into organic cotton or other more sustainable materials like bamboo or hemp. Bamboo can not be locally sourced around the globe, and it also has a bigger carbon footprint through its manufacturing and transportation methods. On the other hand, Hemp is far easier to grow and manufacture, making it more sustainable throughout.
Your toothbrush, laundry basket, storage baskets, or other small bathroom knick knacks can be made out of sustainable materials. While for some, bamboo is an excellent alternative to plastic as wood can deteriorate easier in water, for others, ceramics work fantastic to complete the whole bathroom design and your eco-friendly products.
You won't regret implementing these sustainability features!
It’s easy to get caught up in your sustainable bathroom remodel. It all depends on what you need to remodel in your bathroom, keeping your budget in mind, and remembering your needs and lifestyle choices. At the end of the project, we are confident you won’t regret implementing some of these sustainability features. You might not be aware of the financial impact these changes have on your budget in the first week, but once you compare the monthly cost, this investment will show its potential.