Going green has been a huge trend in recent years as the next generation of tastemakers ramps up the pressure on manufacturers and governments to protect the environment and our health. In fact, going green isn’t so much of a trend as we think about it in terms of fashion – it’s often a total lifestyle revolution that lasts much longer than, say, the lifespan of the latest viral YouTube challenge.
Truly going green not only takes into account things like food and transportation but also has means considering other aspects of your life, such as the very home you live in. Some people opt to dive right in, installing everything from the best solar panels to painting their walls only using eco-friendly brands. However, there are so many ways to go green that you can opt for baby-steps if you so choose. For instance, if you’re renovating your house, you can start by selecting certain areas of your house to go green first. Bathrooms are one place that can particularly benefit from becoming eco-friendly, given how much water expenditure is directly related to this area of your home. Here are a few tips to get you started.
If you want your bathroom to be eco-friendly, you should consider starting from the ground-up. There are plenty of ways to make the actual renovation process itself much more eco-friendly, with next to no additional effort.
Hire the experts
You can choose to hire professionals who specialize in eco-friendly renovations. From architects to contractors, there are many people offering to fill this particular market niche. Green professionals will know all the best environmentally-friendly and/or non-toxic brands of paints and other products. They’ll also be able to advise you on how to reduce your energy bills by recommending appropriate product choices and design ideas for your home. You can consult local and national directories to find accredited pros with proven credentials and recognized affiliations in your area.
Become an expert
You won’t become an architect overnight, but you’ll be better off in many ways by doing research on going green yourself. Focus on learning about things like government incentives and rebates. Conversations with your hired professionals will be a lot more productive and informative if you know what they’re talking about. You’ll also be able to articulate exactly what you’re looking for without leaving them to do guess-work. Many resources exist online, and you can even attend green trade shows and conferences. Alternatively, simply contacting your utility company for information on how to reduce your energy usage can be quite helpful as well.
Use clean, green materials
One of the more obvious steps to take when going green is to choose materials that in themselves are already made in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner. For instance, opt for linoleum over vinyl. This goes for everything from vinyl wallcoverings to shower curtains because vinyl is the most damaging plastic to the environment.
On another note, you don’t want to skimp out when it comes to choosing non-toxic products over their toxic counterparts. These products will be certified by one or more environmental and/or governmental bodies, proving that they are all that they claim. Do your research to make sure that labels are not merely fluff, and that there is an actual rigorous certification procedure behind any given claim.
The reason why non-toxic bathroom materials are important is that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) release poisonous emissions into the air over time. These compounds become particularly concentrated indoors. Unfortunately, they are often found in glues and paints, fabrics, caulks, floorboards, carpets and more. Can you just imagine having a nice steamy shower as you inhale a lungful of VOCs? Going green is definitely the better choice when it comes to creating a non-toxic home environment.
There are plenty of people on the hunt for used materials to do their own home renovations at a lower cost. If you’ve just invested in some custom bathroom vanity cabinets made of sustainable forest wood, using non-toxic glues and paint or what have you, don’t just chuck the old ones onto the curb. Local donation centers are always happy to take on used items that can be put to use in someone else’s dream home. Just be sure to call in advance to see what items they will and won’t take so that you don’t waste time hauling things across town!
Beyond making the renovation process more eco-friendly, the key to having a green home is by maintaining it in a healthy and environmentally-friendly manner long after the contractors have left your place for the last time.
Reduce water waste
Install low-flow toilets, which are both functional and often come in beautiful designs. They can save you up to 7 gallons of water a flush. Dual-flush toilets are also a great option, and if you don’t want an entirely new toilet, you can opt for a dual flush converter for less than $25. It’ll take you less than ten minutes to install and can save you up to 55,000 liters of water per year. Given that toilets alone use up just over a quarter of all water in your home, this is something you’ll seriously want to think about when it comes to going green in the long run.
Similarly, low-flow showerheads will bring the average 5 to 8 gallons of water a minute down to 2.5 gallons, without you losing that water pressure you love. Some even come with built-in water filters, removing things like chlorine, which can have a drying effect on your hair and skin. This is another quick and easy fix that can help reduce your annual water bill.
Be energy efficient
Another easy upgrade you can make is to invest in LED light bulbs, which can come in cold or warm tones. These will consume 80 percent less energy and can last up to five times longer than other types of bulbs out there. What’s not to love? Shop for them in terms of lumens instead of watts. If you’re partial to incandescent lights, “warm white” and “soft white” are popular colors which give you a very similar warm glow.
An energy-efficient fan is also a great way to bring down energy costs. Furthermore, a strong but silent fan can reduce the chance of mildew and mold growing in your new bathroom. This should make you jump for joy – not only does it bring down the time you spend scrubbing those grout lines, it reduces the chance of you suffering adverse health effects from breathing in nasty mold.
Are you convinced yet? Going green is definitely the better option when it comes to bathroom renovations. As you can see, there’s an option for everybody, so even a small budget doesn’t stand in your way of making small changes. Your health and the environment will thank you for doing your part!