How To Make Your Bedroom and Bathroom More Eco-Friendly
Of all the rooms in your home, where you rest, relax and refresh should be healthy, worry-free zones. That means taking all the steps necessary to ensure your are living up to your eco-friendly standards while doing all you can to protect the well-being of your family.
Sleep Easy on an Organic Mattress
As ideal as it sounds sleeping on a "memory" foam mattress that contours to your body shape, what you're buying in comfort may cost more in health problems down the road. Most memory foam mattresses are made from petroleum that emits VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. Mattresses made of this material also require the addition of flame retardant chemicals. It is petroleum, after all. Of course, this is not limited to memory foam alone. Most mattresses are made of synthetic materials that outgas vapors into the air - the last thing you might expect to promote a healthy night's sleep.
Fortunately, the eco-minded among us need not sacrifice comfort for health. Look for an organic mattress made from natural materials. And if memory foam is what you want, there are numerous soy-based options on the market today.
Install Low-Flow WaterSense Faucets, Shower Heads, and Toilets
Faucets are responsible for 15 percent of household water usage, with a conventional faucet flowing at 4 gallons per minute. Replace it with a WaterSense-labeled low-flow aerator faucet and you can cut that down to .5 gallons per minute! To go a step further, you may opt for a faucet controlled by foot pedal, knee or motion as you see in many public bathrooms these days.
Of course, you need not invest in a whole new faucet to reap the green benefits of low-flow aerators. You can very inexpensively install one in the faucet you already own.
Shower Heads are responsible for 17 percent of household water usage. As with faucets, making your shower more eco-friendly is relatively inexpensive. Simply install a WaterSense-labeled low-flow shower head. With a flow rate of less than a gallon per minute, you can cut shower water usage by 70 percent!
Toilets are responsible for nearly 30 percent of household water usage, making it the largest source of water consumption in your home. If yours is an older toilet, chances are it uses 5 gallons of water per flush. So it's wise to invest in a newer model at just 1.6 gallons per flush. You can find them even lower than that if you look for a WaterSense-labeled HET (High Efficiency Toilet) that will not allow more than 1.3 gallons per flush. It's well worth the investment, as you can expect to save up to $2,000 over your toilet's lifetime.
Also, keep in mind that flow rate is not the only thing to blame for an inefficient toilet. Leaks contribute to substantial water loss. Fix them or replace the toilet, especially if it's an older model that needs to be upgraded anyway.
Or you can practically eliminate the need for water with a composting toilet. They require very little water, instead relying on aerobic bacteria to break down waste.
Keep the Bathroom Well Ventilated
Bathroom fans are essential to eliminating standing moisture that otherwise is a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Make sure yours is working properly and, if in doubt, replace it with an Energy Star model.
As for all your other bathroom decor needs, use good green common sense. If and when it's time to replace your sink, for example, consider recycled materials like copper, cast metal and plastic. And you have plenty of natural, sustainable options for your bathroom linens - from towels, to rugs, to shower curtains.