André Fonseca explains the sustainable changes to make to your bathroom.
Today there are major concerns about the environment and the big villain is currently plastic. We’ve heard stories of whales with tonnes of plastic lodged in their stomachs, for example.
However, it’s not just energy supplies and plastics that are causing issues. It’s the overuse of everything, from water to fossil fuels, from packaging to fashion items.
Fortunately, we’re changing our buying habits. In a recent survey from Accenture, 72 per cent of people reported actively buying more environmentally-friendly products than five years ago, while 81 per cent said they expected to buy even more over the next five years.
Unfortunately, many of the systems we have in place were designed when environmentalism wasn’t as great a concern.
Let’s talk bathrooms specifically. A single flush of the toilet can use up to six litres of water (older models using far more). Showers require heat and power, bathtubs are made from non-recyclable materials, and cleaning products tend to be intense.
Given this, how can you make your bathroom more eco-friendly?
Install low-flow fixtures
Supplies of freshwater that have not been polluted are drying up, so it’s a resource we need to protect. People started by turning off taps when brushing their teeth and installing more water-efficient toilet flushes.
However, we can take water-saving even further with low-flow fixtures in your bathroom.
For example, the dual-flush toilet which helps to reduce the average water consumption per flush to four litres or less.
Another, more recent, example is the Nebia Spa Shower, which uses 10 precision nozzles to atomise the water. Not only does this leave you feeling just as clean as a regular shower, but it also saves up to 65 per cent of the water.
Recapture your heat energy
Many of us enjoy the convenience of a power shower. However, if you have a smart meter installed, you’ll see how much energy power showers use ‒ they’re one of the biggest energy drains in the entire house.
Have you ever considered that a lot of that heat energy is simply disappearing down the drain? In a power shower heated to 40 degrees Celsius, the water going down the drain is still around 38 degrees.
Zypho has created an innovative recovery/ recapture system that can be retrofitted into existing showers to recapture that heat. All that 38-degree water is used to pre-heat the fresh mains water going up to the shower, helping to save up to 67 per cent of the energy cost of heating a shower. It’s a very simple yet effective way to recapture energy!
We want to recycle. Yet, our bathrooms contain some of the largest items in a home and most are non-recyclable.
Take bathtubs. Most are made of fibreglass or acrylic ‒ materials that are difficult to recycle. A main reason for this is their durability and longevity, which is a good eco-credential to have.
However, a German company called KALDEWEI has created bathtubs made from steel enamel. Every tub comes with 30-year guarantee, giving it the same longevity as traditional bathtub materials. However, instead of ending up in a landfill, these steel bathtubs can be completely recycled.
Another material to consider is recycled tiles. Most tiles are created from virgin materials, using vast amounts of natural resources. Bedrock Industries creates bathroom tiles from recycled content. This saves other materials from going to landfill.
Buy better cleaning products
The bathroom is an area of the house most people want to be exceptionally clean so they opt for strong, intensive cleaning products.
Ammonia or bleach-based products are popular. They have great antibacterial and antifungal properties yet are particularly bad for the environment and can be toxic.
A simple alternative is to make your own cleaners from natural products such as white vinegar and lemon. This combo cuts through grease and oil very well and is also very gentle on the environment.
If you’re not a fan of the vinegar smell or don’t have the time or inclination to mix your own cleaning products, you could opt for an environmentally-friendly cleaning brand.
Seventh Generation offers eco-friendly cleaning products for the entire house, from washing up liquid to floor cleaner. All of their products are made from natural, non-toxic ingredients with essential oils used for fragrance.
Another, more widely available option is ECover. The company is B-Corp certified, demonstrating that they have a commitment to social and environmental good. Plus, their packaging is made from sugarcane so it’s also biodegradable.
André Fonseca is the CEO of Zypho, a company developing internationally-patented shower-drain heat recovery solutions for domestic and commercial showers.