28 May 2012

Green Bathroom

1. Toilet paper and tissue.

Buy brands that recycle their paper. Marcal is available in supermarkets, and is usually pretty inexpensive; Seventh Generation is in health food stores. The National Resources Defense Council lists more brands, including recycled paper content and some brands to avoid (notable: Charmin, Kleenex, Cottonelle, Bounty) here.

On the numbers of trees felled each year to make products from non-recycled or "virgin" fiber, check out this article from MSNBC.  Europeans use far more recycled toilet paper than Americans, and it's been claimed that soft toilet paper is worse for the environment than SUVs.

Also: hanging the roll so it rolls off the top rather than the bottom turns out to be better for the environment.  Something about the friction and the spin means it's easier to end up with more than you wanted if it rolls off the bottom.  Who knew?

2. Creams, gels, facial washes, and other toiletries.

When you think the package is empty, cut it open. You'll be shocked at how much is left in there. Cover what's left with a baggie or a piece of tin foil (rinsed and recycled from the kitchen) so it doesn't dry out.

Before you go and buy a new container of whatever personal care product you'll finish two or three weeks after you cut open the package, consider what's in it and investigate more sustainable alternatives: plants versus petroleum, natural versus synthetic colors and fragrances.

Also consider the packaging.  Can you buy a comparable product in a bar instead of liquid form, and avoid the plastic container?  How about a large container, rather than numerous small ones?

3. Cleaning products.

Conventional cleaners contain various chemicals that get into the air in quantities that are quite toxic and can contribute to asthma and other diseases of the airways.  Hire someone else to clean your home?  Talk to them about using human-friendly products: for their own sake as well as that of the planet.