• Feb 21 B blue BG

There are so many ways to "go green" nowadays; it can often be difficult to decide which sustainable elements to incorporate into your own home. Instead of being overwhelmed by all of the options and trying to be the greenest house on the street, follow these suggestions to create an elegant and eco-friendly bath that's fit for a greener lifestyle.

1. Rethink Surfaces
Green materials do more than upgrade the sustainability and style of your bath. They also allow for or provide sound health and hygiene practices - and the surfaces within your bath are no exception. Most materials have more features than simply being environmentally friendly. For example, bamboo is anti-microbial and water-resistant, and it can be used in a variety of applications. It's an elegant and versatile choice for flooring and countertops. Not interested in using wood? Natural linoleum has similar qualities to bamboo, but it's also biodegradable, non-toxic and easy to maintain. Best of all, natural linoleum will last for nearly 40 years and is available in a large selection of colors, patterns and borders.

2. Spruce up the vanity
Looking to create a new focal point in your bath? Do so by updating your vanity. Fight the urge to run out and purchase a brand new cupboard or cabinets; reusing existing furniture can be the best and kindest choice for the environment. Try repurposing an old chest you already own or find one at a garage sale, antique store or flea market. Use the secondhand piece as is to achieve a vintage look and feel. Or, customize the piece to suit your color scheme and style with a fresh coat of paint or stain - but be sure to use one with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for healthy, indoor air quality.

Can't find a piece you love in the used marketplace? Try to buy responsibly and find something made from sustainable materials or that has environmentally friendly certifications. Look for Greenguard and MBDC Cradle to Cradle certifications on products, as well as items that utilize Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. These indicate that the products have been produced in a sustainable fashion with little environmental impact. If you're planning to build a new vanity, utilize eco-friendly raw materials, including bamboo, beech wood, reclaimed lumber or bent plywood. For an added benefit, try to buy locally; you'll avoid shipping costs and reduce the carbon footprint associated with your purchase, which is even better.

3. Smart water savings
The most important environmental benefit of a green bathroom is reducing the amount of water used. In order to get the most out of your eco-friendly bath, be sure to install fixtures that use less water and energy. The easiest upgrade to make is switching to a water-efficient showerhead, like the EnviTM Eco-Performance rainshower showerhead from Moen. Envi is Moen's first eco-performance rainshower showerhead and features its innovative Immersion® technology - a self-pressurizing system that increases the force and flow of water delivery, all while using up to 20 percent less water than the industry standard. Now you can still have the rain drenching experience you're used to in the shower, while saving one of Earth's most precious resources.

Another way to reduce your water consumption is to install a lavatory faucet that is certified to meet WaterSense® criteria. WaterSense, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aims to decrease indoor and outdoor water use through water-efficient products and simple, water-saving practices. The new Eva® single-handle faucet from Moen has been certified to meet WaterSense criteria, thanks to Moen's eco-performance aerator that allows water to flow at 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm), versus traditional aerators that flow at 2.2 gpm. This new aerator provides consumers the sensational water experience they are accustomed to, while reducing water usage by up to 32 percent. Eva features transitional styling and understated details, such as a tapered handle and sophisticated lines, giving it timeless appeal.

4. Earth-friendly accessories
Want to make a sustainable impact on your bath without remodeling? Be aware of how you decorate the space. For example, a rubber bath mat or plastic shower curtain can wreak havoc on your indoor air quality, especially if you have a poor ventilation system.

In the shower, look for PVC-free plastic or natural fabrics, such as cotton or bamboo, for your next shower curtain and liner, as PVC emits off-gassing chemicals that can be dangerous. Or, go for a more permanent solution, like hemp, which is naturally resistant to mold, as long as you keep your bathroom well-ventilated.

To increase the elegance of your bath, incorporate towels and rugs made from organic cotton. Since organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, it's an unbeatable and hypoallergenic option for you and any guests.

5. Updates that last
One of the main components to greening any space is to consider designing for longevity. Ensuring your new bath is built to last is key - the amount of waste that goes to landfill sites from new construction and remodeling is massive; nearly 40 percent of all waste. A well-designed bathroom also means less maintenance and fewer repairs, and can even postpone the need for costly remodels. So be sure to consider materials and products that are durable and can withstand the rigors of everyday use.

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