“Going green” is the new way of life. People are taking control of their environment and learning that they can make a difference. Usually when someone plans to “go green”, they are considering changing to a more natural lifestyle. Bathroom remodeling probably does not pop into their minds in their plans for going green.

While there are many products available to help you with your plans of “going green” with your cleaning, there are also things you can do when you create that new bathroom.

Creating a green bathroom is one of the easiest rooms to convert. You will be able to immediately do your part in helping the environment just by changing out fixtures that were manufactured before the water conservation mandates in 1994. Manufacturers have been paying attention to the consumer’s needs and have been developing more recyclable and sustainable products.

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Your water bill can be lowered significantly just by using low-flow water fixtures, this can save you thousands of gallons of water each year. It is time to create an energy efficient bathroom and learn ways to reduce the water we use. In fact, in Australia, water is scarce and they have to recycle their water. We need to take control now so we do not have to wonder where our water is going to come from. We need to take steps now to make sure our environment will be able to sustain us in the future.

Indoor air quality is also a factor in the bathroom. The bathroom is subjected to heat and humidity. Ventilation is extremely important, especially when you mix heat and humidity with cleaning chemicals and hygiene and cosmetics products.

Although there are natural cleaning, hygiene, and cosmetic products you can purchase, you need to also reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the bathroom. These are found in building materials, such as cabinetry, adhesives, caulks, and paints. VOCs can cause many health issues, ranging from asthma to cancer.

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“Going green” can sometimes feel overwhelming because of all the unfamiliar terms. Here are some tips to help you create a “green” bathroom.

• When purchasing your cabinets or vanity tops, look for materials that are made from wheat board or other low-VOC materials. Regular cabinets can off-gas harmful VOCs for up to 15 years because they contain urea-formaldehyde.

• Make the switch in your lighting to fluorescent with electronic ballasts or halogen lighting. If at all possible, get as much natural light into your bathroom as possible. You will save on energy and the electric bill!

• It is important to have a vent fan to help to eliminate odors, airborne irritants and moisture that can possibly lead to mold. You should run your vent fan for at least 25 minutes after a shower to remove all of the moisture.

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• When purchasing your tub and shower, try to choose recycled glass, ceramic or porcelain tile for shower surrounds. Grout that is thinner and not sanded and that have light colored epoxy grout, except white, are not as prone to mold and mildew.

• When considering an eco-friendly bathroom floor, look into natural tile and natural linoleum. These are your best choices. Vinyl sheets and man made tile products are not good choices for a green bathroom.

• Check to make sure the caulks, adhesives and sealant labels you use say that they are low or have no VOCs. Many of these items contain some type of mold inhibiting compound so that it makes cleaning easier, which helps you use less harmful cleaning products. However, many of these could be harmful. So, check the labels.

Each person can make a difference in our environment. The more energy we conserve and the more water we save will help to ensure a brighter future for our families. So, the next time you remodel your bathroom, consider incorporating “green” into your design.

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