Monday, February 24, 2014

Conservation Monday #4: Reducing Waste in the Bathroom

Once again, welcome to my weekly Conservation Monday series!

In keeping with last week's focus on the kitchen, I decided to focus on conservation in the bathroom this week.

In my posts about conserving water, I've already discussed the idea of reusing the shower water for plants. Today, let's look at a few other changes you can make to conserve resources in the bathroom (listed in no particular order)

1. Toilet paper. 
There are a few different ways you can reduce waste with regards to toilet paper. Some people have adopted the idea of "family cloth" which is a washable wipe rather than disposable toilet paper. (The linked website has a good explanation of family cloth.) This is not something I'm personally willing to do at this point, due to laundry situations in our building, and the fact that with grad school thesis I really don't need yet another cleaning chore around the house!
However, I do look for brands that use minimal packaging. I don't need each roll individually wrapped! In some areas you can also find toilet paper with a certain percentage of post-consumer recycled material, which can be a great choice. My rule for buying toilet paper from eco-friendly brands is that it must be just as soft and efficient as my preferred "standard" brand. If I have to use extra sheets of the eco-friendly brand because it's not doing as good of a job, it's not really saving resources.

2. Brushing teeth.
If you are one of the people who still run water the entire time you're brushing your teeth, take this moment to finally stop the water waste! Personally, growing up in California where we have always been taught to be water conscious, I've never met someone who runs water the whole time. I just wet the toothbrush at the beginning, then use water to rinse at the end. So I'm not sure if it's something that is still done, but if you do this is seriously one of the easiest ways to conserve water!

3. If it's yellow, let it mellow.
This may be more of a drought-specific tip for the bathroom, but it can save some serious water! Please excuse the details (but hey, you've made it this far in a post about the bathroom) but on days when I'm feeling fully hydrated I can pee multiple times, and it's fairly clear. Gallons of water just to flush down some nearly clear pee? No thank you! I'll be saving that water.
Now, when I have guests over, I do make sure to flush before they arrive! Since we're not on water restrictions yet I figure politeness can trump a single flush.

4. Shorter showers.
If you're in an area with limited water, learn to take "Navy showers" where you turn the water on to get wet, then turn it off while you soap up. Turn it back on just to rinse off, then hop out.
Droughts are no time for luxurious long showers or baths. I miss a relaxing bath as much as the next lady, but unless you're bailing all that water out into a garden afterwards it is wasteful in these conditions.
Even if you're not suffering from California's current drought, shorter showers can still save you water and money. Shave just one minute off your shower, and you can save about 2 gallons per day! That's 14 gallons in a week that isn't running down the drain.

5. Ditch the disposable cleaners.
Disposable wipes have become ubiquitous. Their ads claim that they are more sanitary than reusable rags, but what so many commercials fail to take into account is that you're supposed to toss used rags into the laundry rather than use a soiled cloth to wipe down your baby's high chair!
Honestly, since simplifying my cleaners and swapping out for primarily organic options, we have been sick even less. I use rags for every cleaning job, hang them up in the shower to dry out then toss them in the laundry basket. Rags get washed together (with paint clothes) roughly once a week in hot water. It's simple, keeps worn out clothes from heading to the landfill, and prevents all those disposable wipes from ever entering our house.

What other tips do you have for reducing waste of any kind in the bathroom? Please share in the comments!

Linked up to:
Waste Not Want Not Wednesday


  1. Great tips! In elementary school I had a wonderfully eco-conscious teacher who taught us to not let water run and to always turn off lights we weren't using. Now, despite always living near lakes and oceans, my husband and I are, like you, always hydrated so things often "mellow" ;)

    Thanks for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I've pinned it.

    1. Thanks for pinning! That's great that your teacher made conservation a part of your education. While my series of tips was spurred by the drought situation, a lot of these are good to implement no matter where you live and I'm hoping I can inspire people to use natural resources wisely!