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top four tips sustainable bathroom

The Top Four Tips for a Sustainable Bathroom

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Dec 21, 2020

One of the most primary aspects related to sustainability at home has to do with water usage. Over 1 billion people in the world have no access to water. And, close to one out of every three people suffer from inadequate sanitation. For those of us fortunate enough to be born into a developed country where fresh and safe water appears seamlessly from several faucets located throughout our home, we must urgently consider how we can implement sustainability elements into how we use the water in our homes. 

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the average American person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water for household use every day. The vast majority of that water is used for flushing toilets and taking baths or showers. In 2020, water use at home has increased due to the Coronavirus pandemic. On average, American households have used 24 gallons additional per day. With so many more people aware of the importance of thorough handwashing and working from home, these increases are likely with us for the long term.

Our bathrooms, then, are one of the most water-wasting areas in our homes. Finding ways to make our bathrooms more water-smart, then, is another facet in our approach to sustainability in the house. 

Below, we offer four tips to help people make their bathrooms more sustainable and environmentally responsible. 

bathroom leaks faucet

What Can You Do To Save Water? 

Fix Leaks

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American family wastes close to 10,000 gallons of water each year due to household leaks. The steady drip of water from your bathroom sink might not seem like it amounts to much. But, this can lead to significant volumes of water that end up getting washed into the sewer system or your septic system without ever being used. 

So, if you hear the drip-drip-drip of a leak anywhere in your home, make sure to get it fixed as soon as possible to avoid needless waste of water. 

Update Water Fixtures

Another way to cut back on the number of water resources that your bathroom uses is by switching to low-flow water fixtures. These low-flow fixtures include sink faucets and showerheads that use significantly less water per minute than traditional fixtures while not sacrificing comfort and ease of use. According to the EPA, low-flow fixtures that are WaterSense certified in sinks (to name just one example) can save upwards of 30% of the amount of water you use. 

Switching to low-flow fixtures doesn't just save on water, however, but also will significantly reduce the amount of energy you use. The 2009 White Paper on The Carbon Footprint of Water estimates that around 13% of our national energy usage goes to water-related uses. At that time, this usage led to almost 300 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, and this was projected to increase. 

When looking to refit your bathroom with low-flow fixtures, make sure to look for sinks, showerheads, and toilets that are WaterSense certified, which is a voluntary certification program overseen by the EPA.

Globe Electric Integrated LEDs
Integrated LEDs. Photo Credit: Globe Electric

What Bathroom Lighting Updates Are Best?

One of the easiest (yet often overlooked) ways to reduce your bathroom's environmental footprint is related to the lighting fixtures you use. LED and integrated LED light bulbs will save you not only money but also notable amounts of energy. A typical incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of power, while the most energy-intensive LEDs only use around 10 watts. For 25,000 hours of use, you would need 21 incandescent bulbs but only one LED bulb.

While the upfront price of purchasing LEDs might be slightly more costly to buy, prices have decreased in the past few years. Over the 25,000 hours of usage, an LED will cost you around $30 in electricity, while incandescent bulbs would cost you upwards of $180. Fortunately, almost all light fixtures in bathrooms can easily be changed to LED bulbs making this one of the easiest and efficient ways to make your bathroom more sustainable.

toilet sink sinkpositive
Photo Credit: SinkPositive

What Is A Toilet Tank Sink and Why Should You Install One?

Toilet tank sinks are essentially a sink on the top of your toilet's tank. They redirect the soapy water from our bathroom sinks, called greywater, to the toilet's water tank. This installation can significantly impact your water use, compared to conventional toilets that use fresh water to wash our waste into the sewer or septic system?  

With toilet tank sinks, every time we wash our hands, brush our teeth, shave, or do any other activity in front of the bathroom mirror, water will gradually fill the toilet's water tank. When we eventually use the toilet, the water used to flush our human waste will not be fresh, potable drinking water. Instead, it will be greywater that is unfit for human use. This simple plumbing fixture can help us save thousands of gallons of drinking water each year that is usually flushed uselessly down our toilets.

Glacier Bay Motion Sensor Faucet Home Depot
Glacier Bay Motion Sensor Faucet. Photo Credit: Home Depot

What Are The Benefits of Motion Sensor Water Faucets?

Those fancy water faucets that magically turned off and on with a simple movement of our hands used to be a luxury that you could only find in offices, restaurants, and malls. Today, however, motion sensor water faucets can affordably become a part of every bathroom. Several studies have found that installing a motion sensor water faucet in your bathroom can save anywhere between 30% and 50% of the water used by every sink in your home. 

Traditional environmental wisdom has taught us to try and turn off the water faucet while we're brushing our teeth. However, many of us know that it can be not only hard to remember but also awkward to turn off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth with one hand and shaving with the other hand. Motion sensor water faucets will do that work for you.

dual flush toilet

With these four simple tips, you can easily reduce your bathroom's impact by limiting your water use and minimizing the ecological impact of your trips to the bathroom.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-12-21T20:20:35+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.