Mother Earth Living

Best for the Bath: Eight Eco-Friendly Products for Your Green Bathroom

From handmade tiles to shower filters, these products are healthy for you and the environment.
By Laurel Kallenbach
July/August 2004
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Whether your bathroom serves the entire family or is your private mini-retreat center, make it a place that’s healthy for you and the environment by outfitting it with energy- and water-saving devices, nontoxic materials, and items of artisanal beauty.

1. Get creative with color using Oceanside Glasstile’s luxurious handmade tiles made from discarded recycled bottle glass. Shown are cobalt Tessera one-inch mosaic tiles, which contain up to 85 percent recycled content and come in iridescent or non-iridescent finishes. (760) 929-4000.

2. Your skin and lungs absorb the chemicals in shower droplets and steam—including chlorine, a possible carcinogen. Chlorinated water can also cause dry, itchy skin and scalp. The Rainshow’r CQ1000 Dechlorinating Shower Filter comes with a low-flow, massaging showerhead that conserves water and removes at least 90 percent of free chlorine. $45–$50; $17.50 for replacement cartridge. (800) 243-8775.

3. Who’s the fairest of them all? Faces in the mirror are doubly beautiful when framed by a Fair Trade, reclaimed-copper mirror from Susan Hebert Imports. Using discarded copper, artisans in central Mexico hand-forge works in the traditional way and receive a living wage. This 27- by 20-inch oval mirror is $340; other designs and sizes available. (503) 248-1111.

4. Clear the air of unpleasant scents and moisture that could lead to mold and mildew. The Solitaire Ultra-Silent Bath Fan from Broan contains a high-efficiency centrifugal blower, is safe for installing over tubs and showers, and is Energy Star rated, so it uses 65 percent less energy than most standard models. $212. (800) 558-1711.

5. End bathroom clutter with this over-the-door utility rack from Gaiam. The chrome-plated Bath Rack and Hamper has a shelf for toiletries, three towel rods, and an unbleached, undyed, cotton canvas hamper bag with a separate pocket for delicate items. Fits doors up to 11/2 inches thick. $39. (877) 989-6321.

6. If you’re looking for a unique tub for your bathroom, why not give an older model a second life? Check a local architectural salvage store or re-store for vintage or antique soaking or claw-foot tubs, vanity or pedestal sinks, and reusable bathroom fixtures.

7. Each home wastes thousands of gallons of water annually as people wait for the tap water to turn hot. The Taco D’Mand System delivers hot water and circulates the cool water that normally runs down the drain back to the water heater through the cold water line. The silent pump attaches easily under the sink; its heat sensor shuts off the unit when the water is hot. The 008-DM-PK model, including plumbing adapter kit (shown): $404. (401) 942-8000.

8. Conventional vanity tops are made of nonrenewable materials such as wood or stone, petroleum-based laminates, or high-embodied-energy cement. Syndecrete, however, incorporates 41 percent recycled or recovered industrial materials such as fly ash, recycled carpet fiber, metal shavings, plastic regrinds, and glass and wood chips into its concrete mixture. Natural pigments can be added; surfaces are finished with a nontoxic sealer. (310) 829-9932.

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