How to choose eco-friendly green bathroom products

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If you're looking to make your home greener, a good place to start is with eco friendly bathroom products. With some simple changes, you can eliminate a lot of chemicals and products that damage the environment. Patty Kim of the Green Guide shows how we can all have green bathrooms.

How to choose eco-friendly green bathroom products

Here are a few simple steps to create a green bathroom that will help you do your bit for the environment and cut your family’s risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.

  • Choose recycled toilet paper and facial tissue.
  • Look for the highest percentage of “post consumer content” and check labels for paper made without chlorine processing. It may say PCF (processed chlorine free) or TCF (totally chlorine free).
  • The average adult uses nine personal care products a day with roughly 120 chemicals spread among them, many of which are not fully tested for toxicity. Read ingredient lists on labels and watch out for chemicals you can’t identify.
  • A single use of any of these items isn’t likely to cause harm, but exposure from daily use over a lifetime may add up to a problem.
  • Be wary of misleading labels, or claims that can’t be proven, like “natural” or “botanical”—even products that use the word organic in their name may contain no organic ingredients at all.
  • Using towels made with organic cotton or bamboo will also help “green” your bathroom. Bamboo is naturally resistant to pests.
  • Replacing a shower curtain liner can help “green” your bathroom. Most are made of PVC, which contains phthalates that can disrupt hormones and contribute to asthma. Look for a liner made of P-E-V-A, still vinyl but no phthalates. Or splurge and get a hemp shower curtain, which naturally resists mildew.
  • Synthetic fragrances in candles and air fresheners often contain phthalates and alcohols, aldehydes and aromatic hydrocarbons, which are respiratory irritants. Many synthetic fragrances are also petroleum based.
  • Look for candles made from beeswax, which actually cleans the air. Or look for ones made from soy, palm or other vegetable oils. And instead of room fresheners with fake fragrances, open a window, or use a fan.

 

Transcript

Hi I'm Patty Kim from the Green Guide for howdini talking about how to use greener products for your bathroom. There are a few simple changes you can make that'll help you do your bit for the enviroment and cut your family's risk of exposure to toxic chemicals at the same time.

Let's start with the obvious. You know you should be using recycled facial tissues and recycled toilet paper, but let's take it a step further and look for the highest percentage of post-consumer content you can find. For example, this brand has 80 percent. And also you'll want to check for labels for paper made without chlorine processing. It may say "PCF"--processed chlorine free, or better yet, "TCF"--totally chlorine free. 

Now let's talk about all the other creams and beauty products we use. The average adult uses nine personal care products a day with roughly 120 chemicals spread among them, believe it or not, many of which are not fully tested for toxicity. Read ingredient lists on labels and watch out for chemicals you can't identify. The Green Guide actually keeps a very handy list of what it calls the "dirty dozen" substances in personal care products you should avoid. Some things might surprise you--things like antibacterial soap. Though a single use of any of them isn't likely to cause any harm, exposure from daily use over a lifetime may add up to a problem. And be wary of misleading claims: things like "natural" or "botanical," even products that use the word "organic" in their name may contain no organic ingredients at all. 

We suggest you bring the Green Guide's Smart Shopper's card with you when you shop. It comes in handy and it's available for download from this website.

Now you'll also need towels made of organic cotton. Ordinary cotton is grown with a slew of polluting pesticides. Or for something different you might want to try bamboo towels. Bamboo is naturally resistant to pests and the bonus is it's really soft too.

And make sure you've got the right kind of shower curtain liner. Most are made of PVC, or polyvinylchloride, which contains phthalates which can disrupt hormones and contribute to asthma. Instea, shop for a liner made of P-E-V-A like these. Still vinyl, but no phthalates. Or splurge and get yourself a shower curtain made out of hemp. Hemp is great because it naturally resists mildew.

And here's something else to think about: synthetic fragrances and candles and air fresheners often contain phthalates and alcohols, aldehydes, and something called aromatic hydrocarbons which can all irritate your respiratory system. And many of these synthetic fragrances are also petroleum based. So what do you do?  Look for candles made from beeswax, which actually cleans the air. Or maybe buy a soy candle or palm or other vegetable based candles. And instead of room fresheners with those fake fragrances, just try opening a window or even using a fan.

So there you have it. Simple, green fixes in the bathroom to protect your personal environment and give the planet a break at the same time. I'm Patty Kim from the Green Guide for howdini.com. 

meet theexpert
  • Patty Kim

    Patty Kim Correspondent, National Geographic's The Green Guide Patty Kim is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. She is served as a host and anchor for National Geographic as well as reporting for the PBS television program “Nova Science Now.” more about this expert »

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