Sustainable spaces: Greening up the bathroom
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Sustainable spaces: Greening up the bathroom


Change your bathroom space for the better

With droughts plaguing our land and Australians’ water usage one of the highest in the world, ideas for water conservation are in constant motion. Australia will always be a dry continent, but we do have opportunities to change the way we use water. And what better place to look at liquid consumption than the bathroom?

Making the switch to water efficiency is relatively cheap and easy to do in this room, by swapping shower heads and taps for low-flow and adding in aerators make a little water go a long way. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for this change either. Low flow does not mean low pressure; design elements such as a wider shower head means the spray can feel pressurised without the environmental price tag.

Keep an eye out for the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme (WELS) star rating on your bathroom products, with three-star-rated showerheads using a maximum of 9L per minute. Multiply that by a family’s collective shower usage over a year and you’ve saved potentially thousands of litres. Similarly, dual-flush toilet systems with a four-star WELS rating can use a miserly 4.5L for a full flush and 3L for a half flush.

Going green isn’t just about saving water, however; the materials that cover the floor and walls are similarly important, and here’s where it can get challenging. Researching tile suppliers to find eco-friendly options, from sourcing to manufacturing all the way to the product landing in your home, is worthwhile for the planet.

“Each year, 2.12 billion tonnes of waste is generated, of which 99 per cent is dumped within the first six months,” says Josh Earp, marketing manager of tile company Earp Bros. “With the current war on waste, many brands are claiming to be eco-friendly without evidence to support their claims.”

Working closely with Spanish manufacturer Porcelanosa, Earp Bros undertook the intense certification process of the world-recognised Global GreenTag, where its products were assessed for environmental impact at all stages of the product’s lifecycle. With concerted environmental efforts ranging from recycling production water and cogenerated power systems through to dust extraction methods and transporting via rail instead of truck, they achieved Global GreenTag GoldPlus and GreenRate Level A. With the technology available for companies to be creating sustainable processes and reducing their footprint, consider carefully who you partner with for your space. Look into your tile manufacturer’s environmental certifications to verify its sustainability.

An eco-friendly space is characterised by quality, durable materials that move away from the “fast fashion” trend of interiors. “Tiles should last the life of your building while looking as good as the day they were installed,” explains Josh. “Consider the heavy use of your flooring and design for the future by selecting tiles made from high-quality yet abundant raw materials.”

Choose timber- or stone-look tiles to enjoy the beauty of nature without it costing the environment. “Sustainability has never looked, or functioned, so well in our homes,” continues Josh. “Our customers are sometimes surprised at the properties of our tiles — offering scratch-, stain- and water-resistance, containing no VOCs and being maintenance-free all without harming nature. Tiles like these make it easy to choose eco-friendly.”

With your tiles and fittings all sorted in your bathroom, add a bit of plant power as the finishing touch. Green friends like aloe vera or peace lily plants are known to filter out pollutants and improve air quality for a healthier bathroom. Window sills are the prime location for plants to soak up the sunlight and enjoy the humid environment.

Sustainable bathroom: tick! Up next is creating an environmentally friendly kitchen and a green home as a whole.

Images courtesy of Earp Brothers

Originally published in Kitchens & Bathrooms Quarterly 26.1