Small Changes In Your Bathroom, Big Benefits For the Environment

blog action dayIn case you haven’t heard, today is Blog Action Day, or a day when

bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind – the environment.

I think this is a great demonstration of the power that bloggers have to influence, and even bring about change with important issues, like the environment.

However, change is never easy. I’ve found that the most effective changes almost always start small, and are built upon. So if you’re like me and want to start becoming a little more eco-friendly, read on. I’ve found a few tricks that anyone can do to start treating the environment a little better, all from within the friendly confines of your bathroom.

  1. Don’t flush every time. I did a mission’s trip in Mexico, and while they technically did have plumbing, it didn’t always act like it. The little town’s sewer system wasn’t quite as advanced as you or I are accustomed to, and backups were frequent across the town. So, we implemented this simple rule, and I still use it today:

    If it’s Yellow, let it Mellow
    If it’s Brown, flush it Down

    While it’s not the prettiest way to save water, it does get the job done. (I usually skip this rule when company comes over.) The toilet can be a huge waste of water, considering each flush uses around 5 or 6 gallons of water. And if we’re healthy we should be going to the bathroom many times per day. Multiply that by the family members in your house, and you’ve got a lot of water. If you can flush only every other time, you’re saving a lot of water.

  2. Turn off Your Water While Soaping Up. Instead of lathering up your hair and bod with the water running, just turn it off. This can save quite a bit of water as well, as a good chunk of your shower time consists of this. Plus, having the water running
  3. Turn off the Water While Brushing Your Teeth. Another simple fix. I used to keep the water running while I brushed my teeth, and I never knew why. I just grew up doing it. I haven’t done any conclusive tests, but I guesstimate this could save a gallon or so. Depending on how thorough you are at brushing your teeth…
  4. Don’t Wash Your Bath Towels Every Day. You’re clean when you exit the shower, right? So your towel should be too. Try and reuse it a few times before you stick it in the wash. Washing machines can use around 22 gallons per load. Any way you can reduce the number of washes, the better. Plus your towels will last longer too.
  5. Spare a square or two. This tip is not for the faint of stomach. When relieving yourself, try to use as little of toilet paper as possible. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that getting the most out of your toilet paper can really help the reduce the consumption of the vital bathroom accessory. Taking the “minimalist” mindset when using the stuff can go a long way. (Brett’s got a great related article on what to do if/when you run out. Hilarious.)

So there you have it. If you got any tips to conserve while in the bathroom, or the rest of the house for that matter, drop it in the comments. Every little bit helps.

Leave a Comment

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Michael Andersson July 25, 2008, 8:07 am

    I live alone and have found that the

    “If it’s Yellow, let it Mellow
    If it’s Brown, flush it Down”

    works well for me.

    To avoid any unwanted odor, I keep an open bottle of apple cider vinegar on the toilet tank when needed. The vinegar is so powerful that it either creates a really nice aroma or no aroma at all as your yellow mellows!!

    When I have visitors, this rule comes to a halt. . .


  • Adam Kamerer December 24, 2007, 4:05 pm

    Overall nice tips, though I don’t think one should sacrifice quality of life to be environmentally conscious; for example, instead of flushing infrequently, buy an efficient toilet that uses less water — the utilities cost will allow it to pay for itself over time.

    Another environmentally-conscious tip for your bathroom: place a bucket in your shower to collect some of the grey water everytime you wash, then use this water in your garden.

  • Laura November 8, 2007, 3:59 pm

    I live in an old house, with old plumbing… our toilet leaks so we leave the water off until we need to flush. Leaving pee in the toilet is not going to draw gnats, or even really stink because you’re not leaving it for days… just a couple of flushes. And if you’re using less toilet paper (do you really need more than two squares for peeing, or one wet wipe for the other – it’s called folding) it’s not going to stop up your toilet… trust me, if it was going to, my house would be the first. Then, there are always the other water conservation methods other commenter’s mentioned. I’m surprised at how un-willing some people are to do their part to help our planet. To rather ruin the environment than make a change… floors me.

  • Dan October 31, 2007, 11:30 pm

    I think there are a few people leaving comments on here who are slightly too precious…if the noise of brushing your teeth creeps you out, you have issues! No question! It’s important to think about the impact you personally are having on the environment and take responsibility to do something about it. People will love you for it ;-)

  • Jeremy October 31, 2007, 10:50 am

    Nope. No way.

    1) Will draw gnats, stink, etc. How was Mexico when you were implementing this? If I want that, I will move to Mexico.

    2, 3) Maybe, but running the hot water wakes me up and the sound of brushing your teeth without the mellowing sound of water in the background creeps me out!

    4)Ok, but just because I am lazy.

    5)Never, I will wipe till its gone, with as much as it takes. Sometimes, more than others, and those are bad days, but, something you have to deal with :)

  • elizabeth October 16, 2007, 1:57 pm

    I work for Cox Enterprises and saw that you participated in Blog Action Day. I thought you might be interested in visiting The site details Cox’s commitment to the environment and offers tips on how anyone can become eco-friendly.


  • jen_chan, writer October 16, 2007, 8:25 am

    I actually find it strange that there are a lot of people who keep the faucet running while brushing their teeth or washing their face. While I am not obsessive compulsive, I cringe at the sight of a faucet running while nobody’s really using it yet. I even tried to brush my teeth with the faucet on and found myself unable to brush properly. I had to switch it off because I could see the amount of wasted water. Strange, huh?

  • Ted Lemon October 15, 2007, 4:55 pm

    Not flushing is a great way to ruin your plumbing and your septic system. A better choice would be a one-time purchase of a dual-flush toilet, which doesn’t use a whole tank of water for urine, and probably uses a lot less than your current toilet for solid waste, unless you already have a low-flush toilet.

    Then use grey water to fill your toilet tank, as Ibrahim suggests. You don’t need to do it the hair-shirt way – you can set your plumbing up so that when you wash your hands and when you shower, the grey water goes into a storage tank, and then you can feed your toilet tank(s) off of the grey water supply. This doesn’t harm your plumbing or your septic, is clean and sanitary, and probably uses less water than your flush-skipping method.

    Solutions that most people won’t adopt aren’t going to make any difference to the environment. If all the early adopters like you are going the mellow yellow route, sanitary techniques that the other 90% of toilet users could accept will never be widely-enough used to gain any popularity.

    Also, being squeamish when talking about this stuff does nobody any favors. I presume the toilet paper technique you’re describing is the binary fold method. It’s not disgusting – it’s just taboo to discuss. This taboo doesn’t serve us. So: fold it in a square, use it, then fold it again and use it again. Repeat until it’s too small to use, then drop it and start another one if you have to.

    Better still, get a washlet and stop wasting paper entirely.

  • Ibrahim October 15, 2007, 3:12 pm

    another quick tip to reduce the amount of water a flush uses is to fill a bottle (water bottle or otherwise) with sand rocks and water (or anything that will allow it to sink), and put it in the toilet tank (not toilet bowl, the rectangle thing behind it), therefore taking up space and allowing less water needed to fill the tank. You can reduce a flush from 6 gallons to 4 and a half or 5, etc. Excellent technique for the ones who wont “let it mellow”


  • Kristina Richardson October 15, 2007, 2:26 pm

    Everyone can make a difference! If you are passionate about stopping global warming and the environment you should check out this website . Change to CFLs a great way for individual people to really make a difference! You should also check out this site for more ideas on how to help our world!

  • glen October 15, 2007, 12:29 pm

    But pee is sterile! :)

    I know, it’s not for the faint of heart, but reducing flushes is a really easy way to cut back on water consumption.

  • Bailey October 15, 2007, 10:57 am

    Tips #1 and #5 are disgusting – I would rather destroy the environment than follow those two tips…

  • Jon October 15, 2007, 10:51 am

    I’m astonished that people wash their bath towels every day! Man, that’s a lot of work (and a lot of closet space to store!)