Sustainable sanctuary: 6 steps to an eco-friendly bathroom renovation

In this post: we explore how to undertake an eco-friendly bathroom renovation and get inspired by a gorgeous example from Alex Shield Design! (image above courtesy of Alex Shield Design)

The Home Green is reader-supported and may receive a commission if you decide to purchase through a posted link, at no cost to you. 

Your bathroom is one of the most important spaces in your home. Ideally, it serves as a well-functioning space to help you prepare for the day and a private sanctuary to recharge at the end of it. It’s no surprise, then, that a bathroom renovation is high on many people’s home improvement wish lists.

Despite their relatively small size, bathrooms can significantly impact the budget and environmental footprint of your home. Luckily, there are some places where budget and sustainability intersect to help you save some green. By considering how you can create a more eco-friendly bathroom, you just might help reduce both renovation and utilities costs.

In this article

Step 1: Planning your eco-friendly bathroom renovation

All renovation projects should start with some careful planning. Analyze your current bathroom setup, identifying areas that need improvement, and establishing a clear vision of what you want to achieve. 

If you’ve just moved into a new-to-you home, it’s often a good idea to live in it for a while and see how you use the space before investing in renovations so that you can make sure you're certain what’s going to be best set up for your needs and lifestyle. Consider the age of your fixtures, the materials they are made of, and their water and energy efficiency levels. 

At the same time, it’s helpful to review design magazines and websites, especially if you’re not exactly sure what your favorite style is. By bookmarking and saving your favorite bathroom designs, you’ll likely start to see some trends over time that will help you narrow in on the best design for your bathroom renovation.

Define your green goals

Next, decide on what you want to achieve with your eco-friendly bathroom renovation. You get a gold star for including this in your project criteria and the good news is that there are so many ways to make a renovation more eco-friendly without sacrificing a style that you’ll love for a long time.

Some areas to consider include using more sustainable materials, reducing water consumption, minimizing energy usage, and thinking about the healthfulness of your renovation for the people who will be living in the space. Having clear goals and priorities will help guide your decisions throughout the renovation process.

Step 2: Select sustainable materials

The materials you choose for your bathroom renovation play a significant role in its eco-friendliness and how healthy it is for you. These are some of our favorite ways to incorporate sustainability into a bathroom renovation.

Reuse what you have

  • Are some of your fixtures still in good shape? Is it possible to reuse your toilet, sink, or other fixtures? If so, you’ll save a ton of money and some space in a landfill.
  • Could a repair or fresh coat of paint salvage something you don’t love right now? Maybe a new countertop could refresh a dated vanity? Get a little creative, or invite your creative friend over for a brainstorm.
  • Do you know someone with leftover materials from their renovation? Anyone who’s been through a renovation project knows that materials are usually over-ordered, so much so that there may even be enough for a smaller second project.

Hunt for reclaimed materials

  • Local or online secondhand furniture sources often get bathroom materials. Your local consignment or Habitat for Humanity Restore is a great place to scope out. Online, sites like AptDeco can be a great source for lights and other fixtures. Another hidden gem is Renovation Angel who resells gently used kitchens and bathrooms.
  • A piece of furniture repurposed as a vanity is one of my favorite eco-friendly bathroom solutions. It can add so much character to your space and is more sustainable than adding a new piece of furniture to the world.
  • Reclaimed materials, such as an antique bathtub or repurposed wood fixtures, can add character to your bathroom while reducing its environmental impact. They can be refinished to look new, blending seamlessly with your modern bathroom design.

Recycled tiles

Recycled tiles made from materials like glass and porcelain are an excellent choice for eco-friendly bathrooms. They are not only sustainable but also add a unique charm and texture to your space.  A few of our favorite suppliers for recycled tiles include Clay Imports and Fireclay Tile – see some examples of their gorgeous products below. 

eco-friendly bathroom renovation with colorful tile floor

Image courtesy of Grey Dove Designs, photo by ohhh_snapp

eco-friendly bathroom renovation project with recycled tile

Image courtesy of Clay Imports

blue recycled tile in sustainable bathroom renovation

Image courtesy of Clay Imports

Opt for non-toxic paint

Traditional paints can release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Opt for no-VOC paints, which are safer for both you and the environment. While many of the best-known brands feature low and no-voc paint, one of our favorites is ECOS paint. If you know the color you’re looking for, they can do a custom match for you. And if you’re not quite sure, they have hundreds of colors and shades and samples can be ordered from the comfort of your home and shipped right to your door.

Step 3: Look for sustainable bathroom accessories

Sustainability doesn't stop after construction. There are many ways you can incorporate eco-friendly decor elements into your new bathroom through the finishing touches.

Plants in your eco-friendly bathroom renovation

Plants not only add a touch of nature to your bathroom but also improve air quality. Opt for plants that thrive in humid conditions, like ferns or spider plants, and be sure to consider the plant's toxicity if you have small children or pets. To learn more about the best plants for your situation, check out our full articles on plants and planters.

Consider sustainable textiles

Towels, bathmats and runners are all places where sustainable options abound. Look for items that have third-party certifications of sustainability such as OEKO-TEX, GREENGUARD, or Fair Trade certifications. For more information, see our full article that will help you sort through the differences and what certifications to look for when you're shopping.

Case study: an eco-friendly bathroom renovation from Alex Shield Design

In case you still have doubts that an eco-friendly bathroom renovation can also be beautiful, we think this example from Alex Shield Design just might change your mind. Alex has a traditional interior design background but the amount of waste she saw every day as a part of her job didn’t sit right with her. She decided to take a different approach to designing beautiful homes and is leading the way in using a little creativity to design gorgeous, sustainable spaces.

sustainable bathroom renovation with round mirror, white sink and blue tile backsplash

One of her favorite projects was a stunning and eco-friendly bathroom renovation for a client who was very environmentally conscious but didn’t know how to bring sustainability into a home renovation project. Budget and aesthetics were also important factors in this project and the client was concerned that she would have to compromise on one aspect of her design. Alex wasn’t about to let that happen. She started by repurposing materials and built out her stunning design from there. In her own words:

“It all started with a tile. My client fell in love with a beautiful floor tile, which was leftover from a family member's renovation. There was just enough left to complete the floor in their small bathroom!”

oil rubbed bronze faucet in eco-friendly bathroom renovation

All of the plumbing fixtures used were WaterSense certified. When a product or service is WaterSense certified, it means that it meets specific criteria established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for water efficiency and performance. 

recycled glass, repurposed rope and shells accessorizing eco-friendly bathroom renovation

These beautiful bathroom accessories were made using natural and recycled materials, were handcrafted, or repurposed from other areas in their home.

eco-friendly bathroom renovation with cream shower tile and white curtain

The shower tile was LEED-certified and contains recycled content. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it's a green building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

All images courtesy of Alex Shield Design.

Step 4: Design with light in mind

Natural light not only makes your bathroom look more spacious and inviting but also reduces the need for artificial lighting, which can save energy. Plus, it’s amazing how much natural light can impact your mental wellbeing. If your bathroom doesn't get much natural light, consider installing a skylight. This will provide plenty of daylight and can even help to heat your bathroom naturally.

Step 5: Choosing eco-friendly bathroom features

Beyond appearance, there are many ways design a more eco-friendly bathroom by considering it’s its features. From water-saving fixtures to energy-efficient lighting, every element should contribute to sustainability.

Water-saving fixtures are a key part of an eco-friendly bathroom

Water conservation is an important consideration in a green bathroom. Installing low-flow toilets, which use significantly less water per flush compared to conventional models, is an easy choice in a new bathroom. Similarly, water-saving showerheads and faucets can reduce your water usage which is great for the planet and your wallet. Looking for the WaterSense certification is a great way to be sure that you're making a great choice.

Install energy-efficient lighting for a more sustainable bathroom

Proper lighting is essential in a bathroom. While traditional lighting fixtures can consume a lot of energy, LED lights are a great alternative since they are more energy-efficient and also last longer.

Consider smart plumbing solutions for your eco-friendly bathroom renovation

Home automation is increasingly being used to enhance a bathroom's environmental performance. Smart plumbing solutions, such as leak-detection systems and solar-powered water heaters, can significantly increase your bathroom's sustainability.

Step 6: Choose eco-friendly bathroom products

The products you use in your bathroom also contribute to its overall sustainability and healthfulness for you and your family.

Use non-toxic and sustainable personal care products

There’s no reason sustainability has to stop at the design! Opt for personal care products that are eco-friendly, too. There are more great choices available than ever, with brands increasingly using natural ingredients and sustainable packaging. Some great options include bar soap instead of body wash, shampoo, and conditioner, and shave bars instead of liquid versions in cans or plastic bottles. If you aren’t quite ready to make the switch to bars just yet, look for products in recycled plastic bottles or aluminum bottles that are more likely to be recycled after use.

Bamboo is another great material to look for when it comes to personal care products. These days, there are bamboo versions of many staples like toothbrushes and razors which can reduce your single-use plastic consumption.

Opt for green cleaning supplies in your eco-friendly bathroom renovation

Use green cleaning supplies to keep your bathroom spotless in a more sustainable way. Many natural ingredients, like vinegar and baking soda, can be just as effective as commercial cleaners at a fraction of the cost.

Maintain your eco-friendly bathroom renovation

Finally, maintaining your eco-friendly bathroom is as important as creating it. Regular cleaning and upkeep will ensure that your bathroom continues to be a sustainable space for years to come.

In conclusion, an eco-friendly bathroom renovation is a worthwhile investment that benefits both you and the environment. With thoughtful planning and sustainable choices, you can create a green bathroom that is functional, stylish, and eco-conscious.

Other articles related to eco-friendly bathroom renovation projects

Free tips and inspiration in your inbox

Enter your email address below to receive the latest news from The Home Green. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *