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When undertaking any remodeling project, it’s important to consider the impact of your choices in materials, fixtures and other elements on the environment and on your health. Eco-friendly options don’t have to bust your budget, in fact, they often save you money. To get the most bang for eco-conscious buck, work with an experienced green building contractor for the best knowledge and options for your bathroom remodel. When you’re going green, you’ll want to keep the following elements in mind:
1. Lighting – Make the switch to all-LED lighting. LED lighting lasts longer, costs less and doesn’t give off heat that can warp or discolor light fixtures over time. Also, be sure to choose Energy Star light fixtures to save as much money as possible on your future utility bills.
2. VOC-Free Paints and Finishes – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that slowly release into the air you breathe – a process that can sometimes continue for years after the paint dries! Some VOCs used in paints and finishes are known to cause cancer. VOCs can also trigger or worsen allergy and asthma symptoms. There are more and more VOC-free options available every day so be sure to tell your contractor no VOCs.
3. Sustainable or Reclaimed Flooring – You can be green on every surface in your bathroom, even under your feet. If you prefer tile, there are literally dozens of tile options made from recycled materials in all different colors and sizes. If you want to try something a little more adventurous, check out cork, bamboo, reclaimed wood or eco-friendly concrete.
4. Eco-Friendly Cabinets – Eco-friendly cabinets are cabinet options that avoid glues or materials containing VOCs or cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde. Check out formaldehyde-free solid wood options (particularly FSC Certified wood), recycled or reclaimed wood, bamboo or recycled concrete. FSC Certified wood is from companies who have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for strictly following sustainable wood harvesting guidelines. Avoid plywood, particle board or pressed wood cabinets as these options are more likely to have glues containing formaldehyde that release into your home for years after installation.
5. Green Countertop / Sink Top – There are a number of eco-friendly sink /countertop options for your bathroom. A number of those options are made from recycled materials such as glass, concrete or even paper. Other options incorporate reclaimed wood, steel and reused / recycled tiles.
6. RECYCLE – While building material debris is not usually recycled, there are plenty of other items from your old bathroom that could be reused by other people. When possible, avoid letting items in good condition get sent to a landfill. Instead offer them up for free (or even for sale) in online local marketplace groups. Such items might include your old vanity, sink, toilet, faucets, light fixtures and cabinet hardware.
Making eco-conscious choices for your bathroom remodel is good for the earth and for your budget. Going green in your powder room is easier and more affordable than ever.