Is it possible to design a bathroom you don’t have to destroy just to replace the units? A sustainably-designed bathroom, in other words?
I’ve got my own bathroom issues. We moved into a five-year-old house in 2015 and it didn’t take long to realise we’d want to replace the bathrooms. I know I’m spoilt but my idea of a great bathroom doesn’t match the builder’s.
We discuss the options with a local bathroom fitter:
“Hmm. You’ll have to pull up all the tiles I’m afraid”
“WHAT??! you serious?”
(Over the years they learn to master the sympathetic voice when speaking of the enormous costs coming your way.)
That’s the problem. To replace one fixture, the whole lot usually has to go. Designs go out of fashion. Tiles get damaged and cannot be replaced. Grout gets discoloured and grubby.
My vision is to build a bathroom you don’t have to dismantle just to freshen it up. But how to get there?
Rebuilding a bathroom you don’t need to is not eco-friendly. According to WRAP, a UK-based organisation promoting waste reduction and recycling, construction materials in the UK account for:
- 19% of the national ecological footprint
- 23% of the national greenhouse gas emissions
- 420m tonnes of material consumption
- 30% of all road freight
It’s the building trade that has to green up, and we can help it.
What does a sustainable bathroom look like?
What would my sustainable bathroom look like? I mean conceptually?
- It would be modular so we could change only those bits we want to, rather than having to redo the whole bathroom
- Materials would be local, so no need to transport them for miles in huge trucks on motorways
- Materials would be low-impact, so would fixtures and fittings, adhesives etc.
- The materials, fixtures and fittings could be recycled, better still taken back and used again, for another building project perhaps
- Things would last longer, so we wouldn’t have to keep replacing them
- Things would be easy to fit so you could even have a go yourself
Alternatives? There’s natural plaster. Natural plaster is made from materials like clay that don’t have to be mined. It can be 100% waterproof. It doesn’t have to be painted. It can be easily patched up if it gets damaged. It looks beautiful.
If you’re interested in Tadelakt here’s a starter: https://permaculturenews.org/2015/01/02/the-art-and-practice-of-tadelakt/
Or, to be exact, cob/strawbale/adobe/clay in this case.
If you can’t face giving up wall tiles how about recycled tiles? Fellow eco-blogger Lisa Cole from www.less-stuff.co.uk created this stunning mosaic around her bath from broken tiles a tile shop were giving away.
Says Lisa: “When I first moved into my house the bathroom looked like an office! It had a lowered suspended ceiling with florescent lights behind it and it was all grey. There was a tiny grey cracked plastic corner bath and dark grey tiles. Luckily the wall tiles were mostly over wallpaper so it was easy to remove them!”