Eco bathrooms: a guide to baths and basins

Sustainable designs that don't compromise on performance or style

By Paula Woods | 23 June 2022

Reducing energy use and saving water is the name of the game when designing an eco bathroom, since energy bills are on the up and climate change is a real concern. Look for greywater recycling options and baths that retain heat for longer. And limiting the carbon footprint of a refurbishment project is helped by choosing a bath and basin made with recycled, reclaimed or natural materials.

Eco-friendly bathroom sinks

Promote environmental health

The hi-tech anti-microbial finishes reduces the amount of cleaning and cleaning products needed. This equal washstand and ceramic basin with Hygiene glaze, costs around £1,360, and the tall unit is priced at £1,219, Vitra.

Ecobathroom basin with light up mirror in spacious bathroom

Photo: Vitra

When less is better

Some eco bathrooms sanitaryware manufacturers have developed new finer ceramics that are both lightweight and zero-waste, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions. This Inspira Soft on countertop basin in Fineceramic, costs from around £335.91, Roca.

Eco bathroom basin in wooden bathroom with white porcelain sink

Photo: Roca

Nothing going to waste

Get the look of stone with a stone composite made using recycled waste material. It’s as durable as the real thing, heat retentive and repairable. An example is the Koto oval basin, £575, Claybrook Studio.

Eco bathrooms basin on white tiled background

Photo: Claybrook Studio

Due diligence

Check manufacturers’ websites to assess their sustainability statements, and favour those taking steps to reduce both production and product carbon footprints. This Arlo pedestal basin, made from recycled sand and aggregate is a great example, £4,460, from UK-based Formed.

Stone eco bathroom basin in blue

Photo: Formed

Opt for a futureproof design

Greywater recycling has its place, such as with this basin and loo combo. The waste water from the basin is filtered and used to fill the cistern, reducing use by up to 25 per cent. This design in W+W in vitreous china is a perfect choice, £4,495.47, Roca.

Eco bathroom basin on wooden background

Photo: Roca

Using every last piece

Embedded stone chips give terrazzo its distinctive appearance, and are a good way to use up offcuts that might otherwise go to waste. This example is made with marble pieces and a resin-free binding material, it’s called the Unik washbasin, £269, Tikamoon.

Patterned eco bathroom basin with silver taps and wooden surface

Photo: Tikamoon

Capture carbon

Waterproof timber composites formulated with recycled wood waste are also recyclable. This design is made from 80 per cent wood chips using locally sourced timber and forestry waste, and follows carbon-neutral production practices. This cube tabletop basin in Natural, costs from around £335, Woodio.

Eco bathroom basin made from mixed materials

Photo: Woodio

Is it certified?

Trees store carbon, which is retained in the timber as long as it doesn’t decay or burn. Look for designs for eco bathrooms made with wood from responsibly managed forests like the Bianco FSC-certified basin in solid ash, £3,000, Indigenous.

Wooden shallow-dip sink with chrome tap and dark walls

Photo: Indigenuous

Eco-friendly bathtubs

Responsible innovation

Ensure designs made with composite materials include recycled and recyclable content. Some have a twin wall construction with an air space between that keeps water warm for longer. One such design is the Dune Aquatex solid surface bath, which costs from £4,547, Aquatica.

contemporary freestanding wash basin in white porcelain with freestanding tap

Photo: Aquatica

Pass it on

When renovating, sell or give away the sanitaryware and fittings you are replacing. Buying new? Consider models made with recycled and recyclable steel. This classic Duo oval double-ended bath made from 20 per cent recycled steel enamel and 100 per cent recyclable, available in three sizes from £1,999, Kaldewei.

industrial-style bathroom with monochrome bath, wide pane glass windows and wooden flooring

Photo: Kaldewei

Bath for life

Buy once and buy well is a good mantra. Invest in a durable and repairable cast iron bath and it will last a lifetime. Even better, look for manufacturers using recycled metal. Le Grand cast iron bath, manufactured in Kent using 100 per cent raw recycled iron, costing from £7,200, Catchpole & Rye.

Cast iron freestanding bath

Photo: Catchpole & Rye

Hold onto the heat

To keep water warmer for longer and avoid costly top-ups, choose materials that retain heat well. Copper is particularly thermally efficient and has natural antibacterial properties. This handcrafted Copper Boat bath, costs from £4,449.06 for a model from BC Designs.

Copper freestanding bath tub with monochrome chevron tiles and dark green wall panelling

Photo: BC Designs

Make use of old plastic

Durat is a solid surface material made with recycled postindustrial plastics collected from manufacturing and waste management facilities. It is non-porous and anti-microbial. An example of this material being used is in the Durat Design Collection bath, prices start from around £5,000, Surface Matter.

White bath tub in neutral bathroom scheme

Photo: Surface Matter

Apply with care

Tadelakt is a waterproof plaster wallcovering made of natural materials that can also be used for basins and baths. For best results, it should be applied by an experienced professional. This bespoke bathroom, designed by Mark Lewis Interior Design. Tadelakt London can supply and install finishes, from £150 per sqm.

Eco bathrooms marble bath tub

Photo: Mark Lewis Interior Design

Reclaim the past

Opt for vintage pieces from reputable suppliers. ‘Ensure reclamation yards and dealers are signed up to the Salvo Code,’ advises Sara Morel, CEO at Salvo. Bathroom designed by Nicola Harding & Co. Antique basin, The Water Monopoly. Washstand in Smoked Trout, Farrow & Ball. Vintage bath in Deep Water Green, Paint & Paper Library.

Colourful eco bathrooms scheme with freestanding bath and basin

Photo: Nicola Harding & Co

Water source: eco-friendly taps

Advice on taps for eco bathrooms by Paul Bailey, leader product management at Grohe UK:

  • Invest in quality brassware to ensure it won’t need to be replaced for many years. Seek out taps with built-in flow limiters and aerators to save water and energy without affecting performance.
  • Designs certified by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) conform to British regulation standard.
  • Cold-start taps are designed to provide only cold water when first turned on, which forces you to make a conscious decision to select hot.
  • Infrared taps activated by your hands prevent water from being left running unnecessarily. Infrared technology can also be teamed with flow limiters.
  • To identify low-impact, recyclable designs check for Cradle to Cradle certification. This signifies that they can be broken down and reused to create new products at the end of their lives.
  • Schemes such as European Water Label and Waterwise Recommended Checkmark indicate products’ water consumption and energy efficiency.

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