If you are anything like me you are a busy person that doesn’t really have that much time alone or to yourself so your shower is like a haven for retreat. You enjoy the silence, the warmth, the soothing rhythm of the water as it beats down on you, and the wonderful smell of a carefully selected body wash. It is the one place that I can truly think and decompress. I never really gave much thought to the curtain that provided me a modest amount of privacy in case someone walked in on me. However, I did notice if it started to get a little funky and needed to be replaced. I would spend hours looking at all of the different designs and price trying to find that perfect mix of cute and inexpensive. I typically went with one of the printed plastic kind so that I didn’t have to buy a liner as well.
This worked well for me until recently when I started looking at buying a new shower curtain and wanted to make sure my decision was more in line with my goals for living greener. So I did a bit of research looking for a shower curtain that was eco-friendly. What I found out about my current shower curtain was more than a little disturbing.
Currently the most common type of shower curtains are made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This particular compound can release harmful toxins into the air especially when heated. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice states that the chemicals are released in the most concentration when the product is first opened and for the following month after use. High heat conditions increase the release of the toxins. I’m not sure about all of you but some days the hotter the better is my shower preference. The other big concern is also that PVC can not be adequately recycled meaning that most products end up in the landfill or worse end up at recycling plants contaminating entire bins of recyclables. The code #3 means that it contains PVC and should have special consideration for recycling.
You can find the article by CHEJ here. You can also check out the study that CHEJ did here. The study lists all of the toxins that can be released from PVC products and what the consequences of exposure maybe.
The government does not feel that the exposure or the toxins released is anything to be concerned with that exposure is negligible and not enough to change manufacturing standards. I can agree that exposure is probably small on an individual exposure basis but what I’m more concerned with is continued small dose exposure over time. Our life is so filled with chemical attacks shouldn’t we do everything we can to limit the exposure that we can when we can?
I know for me and my family we have decided to phase out pvc where we can and we started with our shower curtain. The good news is that the major retailers are catching on and offering pvc free shower curtains at reasonable prices. You can check out the following retailers to help you make the switch:
- Wal-Mart PEVA shower curtains starting at $10.00
- Target PEVA shower curtain $15.00
- IKEA shower curtains for $4.00 (all selections are pvc free as they phased out pvc shower curtains 11 years ago)
You can also chose cotton or hemp shower curtains but need to be more cautious with mold for those options and you typically need a liner. The other option of course is glass doors or a walk-in shower that does not require a curtain.
So What Can I Do?
- Change out your shower curtain to a non-pvc style to limit your exposure. If you shower curtain is more than a month old the exposure is less of a risk so you can probably just wait until it’s time to replace before buying a new one.
- Limit your purchase of PVC products to not only limit exposure but limit waste since they don’t recycle well. Be on the look out for the number 3 on the products recycle code and make sure you don’t mix it with your standard recyclables. Check with Earth 911 to find local centers that handle #3 materials.
- Become aware! I learn more and more each day on what I’m really being exposed to on a day to day basis and it amazes me. I know some of it may just be hype but knowledge is power and I want to be powerful and help you be powerful as well. Informed consumers are a force that can help to make change possible.