Shower curtains are made from PVC, a hard thermoplastic made from chlorine and carbon, PVC is made softer and more flexible by the addition of toxins, phthalates, which off-gas VOCs into the home, which we also inhale, it's why switching to Eco-Friendly Shower Curtains is better for you and the planet.
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The Probelm with Plastic Shower Curtains
We don't typically think of our shower curtain as being toxic or having a negative impact on the environment, it's one of those things we buy because we need it and don't give much more thought to it. But if you want to reduce chemicals in your home and your exposure to them, a sustainable shower curtain is a great place to start.
A study from 2008 that examined PVC shower curtains (sold at major retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart) found that the curtains “contain avoidable toxic chemicals including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, organotins, and metals.”
The research also highlighted the fact that a PVC curtain can release up to 108 VOCs. VOCs that you are breathing in when you stand in the shower.
We know that plastic is super durable and it keeps the floor dry but we also know it has unbelievable detrimental effects on our planet. On The Eco Hub, I talk about plastic A LOT!
Plastic shower curtains can't be recycled and if you own one, you know you've had to replace it many many times thanks to grime and mold build-up at the bottom of it. So it ends up in the garbage, filling our landfills and polluting our soil and water. It also costs you money, think about how many times you've had to replace yours. It adds up.
We also need to take the manufacturing of these items into account. Yes, the toxins we are exposed to are of paramount importance but the extraction of virgin fossil fuels to make plastic is another aspect to consider when switching to more eco-friendly shower curtains.
When this report was released it retailers like IKEA, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target looked to offer other alternatives to PVC, many of them turning to polyethylene or polyethylene vinyl acetate. Both still plastic but without the phthalates. So yes, there are fewer toxins, but like PVC these cant be recycled and we tend to have to replace them over and over again, so they still have a pretty huge environmental impact.
How To Choose Eco-friendly Shower Curtains
When it comes to eco-friendly bathroom shower curtains materials matter. Like with ethical fashion best to opt for materials like organic cotton, linen, hemp, jute and bamboo (just make sure it's actually sustainable). If you are ever not sure, look for third-party certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX 100. And never ever be afraid to ask the brand directly, transparency is key! Natural fabrics are biodegradable, meaning they break down, unlike plastic.
A lot of my readers complain that fabric shower curtains don't keep the water from going everywhere, so when choosing the best eco-friendly shower curtains, you want to take functionality into account too.
To reduce mildew and mould in your bathroom make sure it's well ventilated and has a fan. Eco-friendly fabric shower curtains can be washed, unlike their plastic counterparts.
For this post, I chose brands that I know and love. Ones that take ethical manufacturing into account, ones that treat their workers with care and ones that take the environmental impact into account too. And of course, as always I try to focus on Canadian companies so you, my dear reader, do not have to pay shipping, duties, taxes etc.
Best Eco-Friendly Shower Curtains
Dream Designs 100% hemp shower curtain is made in Canada. I love hemp, it stays fresh longer than cotton, it's so durable, it's machine washable (cold or lukewarm water, at least twice a month) hang to dry in the bathroom, it's tightly woven to repel water naturally. You will not need a plastic liner with this curtain. These also come in a range of really pretty colours and are adorable at $109. Use the code THEECOHUB for 10% off.
Dream Designs has been creating organic natural home goods for 38 years. I guess you could call them the OG of sustainable goods in Canada. They are based out of Vancouver. All of their organic materials, including fabrics, batting, and towels, are certified by GOTS and OEKO-TEX to ensure strict environmental and social standards.
For anything that is sourced outside of Canada, they work with trusted overseas partners that meet North American labour standards.
If hemp is not your style they also offer a linen shower curtain that is made from 100% natural linen canvas. Also tightly woven so no water gets through. They recommend you wash this curtain once a week and let it air dry in the bathroom. Linen is very light and breathable and offers a really pretty aesthetic for a bathroom. The cost is $109. Use the code THEECOHUB for 10% off.
Rawganique is another Canadian ethical company that I simply love. They have been my go-to for many sustainable items for my home. They offer a wide range of eco-friendly items from women's/men's clothing (like tees and summer sandals) to accessories like socks and bath items, including of course ethically made shower curtains.
You can choose from two types of shower curtains. Their organic cotton shower curtains ($109) are made with 100% organic cotton canvas. This is as pure as it gets, they grow, comb, spin, weave, knit, and sew them, so they know what goes in (and doesn’t go in) to all of their organic products. Choose from three gorgeous colours, natural, Earth brown & brown. Also, love the fact that they offer a long eco-friendly shower curtain. Make sure the curtain is kept dry by turning on the bathroom fan after your shower.
Their hemp shower curtain ($99) comes in 16 colours. I want them all! They are made from 100% organic European hemp. They are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, plastic-free, metal-free,
sweatshop-free, and vegan. Washing the curtain every few weeks helps prevent the buildup of soap residues, which are clogging the fibre openings and causing mould to start.
Rawganique is known well in the green world, they really take sustainability to a whole new level. Their sweatshop-free products are also GMO-free, pesticide-free, formaldehyde-free, PVC-free, dioxin-free. No heavy metals, no acids, no caustic soda (the common ingredient in hemp manufacturing in China and India -- the hemp is broken down with acids and caustic soda, then spun like cotton).
Au Lit Fine Linens is a Canadian bed and bath company that was founded in 1981. They source all of their all-natural fabrics from Europe and then hand-craft each item here in Canada in their own factories.
Their mills are all certified and comply with The Global Organic Textile Standard [GOTS]. Their Egyptian and American long-staple cotton is harvested industrially and without exploiting child and forced labour and is 100% natural.
They don't outsource their labour here in Canada, all the sewers are local which helps to reduce their carbon emissions from transportation.
Their cotton waffle shower curtain ($120) is hand-made in Portugal at a family-run mill. They are European REACH compliance, which strictly regulates chemical substances to minimize the potential impact on human health and the earth. This curtain is durable and can be washed in the machine. Are you in the market for sustainable bedding? Take a browse.
Based in the USA, Parachute offers an affordable sustainable shower curtain ($99) made from 100% Flax linen. Their Oeko-Tex certification means their products are safely made without any harmful chemicals, synthetics, or dyes. They source all of their flax from Portugal, where the times are manufactured in a family-owned factory.
Parachute is known for its bedding, mattresses and homewares and offers a wide range of shower curtains as well. I'd stick with the linen as I am not sure if the cotton ones are organic.
The linen shower curtain is medium-to-lightweight, it's recommended you spot clean it or machine wash it in cold water. Like all shower curtains you want to make sure you keep them dry, so again make sure the room is well ventilated and the fan is on. I don't recommend using the dryer for this curtain.
Paracute also partners with the United Nation’s Nothing But Nets campaign to send life-saving malaria-prevention bed nets to those in need. Love this!
Ships to Canada, duties and taxes not included.
Made Trade is one of my top places to shop for ethical home goods, they carry everything from clothing to shoes to rugs and of course eco-friendly shower curtains. They work with artisans worldwide to sell some of the most beautiful handcrafted, sustainable items for your home.
Made Trade is based in the USA all of the items they sell adhere to strict sustainable values including Vegan, women-owned, fair trade, made in the USA and BIPOC owned.
If you are worried about ordering a shower curtain from outside of Canada, they have a carbon offset program which means for all shipping and returns they buy carbon credits that are "generated from funded projects that pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere or avoid the creation of greenhouse gases altogether."
Their organic shower curtains are made from GOTS certified cotton, it's fair trade, vegan, BIPOC made and manufactured responsibly by harvesting raw materials locally and using all-natural, earth-friendly materials (such as plant and mineral-based dyes).
Flat fee shipping rate to Canada, excluding taxes and duties.
This New York-based shop is what an eco home's dreams are made of. Their stonewashed bedding is simply divine. They sell a wide range of sustainable items from rugs to pillows to baskets to decor and of course organic shower curtains.
They travel to each country to meet their artisans in person and sell directly on-line, so no middleman here. It's why their items are so affordable. All artisans are paid a fair wage and all the items are created with sustainable materials and practices.
On their website, you will find a list of their artisans and you can see first hand who makes the items you are buying, I really love this.
Choose from two types of eco-friendly shower curtains ($115), made from 100% cotton that is hand-loomed and handcrafted by a group of 32 master weavers in Kannur, India and made in a fair-trade environment.
Shipping rates are applied based on weight, they do ship to Canada, taxes and duties not included.
Etsy is one of my favourite places to shop, you can always find the cutest handmade, ethical and sustainable items from all over the world. Don't you just love that!
Bean Products Inc. has almost 7000 sales and has been green since 1987. You could call the owner Chuck the OG of green home goods. All of their products are made from Organic Cotton, Hemp, Kapok, Buckwheat hulls, Natural Latex, and Recycled Poly fiber. Find pet beds, yoga mats, pillows and affordable eco-friendly shower curtains, all handmade in the USA. You can even personalize all of the items in their shop.
The shower curtains are made with hemp ($106) and organic cotton ($63). Their Romanian hemp fabric is naturally grown, harvested and old-world processed from the farm to the weaving mill to their sewing factory in Chicago, USA. The cotton is 100% organic and handcrafted and processed without Chlorine Bleach.
Can I buy an eco-friendly shower curtain at a big box store?
Yes, but you need to pay close attention to the third-party certifications that appear on the label. Stores like The Bay, Homesense, Canadian Tire, Target, Bed Bath & and even Wal-Mart do sometimes carry natural and organic items for the home. Look for OEKO-TEX 100, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), these are the most reputable. Some brands use their own generic logos that make it seem like they are sustainable, when in fact they are not, this is a form of greenwashing.
Do shower curtains biodegrade?
Plastic does not biodegrade, it photodegrades. Some PEVA or EVA shower curtains claim to be biodegradable but honestly with plastic being one of the ingredients I am highly suspect of any company that claims this.
Natural fibers like cotton, linen and hemp break down and biodegrade which makes them the better option.
Can you recycle a shower curtain?
This is such an important question. If you have a plastic shower curtain or liner, no it can't be recycled. The same goes for fabric, even if it's all-natural. Fabric shower curtains can't go in the recycling bin either. A lot of people make this mistake. There are very city's (if any) in Canada that accept textiles in their recycling bin. You might find plastic shower curtains that are made from recycled materials, but you still can't recycle them and they are typically still made from old plastic, so I'd avoid them! The best way to get rid of an old shower curtain once it's lived a loooong life is to upcycle it.
How to re-use your old shower curtain:
Cut it up into smaller pieces to use as rags for cleaning around the house;
Use it when you are moving or renovating, can make a really good drop cloth if you're repainting;
Use parts of it to reupholster a pet's bed or use it as stuffing for a pet's bed;
Use it as a table cloth when camping.
How do I prevent mold from growing on my eco-friendly shower curtain?
There is nothing worse than having mould on the bottom of the shower curtain you love and have spent money on. It's the worst! Mold unfortunately is common in most bathrooms because of the moisture content. The most important thing you can do is make sure your bathroom is well ventilated. I talked about this earlier. As soon as you are done showering turn on the exhaust fan. Put a timer on the fan and make sure it runs for at least 30 mins. Also, this might sound weird but it works. Don't leave wet towels in the bathroom to dry, they create more humidity in the room which can increase the risk mold and mildew.
Make sure you open the curtain fully so it can air dry. Don't leave it crumpled together in the middle, mold will grow in the folds if you do.
Wash your curtain at least once a month and follow the manufacturer's directions.
It's a no-brainer that choosing an ethically made fabric shower curtain over its plastic counterpart is better for you and the planet.
It's also one thing you can do to make your bathroom more sustainable. You can also save a ton of water and opt for shampoo bars and ditch plastic bottles once and for all. Looking for more sustainable options for your home? Check out the brand directory.
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