The greatest danger in the shower these days may not be running into Anthony Perkins with a butcher knife, but your new vinyl shower curtain. The EPA and Environmental Health and Justice have come clean, this PVC product is laden with 108 volatile organic compounds, poisonous chemicals that off-gas into the air and can persist for the first 28 days while the curtain hangs in your home. Nice … that just out of the pack, shower curtain smell can be toxic.
But we’ve got good news. You don’t need to break the bank or pollute your air, water and body while replacing that vinyl, moldy mess.
One great option is a shower curtain made from PEVA. This bath choice is non-vinyl (PVC-free), chlorine-free, biodegradable and affordable. Available from IKEA for only $1.79-9.99 or VitaFutura ($29-44, depending on design). VitaFutura’s wide array includes playful graphics for little kids or mod geometrics for big kids (above). PEVA curtains are also lightweight, easy to clean, and they don’t require a liner.
Other safe and natural shower curtain choices are: organic cotton, hemp, bamboo or linen. Extra perks for hemp, it’s anti-microbial, doesn’t need a liner, and it’s really durable so it’ll last. Even plain old conventionally grown cotton is a better choice than vinyl. At least you can wash any these natural fabrics and keep reusing them for as long as you like. Whereas non-washable, mildewed vinyl needs replacing every year or two and just winds up in a landfill for a very long time.
If you do opt for natural fiber and need a liner – there are your typical synthetic options like nylon (the lesser of 2 evils because at least you can wash it) or polyester, but both are made from petroleum. An even better choice would be a recycled polyester liner (which may also serve as a curtain). But if all of this is just too much — live in a warm climate and hose yourself off outside, (I kid, of course). Or install sliding glass doors in your bath and do away with curtains or liners altogether.
To keep things easy, in addition to VitaFuture and IKEA, here are a few more places that stock good green shower curtains:
- amazon.com has a bunch of inexpensive curtains and designs
- wide selection, hemp/organic cotton/cotton @ pristineplanet
- flax-based linen ($59) @ gaiam
- organic cotton ($44) – online only @ west elm (check out the new ECO liner, $12)
- chlorine-free & PVC-free ($14.99 & up) @ rockcandylife.com
Related: also on The Alternative Consumer: