There is a certain smell that fills your bathroom when you unwrap a conventional shower curtain from its package.
When you hang a traditional plastic shower curtain, there is a distinctive smell that accompanies the unveiling. Many people consider that toxic smell part of the shower curtain experience, light a scented candle and wait for it to go away. However, when it comes to choosing shower curtains there’s more to this decision than meets the nose. Vinyl shower curtains are made with some nasty chemicals that off-gas, releasing unhealthy vapors into the air even after that “new shower curtain smell” is no longer detectable.
PVC shower curtains are bad for your health and the environment. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is used in the making of soft vinyl-like shower curtains. PVC contains dioxin, phthalates, and chlorine. Dioxin is a carcinogen and is given off when PVC burns or gets hot (how showers, anyone?). It is particularly implicated in breast cancer.
The phthalates in PVC include DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate) and BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate), and they are used to keep the plastic soft when it’s made. Phthalates are implicated in autism, allergies, and reproductive problems (they mimic human hormones). And finally, the chlorine used to make PVC emits toxic vapors.
Eco-Friendly Shower Curtains
So what is a showerer to do? Here are some ideas for eco-friendly, non-toxic shower curtains.
Hemp Shower Curtain
Hemp shower curtains are expensive, but durable. They are said to insulate well, and they are free from synthetic chemical compounds.
Eco-Friendly Bamboo Shower Curtain
It seems there is nothing they can’t make from bamboo these days! The natural mold and mildew resistance of bamboo is attractive to many, as is its durability. A bamboo shower rod would make an attractive completion to the natural look.
Linen Shower Curtains
Naturally water-resistant, the dense fabric of linen makes a good shower curtain. There are quite a few color choices with linen.
Organic Cotton Shower Curtains
Organic cotton is probably the least expensive of the commercially available, eco-friendly shower curtain options. Again, colors and fabrics are quite varied. Just make sure that any cotton curtains are not treated with synthetic chemicals or soft plastics to make them water resistant.
Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Shower Curtain
You may be surprised by what you have at home that could work for a shower curtain. Old sheets are especially conducive to this DIY project. You can also use thin, old bedspreads or coverlets. To hang your homemade shower curtain, you can sew fabric tabs or loops to the top of a sheet, or fold it over the curtain rod and sew along the length of the rod. Then slip the rod through and hang.