How Green is Your Restroom?

July 16, 2001
Tips to create cost-effective, sustainable design

Creating an environmentally responsible restroom is a laudable goal that can often be achieved without a great deal of effort. By choosing the right systems and products, you cannot only reduce waste, but cut costs as well. Another benefit of "going green" is a positive impact on environmentally concerned tenants.

Following are several suggestions on how to create a "greener" restroom:

  • Purchase high-performance products. Superior-performing products require less source material to handle a desired task and can, therefore, reduce the amount of waste generated. For example, a high-quality, concentrated floor cleaner will last longer as less cleaner (hence, less cost) is needed to do the job.
  • Look for quality products that offer controlled dispensing to cut waste. For example, switching from a C-fold to a roll towel can reduce usage, cost, and towel waste. In addition, if your folded towel system isn't working properly - dispensing several towels at a time or tabbing when people reach for a single towel - the system is creating more waste because more towels are dispensed than are actually needed.

If roll towels aren't the answer for your facility, consider a folded towel system that dispenses one towel at a time every time.
Another environmentally responsible choice is a no-touch towel system, which dispenses a pre-measured towel sheet, thereby reducing consumption and waste. No-touch soap systems, which provide pre-measured, automatic delivery of soap, also help reduce waste by reducing usage through controlled dispensing.

Select high-capacity products and systems. High-capacity products are another important way of reducing waste. Try purchasing bulk-packaged cleaning products, which dramatically reduce container waste. High-capacity bathroom tissue systems can also reduce waste.

  • An enclosed bathroom tissue system (such as a towel dispenser) that dispenses one premium two-ply sheet of tissue at a time also offers a high-capacity alternative to standard roll tissue.
  • Reuse products when possible. Items that can be reused should be. Trash liners in wastebaskets may be reused rather than replaced each day.
  • Find out where your building's waste paper is going. Some recycling companies are pairing up with personal care paper manufacturers to turn office writing paper waste into new restroom paper products. This is known as cradle-to-grave or closed-loop recycling, where a product is recycled and returned to the source where it originated.
  • Purchase products with reduced heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and other chemicals whenever possible.
  • Use contained cleaning systems. Contained cleaning systems also reduce VOC emissions and the possibility of hazardous chemical spills.
  • Conserve energy. Use more energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.
  • Install no-touch faucets. No-touch faucets, which are activated by an infrared sensor and automatically shut off after use, can help conserve water.

Adopting all or some of these guidelines helps the environment and aids you in reducing usage, waste, and costs.

John W. Fowler is Office Building Segment manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional (, based in Roswell, GA.

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