Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mmmm... I love the smell of PVC in the morning!

So when my husband and I redecorated the bathroom. We had promised ourselves that we were done with plastic shower curtains. They are hard to clean, get stained and just didn't fit our aesthetic anymore. So we bought a beautiful cotton, retro, paisley dream of a curtain and loved it from the beginning... But it was only meant to be an outside curtain, was not waterproof, so we bought a dollar store liner.

Without thinking about it, we waited, as with every other plastic shower curtain we had bought in the past, for the horrible smell of brand new liner to go away and finally it did and all was well. That is, until I stumbled onto a Los Angeles Times article from last June that made my hair stand on end.

Turns out that a study done by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice on 5 different unopened polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic shower curtains bought at major department stores found that they all contained high concentrations of toxic volatile organic compounds that have been linked to many health issues including liver damage, central nervous system damage, respiratory and reproductive system damage and cancer. According to this study, one of the curtains tested released as many as 108 of these dangerous compound and they stayed in the ambient air, lingering, for several months.

If you are interested in getting more facts, please go and download this fact sheet from

Now what are our alternatives?

Well after this, the first thing we did was to go in search of a cloth liner. Having read online about organic cotton curtains and all, we started wondering how waterproof they would be. We wanted to be eco-friendly, but still wanted our shower liner to be functional.

We ended up finding this great this great Hotel Fabric Shower Liner for only 10$. But it was made from polyester and my first reaction was "That's not eco-friendly?" Or is it???

According to an article on Digital, turns out that polyester is not as contrary to a green life as one may think. Although polyester in its production uses more energy than cotton because of the transformation the materials have to go through, once the product is made, it uses a fraction of the energy for the upkeep.

Lets say we take cotton (taking for granted that at this point, we have picked a fabric made from organic cotton that has not been heavily spread with pesticides through out its growing cycle) : Clothes and products made from cotton will need to be washed at higher temperature water, will need to be tumbled dried for longer, will often need to be ironed, and will have a shorter life span than a polyester blend. Most polyblends are made to wash in cold water and can be hung to dry, drying in less time, do not wrinkle, and in such cases as a shower curtain, will last forever.

Now don't get me wrong : I LOVE natural fabrics. But in trying to make my home a greener place but keep it efficient and simple, I think this may be a nice alternative.

Hope this was enjoyable for you guys and keep aware!