Happy Monday and welcome to the second installment of "The low-impact loo," a special new series of product-centric posts dedicated to a part of the home that's hard to ignore when both nature and Mother Nature call: the bathroom. We spend a good amount of time in the bathroom — most of us start and end our days in there — and it's an easy place to lower your environmental impact in numerous ways without sacrificing an ounce of style or comfort. 


After tackling organic bath linens last week, I'm shifting my attention to another green bathroom biggie: PVC-free shower curtains. A topic that I've written about before, investing in a PVC-free shower curtain or liner is an easy way to improve the indoor air quality of your home ... that is, unless you enjoy spending time in a hot 'n' steamy enclosed room as your shower curtain off-gasses phthalates — a chemical plasticizer linked to a myriad of health concerns including genital deformation, abnormal breast developmentlowered IQs and ADHD in boys; shortened pregnancies in expectant mothers; and damage to the liver, kidney and reproductive system — and a slew of other toxic chemicals.  


Although they'll usually cost you a few bucks more than not-recyclable-because-it's-so-filled-with-toxins PVC vinyl, there are numerous eco-friendlier shower curtains out there to choose from at most major retailers. Most affordable are PEVA and EVA plastic shower curtains which are essentially, in chemistry terms, vinyl but minus the PVC. There are also recyclable, mildew-resistant HDPE plastic shower curtains on the market but they aren't as common as EVA/PEVA varieties. Conventional cotton shower curtains are also a popular — and often classier — alternative to plastics but come with their own eco-downsides so when going the natural fiber shower curtain route, many opt for organic cotton, hemp or linen. 


Below, you'll find a few of my PVC-free shower curtain picks. Have you ditched your vinyl shower curtain yet? 


Indigo Chain Border Shower Curtain @ VivaTerra ($65)


















Linen Shower Curtain @ Gaiam ($58)
















Eco Shower Curtain Liner @ West Elm ($12)















PEVA World Map Shower Curtain @ Izola ($23.97)















Ty D.I.Y. Edition Shower Curtain @ Grain Design ($33)















Robot Toile Shower Curtain @ CB2 ($19.99)















Kikkerland Yellow Submarine Shower Curtain @ Kikkerland ($19.50)















Spinnaker Sail Shower Curtain @ UncommonGoods ($100 - $120)
















Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

The low-impact loo: Shower curtains
Chances are, your bathroom sees enough off-gassing as it is. Ditch the headache-inducing, endocrine-disrupting PVC vinyl shower curtain in favor of one made fro