Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that Polyvinyl Chloride shower curtains release toxins into the air, environmentally-friendly shower curtains and liners are becoming more popular. The traditional vinyl shower curtain is generally made from PVC, a type of vinyl that contains chlorine. When shopping for your next shower curtain and liner, choose something that won't be a health hazard for you or your family.
PEVA or EVA
Although "PVC" and "vinyl" are often used interchangeably, PVC is a type of vinyl. If the label says "vinyl," most likely you are getting PVC. Manufacturers have begun making shower curtains from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) or Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA), both safe vinyls. These curtains are much cheaper than the organic options and serve as a liner as well. Remember, unless the label states PEVA or EVA, assume that the curtain is made from PVC. These curtains will probably end up in a landfill. Although they aren't toxic, they aren't as good for the environment.
Organic Cotton and Hemp
Organic materials are the best choice, as they are the most environmentally friendly. Organic cotton and hemp shower curtains are naturally water repellent, quick-drying, and mildew-resistant. They offer another environmentally-friendly option. These curtains also can stand alone, acting as a liner. These curtains are a more expensive choice because they are organic and recyclable. Your hemp shower curtain can be washed in a washing machine and hung to dry. Hemp is more water-repellent than cotton; both may benefit by adding a polyester or nylon liner. Hemp curtains generally come in neutral tones, so if you are looking for something colorful, hemp is not the best choice for you.
Polyester is a water-repellent and mildew-resistant fabric. This hotel style curtain also doubles as a liner, comes in several colors, and is relatively affordable. It can be thrown in the washer or dryer and so will be able to be used longer than vinyl curtains. Recycled polyester is even better, but it is more expensive.
Nylon is not the most environmentally friendly option, but it is PVC-free, lightweight, waterproof, and machine washable. If you are going to use an organic cotton or hemp curtain, a nylon liner would be an inexpensive way to add further protection for an expensive curtain.
Depending on the shape of your bathtub, installing a sliding door may be impossible. It is an excellent choice for the environment, since a door will last a long time and save water by not going in the laundry machine. Although it may cost more than a curtain, if you add up how many shower curtain and liners you will buy in your lifetime, a sliding door is probably the most affordable option in the long run.