How to Stop your Shower from Poisoning You

You might not realize it, but every time you shower, you could be exposing yourself, your children, wildlife & the environment to toxic chemicals such as Dioxins, Phthalates & Lead. Is your shower curtain or liner made of the “Poison Plastic”?

“The polymers ranked as most hazardous are made of monomers classified as mutagenic and/or carcinogenic (category 1A or 1B). These belong to the polymer families of polyurethanes, polyacrylonitriles, PVC, epoxy resins, and styrenic copolymers (ABS, SAN and HIPS), and have a large global production (1-37 million tons/year)” – Delilah Lithner, 2011

PVC {Polyvinyl Chloride} is toxic and does this thing called “off –gassing” – it releases Volatile Organic Compounds {VOCs} into the air, which harm our bodies {eye irritation, headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, dizziness, respiratory system, reproductive system, nervous system… the list goes on}! There can easily be over 100 chemicals in one PVC shower curtain!

Volatile Organic Compounds also tend to linger for quite a while. Just think of how long it takes for that “new” smell to go away. Even if your shower curtain is a couple of months old, it can continue to release VOCs as it gets warmed up by a hot shower. Mmm, chemical steam bath! Take a few deep breaths to really reap the benefits…. NOT! Just like we now know not to heat up plastic Tupperware, the same goes for PVC.

 “Anytime a product like this is brought into the home, it affects every member of the family. Children are especially vulnerable because they are small and, pound for pound, they eat more, breathe more, and consume more than adults.  So even small exposure is a big dose” – Dr. Steve Gilbert {toxicologist & expert on children’s health}

The toxins in PVC don’t just harm us. They harm wildlife, and they get into our water supply. So not only are we breathing them, we end up drinking them, eating them and bathing in them too. A study named Volatile Vinyl, by the Centre for Health, Environment & Justice, was released in 2008, and the thesis “Environmental and Health Hazards of Chemicals in Plastic Polymers and Products” by Swedish PHD student, Delilah Lithner, was completed in 2011 on the carcinogenic dangers of plastics {including PVC} on humans & the environment.

“Plasticised PVC also contains larger amounts of additives which may be available for leaching.”- Delilah Lithner, 2011

In comparison, PEVA {Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate} curtains & liners are non-toxic plastic options {so far, no agency has found it to be hazardous to our health, but that could change} that are becoming more and more available at major retailers & home stores. HomeSense, Target, Ikea, and most eco-home stores should carry them.

PEVA is a good first step, especially if you take care of your curtain or liner; however, it is most often a petrochemical product. Many of the “ingredients” have yet to be fully tested, and those that say “waterproof” may have a chemical coating.

There is a simple way to “go green” with plastic shower curtains & liners, save a bunch of money & help out the environment! Instead of always buying a new PEVA shower curtain or liner whenever yours gets a bit mildewy, moldy, or slightly dis-coloured, simply launder it!


  • Take down your shower curtain or liner and put in the washing machine with a few towels or maybe the bath mat – as the textured surface will help “scrub” it clean!
  • Using your favorite all natural laundry soap {and maybe some vinegar in the “bleach” & “rinse” sections} turn on the washing machine and let it do all the work for you!
  • Once washed, hang it back up to dry. Make sure you pull the shower curtain closed so it can to air dry quickly. Get into the habit of pulling your curtain closed after every shower anyways, as this will help prevent new mold & mildew growth, which means you can wash your shower curtain or liner less often!
  • Give it a little scrub down in between washings. We do this in the shower by keeping a good scrubby brush in the shower, taking 15 seconds to clean it near the bottom where mildew/mold growth & dis-colouration is most likely to occur.

Big City Hippies look forward to the day when shower curtains & liners are not made of “new” plastic, and instead are made of “plastic-like” eco and bio materials, such as hemp, cellulose, bio-plastics & recycled materials.

If you must buy a new curtain or liner that is a plastic, please purchase a PEVA instead of PVC. If you currently have a PVC curtain or liner, we strongly urge you to get that Poison Plastic out of your house. Look up how to safely dispose of the monstrosity in your city.

If you are looking to go full hippie {aka plastic free}, then you have a few options

  • develop a new eco-material option & patent it, plus give Big City Hippies 20%
  • install glass doors – no more curtains or liners at all
  • use a hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester or sail cloth curtain and take good care of it
  • install a “rain shower” head – this reduces the “splash” factor
  • forget showers & have sponge baths instead
  • go stand naked in the rain or jump in a lake

That last option is actually our favorite. Le Sigh… to have a private lake.


Recap: PVC is bad, PEVA is good, Hemp is better, Naked Lake time is best.


Want to get lost in a 3 hour Google time-warp reading studies & research? Check out these awesome resources! 


 PVC {Poly Vinyl Chloride} Information.

PEVA {Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate} Information.

VOCs {Volatile Organic Compounds} information by the EPA {Environmental Protection Agency}

Volatile Vinyl Study by The Centre for Health, Environment & Justice {2008}

Environmental and Health Hazards of Chemicals in Plastic Polymers and Products by Delilah Lithner {2011}

Bio-Based Plastics Information by EuropaBio



About BigCityHippies

A collective of enlightened individuals sharing with their communities.

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