Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Fresh water is a precious commodity and it's under stress. Even in areas of adequate water supply, there are purity issues and tension between cities and farms. At the same time it is low hanging fruit. Its easy to save water and the benefits are many. Taking a shower is the perfect example. While it uses less water to take a shower than bathe, showers still consume massive amounts.
The Perfect Eco-Shower
Employ The bucket. Place a bucket under the shower head when you turn on the water. The bucket will collect the cold water that is always there before it heats up. Then push the bucket to the side where it will continue to collect water while you shower. You will find that one to three showers fills the bucket depending on how efficient you are. You can then use this water for the toilet. When you are done put the seat down lift the top off the toilet tank and flush. Pick up the bucket and fill the tank before the fresh water surges in. Based on variables one person can save between 300 and 900 gallons of water annually using the bucket.
Use cooler water. Come on now! Do you really need it that hot?
Take your shower the army way. The army, of course, has boiled down everything to the essentials. It’s easy. Start your shower by getting wet. Then turn off the water and lather up. Now turn the water back on. Don’t worry, it will be just as warm as it was when you turned it off. Rinse off and you are done! While you won't collect as much water in your bucket this way there will be a substantial net gain in overall water saved.
Use bar soap. Instead of soap and shampoo in plastic bottles use bars of soap. The kinds and numbers of bar soap available is incredible. You can find soap to replace shampoo and conditioner as well. Shop around and try stuff out until you find the right soaps for you. Soaps are really a lot of fun. Don’t forget to use wood or bamboo soap stands. This avoids plastic soap trays and keeps the soap from getting gunky.
Use wash cloths instead of plastic luffas. Wash cloths do just as good a job and they aren’t plastic.
Set up a timer. You don’t have to stop the instant the timer goes off but it serves as a reminder of how long you think the shower should take. Try a 5 minute shower just for the hell-of-it.
Open the bathroom door. You will save the energy consumed by the bathroom fan. The moisture will expand into the living space. In the winter when the air is much drier this would serve as an additional benefit. If you live in a house full of people this idea is probably not advisable.
Take a shower every other day. My doctor suggested to me that I take a shower every other day as an effective way to fight dry skin. “The body doesn’t need to be washed every day and in some respects its unhealthy because it kills off good bacteria.” Of course, if you strenuously exercise every day this might not be an answer for you.
There you have it, the pathway to the perfect eco-shower; More water saved, less plastic used. It almost makes you want to shower twice a day, doesn't it?
Some ideas that didn’t make the cut.
Don’t take baths or showers. Really? It is difficult to argue that 'not taking a shower' is a “perfect shower”. It’s like arguing that not having a dog is the perfect pet. There are environmental benefits but something seems a little off. However, in decades gone by, families used to take "the weekly bath". It usually occurred on Saturday night in prep for Sunday church services. I dare say that some even shared the bath water since heating water took longer and sometimes had to be transported to the bathroom. If you were in a larger family you didn’t want the last bath. During the week most people simply stood in front of a wash basin with a wash cloth and cleaned up. That might be the best idea in this article.
Take a shower with someone. At first blush this seems quite logical. After all, if you can wash two bodies in the same amount of time, can’t you cut the water use in half? The answer is yes, but there in comes the rub. Can you wash two bodies in the same time as one? I submit it isn’t that easy. Generally these showers would take longer due to the benefits of social interaction and none of 'those' benefits translate into saving time or water.
In addition, shared showers could be dangerous for older people like me who suffer from decreased mobility and increased balance problems. People in their seventies and eighties should not try this. One slip could take down two bodies in a tangled heap of arms and legs from which it would be impossible to extract oneself. If you feel adventurous and decide to try it anyway, I suggest you keep your smart phone on the sink. That way, in an emergency, you can simply shout out: “Hey Siri! Call 911.”
Take a cold shower. The obvious benefit is the energy saved by not having to heat the water, but usually water is also saved because you don’t stay in the shower that long. To research this article I took a cold shower to see if I could fit it into my eco-routines...... Nope.
Turn on loud music you hate. I think this is really a great idea. It would most certainly shorten your shower but I just couldn’t bring myself to include it. Somehow, listening to Barry Manilow sing “Mandy” over and over seems cruel and unusual. I felt the same way about showering in the dark. Yes, it does save energy but sounded a little dangerous.