-by Emily Litz- For most of us, showering is a vitally important part of our day, often both physically and psychologically. Showers provide alone time for listening to music, singing (á la Becky G’s “Shower”), reflecting, and getting clean after our long days. The importance we put on our showers is probably why we spend so much time in them: apparently, the average American shower is just around 10 minutes, but a lot of people I’ve encountered take much longer ones (I certainly have, regrettably). It’s also winter and we live in New England, and a nice steamy shower can be perfect on a cold night/morning. However, heating and using this water costs a lot of money, not to mention our planet’s finite resources…
Here’s an interesting fact: the average “flow rate” of American showers is 2.1 gallons per minute. Think about how large a gallon is (imagine one of those big jugs of water that you put upside down on top of a bubbler). Does this concern you at all in the slightest, given the fact that most of us shower once a day for around 10-15 minutes? I’m looking at you, people who take 30-45 minute showers. In our area of the country, water conservation isn’t as much of an issue as it is on the West Coast, so what should be the greatest environmental concern for us is heating this water and the energy and money it takes to fuel that.
We all know what goes into heating (burning fossil fuels, unless your family is super cool and you have a solar water heater), so long showers that require a lot of hot water are really environmental issues. Now that you know how much water and energy are used in your everyday shower, I bet you’ll become acutely aware of it during your next shower and might want to do something about it!
At a lot of summer camps, like the environmentally conscious one I went to over the summer, there’s a finite amount of hot water, and everyone has to take short showers to make sure that there’s some remaining (although some individuals chose to take their time and use all the hot water). Two to five minute showers weren’t a rarity for me at summer camp, and I got just as clean, but we learned of another way to shower in which you can spend a similar amount of time in the shower as you would like to in an ideal world, while saving money and heat (and time and water).
What is this other way? It’s called a navy shower, and in order to take one, here’s what you have to do:
- Get in the shower and get your body wet
- Turn off the water
- Lather up (or other things that you don’t need water to do)
- Turn the water back on and rinse the shampoo/body wash/shaving cream, etc. out
- Repeat until you’re clean & done!
Surprisingly, turning the water off for a minute to rinse off and thus getting a little colder makes you appreciate the warmth when the water’s on by making the warm water seem comparatively warmer! My dad is also a big proponent of the navy shower lifestyle: “You think it’s going to be a hassle, but it’s really not and you feel instantly gratified knowing how much water and energy you’re saving.” If the next shower you take is a navy shower (and I dare you to try taking one), you will probably cut your water usage by more than half while still being able to get warm and sing a few songs in the shower.