Decades ago, Sesame Street aired a split screen cartoon of a boy brushing his teeth: as he left the faucet on, a fish in a nearby pond was running perilously low on water. It’s been around so long that most Americans have seen it, but in this country water remains to be seen as an expendable resource. We seem to have limitless access to drinking water, and it costs pennies compared to gas and electric bills, so it’s hard to realize the environmental consequences of wasting water. All across the world, though, people struggle to find and purify water, and pollution trends are contaminating aquifers in our own country. Just because it is accessible now doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve it for the future. Using eco friendly soaps when you bathe has great benefits for the earth, but if you’re overusing water in the process, the point is almost moot. Everyone’s guilty of spending too much time in the shower, so anyone can apply the following tips to stay conscious and careful about waste.
- Buy a timer. As simple and affordable as buying eco friendly soaps, this little purchase can do amazing things for the planet. The hypnotic lull of a warm shower can muddle a sense of time, so setting a timer for three minutes will hold you accountable to get clean quickly. If you need fifteen minutes or a half hour to just relax, draw a bath instead. A twenty-minute shower can use two hundred gallons of water, so have a timer to remember how much you’re wasting.
- Invest in a new showerhead. Water saving showerheads can be purchased fairly inexpensively at any home improvement store. It’s easy to install them, and they work just as well at rinsing eco friendly soaps off your body; they just release less water, which can cut the number of used gallons in half.
- At least occasionally shower Navy style. Because ships have such limited access to clean water, Naval crewmen and officers are required to clean themselves in seconds. If that sounds impossible, it is, at least with a running showerhead. The process is simple, though not entirely enjoyable: after getting into the shower, you turn the water on for just a moment, only long enough to soak your body and hair. Then, you turn it off, suds up with eco friendly soaps, and rinse off in a quick, final burst of water. Better than a timer or water saving showerhead, this method can reduce your water usage to a gallon or two, and still get you clean.
- Consider your lifestyle. The shower isn’t the only place we waste water. Even adults err like that Sesame Street cartoon when brushing their teeth, because we’re surrounded by opportunities to take this precious resource for granted. Leaving a faucet running to wash dishes, hands, and clothes can be just as wasteful as taking a thirty-minute shower. It’s rarely intentional, which is why people everywhere should be intentional not just about buying green products like eco friendly soaps, but about how they’re using their water.