For this assignment, I focused mostly on tracking my shower time. I feel that I am very water-conscious in most areas of my life (dish washing, flushing my toilet only when needed, hand washing, etc) except for my weakness of taking longer-than-necessary showers. My focus was mainly on assessing my shower time patterns to see how I can best reduce my shower time in the future rather than trying to cut back cold-turkey.
If my efforts are successful, I will be able to save money on my water and heating bills for the rest of my life. Any roommates I may have in the future would hopefully share this goal with me, even if s/he isn’t as concerned about conserving water from an environmental standpoint. As long as the end result does common good, I suppose it doesn’t matter quite so much what means were used to get there.
Day 1 – Wednesday, October 27th. This morning, I had the no-longer-quite-so-unique experience of having no hot water in my apartment. Of course, I didn’t realize this fact until I was already in the bathroom setting the stopwatch on my phone to track how long it took me to shower. Luckily the water was still slightly lukewarm and not frigid like it normally is when out hot water goes out, so I was able to take a rather uncomfortable yet manageable shower that lasted approximately 5 minutes and 11 seconds (the actual recorded time was 5:41, but I factored in 30 seconds for getting in and out of the shower and toweling off). I was pleased that I was able to wash myself so quickly, even if it was just the basic one-shampoo, one-conditioner and a quick face and armpit wash.
Day 2 – Thursday, October 28th. Today I didn’t shower, as is my general routine to shower only once every other or every third day (there was also still no hot water in my apartment). I noticed that my hair smelled very strongly of chlorine, which was disappointing. By the end of the day my hair looked as though I had not showered in at least two days.
Day 3 – Friday, October 29th. Since my hair smelled even more like chlorine today than it did yesterday, I took a “normal” shower where I didn’t really think too much about how to cut down my shower time. I did feel a little guilty about this, but we finally had hot water and I didn’t want to smell like I had just jumped in a pool anymore. Shower time was approximately 14 minutes and 12 seconds.
Day 4 – Saturday, October 30th. I felt a lot cleaner today, so I didn’t even feel the need to shower!
Day 5 – Sunday, October 31st. There was a lot of stuff going on today so even though I had planned on showering, I didn’t. I tried my best to scrub the Rocky Horror makeup off my face with a wet washcloth and soap and went about my day.
Day 6 – Monday, November 1st. Today was especially cold outside, so I again didn’t want to think much about taking a quick shower where I was in an out by the time I had the chance to warm up. My shower time for today was about 11 minutes and 58 seconds.
As much as I don’t like admitting that I take showers that are almost 15 minutes long, I noticed an interesting fact when looking at my shower times for one week. Over the course of seven days, I took three showers; two were “normal” length and one was forcedly cut short by the lack of hot water in my apartment. When the three shower times are added up and divided by the number of days in the week, it turns out that my average daily shower time is only about 4 minutes 30 seconds per day, which is well below the average for my friends and peers.
One of the ideas I had thought of before starting this project was that maybe if I took a short shower every day rather than a long shower every other or every third day, I would require less time to clean myself. I see now that it actually saves water to follow my normal shower schedule except for one day a week where I take a very quick shower (and then use perfume or baby powder/ corn starch to get the chlorine smell out of my hair).
In order to successfully transition to this new routine, I think that the index cards I taped next to my shower will help to serve as constant reminders that I need to plan for one shower a week to be very basic. Also, I think utilizing my sponge bathing skills for those days when my super short shower just doesn’t cut it will be very useful for my own sanity and the general well-being of those around me.
To reduce water consumption, people need to both find more efficient ways to use their shower time and break away from their shower addictions. I know individuals who routinely spend 20 minutes or more in the shower every single day, simply because they enjoy being in the shower. I love to be surrounded by warmth and cleanliness as much as the next person, but I recognize that there are serious water issues in today’s world that I am not helping by taking unnecessarily long showers.
Another initiative that I believe would help Americans to reduce water consumption is to keep increasing incentives for EnergyStar products. Currently, there are no specifications for maximum water flow for showerheads (the EPA has set the maximum water flow for all residential showerheads at 2.5 gallons/minute at 80 psi). To have good EnergyStar or similarly rated showerheads available would be a significant contribution to water conservation efforts across the US (and hopefully wouldn’t turn out like that episode of Seinfeld where they get low-flow showerheads installed in their apartment building, and they’re so bad that they have to buy “black market showerheads”).
Water conservation is an issue that should constantly be on everyone’s mind, regardless of geographic location, political views, or economic status. Each of us is connected to each other and to our planet, so the greater our understanding of our place in the world and how our lifestyle choices play out, the greater the possibility of living in a fully sustainable and peaceful world.