Conserving Water, Water Everywhere
minimal living showers water conversation
It seems like such a trivial thing: use less hot water. Why bother? Instead of getting Americans to conserve hot water, wouldn't it be better to get them all to drive electric solar-powered cars? Or better yet, buy handmade artisan grocery bags to feed starving children in Africa. It makes sense that we should use less hot water, but wouldn't it be better to expend our efforts on more important changes?
Convenience also plays a big role in our willingness to make small changes. Who wants to plan showers 30 minutes ahead of time?
Its the Little Things That Count
Nevertheless, for those of us with little time and less money, the small changes are probably the most important. I would love to give to charities, or donate more of my time for volunteer work, but, as I've had to explain numerous times to solicitors on the street, I have enough trouble supporting myself without sponsoring a needy child. So I need to look for ways to make my day to day life more responsible and conscious. Water conservation is one easy, but significant, way to do that.
So here are some tips on cheap, (relatively) painless ways to save water and money. These habits add up over the long term, both in reducing your environmental impact and in reducing your heating and water bill.
- Turn down the heat: Take slightly less steamy showers. This is probably the most uncomfortable change, so make it a slow one. You'd be surprised how low the setting can be and still be warm and comfortable. Incidentally, cooler showers are much better for your skin, promoting clearer, healthier skin that doesn't dry out as much and is more resistant to aging and sunburn.
- Shampoo less often: For girls especially, shampooing can take a lot of time in the shower. Since it is not necessary to shampoo every day, that can save a few minutes a day that add up. There's a fair bit of research coming out that our hair actually suffers from too much shampooing (great article by Mark's Daily Apple). Stripping it of all its oil leads to brittle hair and itchy scalps. The problem is that if you are used to shampooing regularly, your hair probably overcompensates by overproducing oil, so if you miss a day, it gets pretty oily, thus strengthening the case for regular shampoo sessions. Once you cut back, hair usually tends to find a good balance, producing just enough oil to keep itself healthy and shiny without getting gross.
- Soap with the water off: Hop in the shower, get all wet, then turn off the water while you soap up. Not only will you save water, you'll actually save time by soaping everything at once and then rinsing at once, without having to fight stray splashes of water washing off already-soaped bits.... Once you're all lathered up, turn the water back on and rinse off (just make sure you set it back to a comfortable temperature, or not).
- Take fewer showers: Okay this one might be a bit controversial in our hygiene-obsessed society, but it might be worth considering. Often, we shower out of habit, even when we haven't done anything deserving of a good scrub. Alternatively, not every shower has to be a full on soap-fest; sometimes a quick refreshing rinse with just some water is all you need. The soap companies will argue otherwise, but they have a vested interest, and humans have done pretty well for thousands of years without soaping every single day. It's also bad for the skin to soap too much, for the same reason as the shampoo (convenient for companies like Dove, who sell both skin-drying soap, which you must daily, and moisturizer, which is usually oil-based btw). Keep it quick, rinse off, and get on with your life.
These little habits will save you water and money that adds up pretty quickly. If the image of a poor humpback whale with big worried eyes worriedly watching the water level creep down past its blowhole doesn't guilt you into taking shorter showers (oh yes, that did it for me), the thought of an extra plane ticket's worth of cash at the end of the year might provide the necessary inspiration. And by following these eco-conscious tips, we can all hope to one day become Kung Fu masters as well, as Jackie Chan implies.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use to save water or heat? Any reasons why you think I'm completely insane to recommend fewer showers? Post thoughts to comments.
Image source: flikkerphotos on Flickr