Monday, July 25, 2011

Change the World Wednesday: Take Shorter Showers

The ladies at Green Baby Diaper Service, as well as many of their customers, are into being “green”—taking actions to use sustainable resources, reduce their carbon footprint, and help the environment a little at a time. We’re optimistic—we think little changes made by individuals can change the world. Like using cloth diapers. Or washing your hair with baking soda.

So we’re joining in Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) at Reduce Footprints, a blog that gives advice for interacting peacefully with the Earth. For more information, you can visit the website and learn about the idea behind #CTWW, but here’s the gist of it:

A few people plus a few small changes equals BIG CHANGE

This week’s challenge was to take shorter showers. We’re trying to save water, so we’re limiting our showers to 5 minutes or less. There are other ways to “up the ante,” like turning off the water while you’re soaping up or sharing a shower with a buddy. (Don’t get any crazy ideas--these days, those buddies tend to be our kids. And yes, they usually pee in the shower, saving even more water. See? Saving the environment is innately programmed in us, it seems.)

Liz and I are getting in on the challenge. We have each tried it since last Wednesday. This is how it went down:

Liz: So how did you do with the shower challenge?
Me: You know what? I don’t take enough showers to notice the difference.
Liz: You know what’s sad, I don’t either. This weekend, I took 2 outdoor showers real quick. I didn’t even use soap. So those didn’t count. But then this morning, I didn’t do anything different than I normally would do and I timed my shower. My normal routine took 8 minutes.
Me: That’s not bad.
Liz: Yeah, my husband is usually in there for 20 minutes.
Me: Really? Mine takes the quickest showers. He always tells me that I take all the hot water so he can’t take a long shower even if he wants to.
Liz: I don’t know what he does. He must jump around in there or something. So I feel like I need to compensate for his 20 minute showers.
Me: What about using the coolest water you can stand?
Liz: My husband uses really hot water, and I had to have hot water today because I had to shave. But I normally turn the water on, let it warm up and I floss my teeth during that time. Except this time I just got in when it was cold and let it warm up.
Me: That’s a good idea. I used to brush my teeth in the shower, but Ty thought it was gross. Too much shower grime could spray on the toothbrush or something. I secretly think he must have peed on my toothbrush and didn’t want to tell me.
Liz: Ha. Gross.
Me: Have you ever tried to turn the water off mid shower? You get in, get wet, then turn the water off. You soap up and shampoo, and turn the water on to rinse off at the end.
Liz: I’ve never done that.
Me: So back to your 8-minute shower. That’s not bad if it’s only 3 minutes more than the 5 minute goal.
Liz: Yeah, but I realized that 3 minutes a day is 21 minutes a week. That’s a lot of time. And if you figured out how much water comes out of your shower head, I bet you could figure out how much water you could save in a year.** By the way, I’m so loving the oil face wash. I also use it on my back. And it feels like a baby’s butt.

**I did some calculations:
An old showerhead drops about 5 gallons per minute onto your soapy head.
Newer and low flow showerheads restrict water usage to anywhere between 1 to 2.5 gallons per minute, in general. So by taking a 5 minute shower compared with an 8 minute shower, you're cutting your usage almost in half (duh). But here's the real moral of the story:

Use a low-flow showerhead.

You'll save even more water. 
Using a low-flow showerhead and shortening your shower saves water
Here are some other easy ways to save water:
  • If it's brown flush it down; if it's yellow, let it mellow.
  • When washing dishes, soap everything up first. Then rinse at once. Don't keep the water running.
  • Install rain barrels under your downspouts. Use that water for your gardens.
Now we challenge you:

How do you save water?


  1. Great tips! I take the challenge each week also. We have been using low flow shower heads for several years now and love them!

  2. Great post, loved it. A comment about the rain barrel idea (I have posted on this) is that in some states a rain barrel is illegal; ostensibly because you are robbing the water company of run off water (read -profits).

    I never thought about doing those calcs, interesting.


  3. Wonderful post! I totally enjoyed your "conversation". And wow ... those calculations ... it's amazing how much water one can save by simply reducing a shower by a few minutes. So happy that you joined us! :-)