Living in the greater Seattle area, I cannot help but be affected by the green movement. After all, we’re a bunch of rain-soaked, granola-munching, espresso-swigging, fixie-riding hippies, amirite? Any product or service has a green alternative (trust me), and it seems that I can’t watch the news or open a magazine without green ideas/jobs/locations/tips jumping out at me. Shoot, I even work at a green hotel.
That said, being green doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, including me. Going green resonates in my head and in my heart, but going green is also kind of intimidating. And, to be honest, it requires a lot from me–time, energy, money–and it isn’t necessarily a convenient way to live. Going green requires sacrifice.
For example, I like showers. Scratch that, I love showers. Showers can be both relaxing and energizing, and they are a private space where I can, at least temporarily, leave the weight of the world on someone else’s shoulders and just be. Hot, steamy, falling water is physically and mentally intoxicating for me. In college, I once took a three hour shower.
My typical shower is fifteen minutes long–even when I wash my hair–which I could argue “isn’t that bad.” But let’s look into that number a little further, shall we? A little internet research shows that an average, non-water saving showerhead uses 3.8 gallons of water per minute. That means that for my fifteen minute “not that bad” shower, I am using 57 gallons of water. Fifty-seven! By comparison, the average African family uses about 5 gallons of water a day (www.water.org).
Since I grew up in Africa (my folks are missionaries), that statistic rings true and convicted me to be more water-wise. With Africa in mind, I did the only thing I could think of to fix my water waste problem: I bought a bucket.
Now, instead of using ~57 gallons of water per shower, I can use less than five–even when washing my hair. For those of you who may have never taken a bucket bath, the premise is simple: fill a bucket of water to the temperature of your liking and use that water to bathe. It helps if you have a cup and a sponge (or shower poof, if you prefer). Use the cup to get wet, then soap up using the sponge or poof. Use the cup again to rinse yourself off. Voila! You probably used about two gallons of water.
If the idea of keeping a bucket in your tub or shower doesn’t sound all that enticing, you can get similar results by turning off the water in the shower when you are not actively rinsing, etc. For me, the bucket method works best since leaving the shower running is just too darn tempting.
What are your feelings about going green? Any tips for conserving water?