The Green Man Says
February 6, 2009 Leave a comment
by Austin Hollis
In this column, I take a good look at the simple things we can do to help conserve our natural resources and live more sustainable lives. Let’s start with the “morning routine.”
For many of us, the day begins when our alarms start blaring some dissonant noise to get us out of our warm beds. Rubbing the sand out of our eyes, we groggily head down the hall to the bathroom. This is a good opportunity to make some changes in our current unsustainable lifestyles.
Probably the most significant change we can make in this arena is to waste less water. Most “how to go green” books will tell you simply to “take shorter showers.” That’s easy for them to say, but most people need a bit more information than that.
So how exactly does one take a shorter shower? Easy—close your eyes, pretend you’re on a battleship, and take a “Navy shower.” Confused? Let me explain. Naval ships have limited supplies of fresh water onboard, so sailors have to be very good at conserving water and preventing waste. A Navy shower (sometimes called a “ship shower”) is simple to do, because there are only three steps:
Step 1: Turn on the water and wet your hair/body.
Step 2: Turn off the water while you soap up, scrub, and get clean.
Step 3: Turn the water back on to rinse.
That’s all there is to it. Really.
Most people neglect the second step and leave the water running full-blast while they soap up and wash their hair, which wastes gallons of water and doesn’t make much sense to me: I thought the point of using soap was to make yourself smell clean again, but how can that happen if you let the water rinse it off as soon as you soap up?
Regardless, the water savings from a Navy shower are significant, considering that a typical ten-minute shower can use as many as sixty gallons of water, while a Navy shower might only use five gallons!
While I’d love for people to start replacing every regular “Hollywood” shower with a Navy-style one, some folks aren’t ready to make such a commitment. It’s fine to start small—even shortening a shower by as little as two minutes can save ten gallons of water. And that’s okay, too, because every little bit helps.