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Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going Mindful- Shorter Showers

According to several Google searches, the average American shower is 10 minutes long. Still, one must take into consideration that men were also included in this survey, and they have a tendency to get in, scrub, and get out. Sorry ladies, but we have a habit of taking pretty long showers. And who could you blame us?! Walk down the aisle of any beauty store and you’ll find oodles and oodles of products marketed towards our demographic. Dry skin- try a nice peach scented exfoliate. Hair feeling dull- lather rinse and repeat, and repeat, and repeat with this coconut shampoo. The list goes on. Most of my girlfriends are well aware of the twenty minute showers they take. I happen to fall in the average American range of ten minutes, and they can’t believe I can do it that fast. However, there is always room for improvement. I decided to break down my typical shower habits.

My average shower (which I take daily) consists of this:
- Washing my hair every other day
- Soaping up
- Washing my face and/or exfoliating (hey, I told you we had a lot of products to chose from)

Overall, I didn’t think I was that bad. But lurking between the essentials were horrible habits I had picked up during my early teen years. This is what I’ve taken notice of. Before I jump into my seemingly efficient 10 minute shower, I have a tendency to turn the water on, go the bathroom, brush my teeth (where I leave the water on…I think I find the sound soothing), test the waters temperature, and finally get into. Of course it isn’t uncommon to need to grab some last minute product from my room. Soon my 10 minute is a 13 minute shower. If there was a god of water conservation he would have already struck me down; lucky for me there is not. I think I picked up these habits during boarding school when it was a mad dash to see who showered in the morning. The smart ones, like moi, marked their territories early with shower caddies and took their time before getting in. But I am not longer in boarding school and those habits needed to change.

The first thing to go was ‘prepping’ the water. It really only takes 5 second for the water to heat up instead of the one to two minutes I was allowing. I also considered things I could do outside of the shower. I don’t need all that water to wash my face; instead I can take care of it in the sink. Shaving there wasn’t that bad either, and it actually delivered a closer shave. Plus I don’t have to pull out any Cirque De Soleil tricks to lift my leg, balance on a wet surface, and wield a 4 blade razor. But just make sure you rinse the sink out well! No one wants to look down and see a white bowl full of leg and pit hair. Yuck.

I had already taken few minutes off of my shower time and I hadn’t had to resort to any extreme measures. So why are shorter showers so important to Going Mindful? Well, hopefully you know that water is NOT a renewable resource. You wouldn’t be able to tell the way we run through it, though. And to be honest times have changed. I stumbled upon a cool article by an owner of an organic skincare line that only showered three times a week. She explained how even though we’re not farming and getting dirty like we used too we are showering as if we are. Plus, there’s a chance that all these showers are drying out our skin and causing us to need more moisturizers. And she can’t be all that biased or else she’d be pushing more showers so we’d have to buy more of her organic lotions. Hmmm.

Then I thought back to the commercial this summer for the book turned movie Eat, Pray, Love. In the trailer, the main character looks quizzically at the tub that’s filled with only a splash of water. She complains and a little European lady says something like, ‘everything that needs to be cleaned will.’ And it’s true. Do we really need to scrub arduously away at forearms and legs? The only time I’ve ever experience the phenomenon of sweating from my quads was during a Bikram class. Unless you’re daily life is equal to holding poses in a humid 105 degree room, I don’t think that’s an issue for anyone. It’s essential to wash your arm pits, face, and ‘nether-regions’, and that’s pretty much it.
Now I’m not saying you need to convert from being an everyday shower-er to a once a week-er. Everyone’s bodies are a little different, and some people do have an interesting funk them that requires, erm, more shower time. But you’ll never know if you don’t try showering less. There is a good chance that you won’t smell as rancid as you’d think. Ask your roommate to give their honest opinion , if you’re that concerned.

So you like to go to the gym every day? Think back on your normal workouts. Are you honestly that sweaty? You probably don’t need to take a full on shower afterwards. Rub some soap under your pits, pat dry, and go. Yes, it might be a little awkward when a dorm mate catches you in the action, but there are far worse acts to be caught in. Try showering every other day and see how that goes. You heard the school uses low flow shower heads so it’s okay to take more time? That’s one way to look at it, or you can see it as a way to be two times as efficient.

If you’re a 20-minute shower offender, try making a 15-minute playlist of your favorite songs. Every week cut back until you are down to anywhere between 7 and 10 minutes—you can do it! Anyone can benefit from this trick and then you won’t have to countdown the seconds. And if you can, avoid the whole ‘Save Water Shower Together’ method. Even though it sounds like a good idea, it’s pretty weak. You’ll probably end up wasting more water because you and your shower buddy will get ‘distracted’, or you’ll spend so much time rotating who gets the water and who doesn’t. Trust me when I say you’ll only find looks of resentment and impatience on the person who isn’t getting the hot water.

But jokes aside, really look at your shower behaviors and see what you can cut back on. We American’s really love that time and it is part of our culture. But it’s okay to let go a little. I visited France in 2008, the home of notorious shower forgoers, and for a nation that walks pretty much everywhere and rarely showers, they smelt quite wonderful.

To read up on the shower article, go to:


And be thankful the school doesn't use these!

Also, watch out for the Mindful Tip of the Week. It’ll be posted in the e-bulletin that comes out every Monday.

Next week I will be writing about awesome devices and appliances that can lower energy usage and help with the environment. Also, I’ll be talking about simple ways home and apartment owners can save money and still be comfortable during the winter months. You can share these tips with your parents during thanksgiving break, and I bet they’ll be so thankful that you can convince them to buy you an energy efficient power strip ;) Have a great week and keep being mindful!

1 comment:

Christina said...

I don't know... we might have to try some of those shower curtains! :)