July 22, 2011

The shortest shower wins

I think it was my daughter who started the latest trend in our household. You could call it a fashion trend, I suppose, except that it’s something you do when you’re naked. No clothes are involved.

She calls it the navy shower.

“The typical American shower uses about 60 gallons of water,” she explained. “Most people just let the water run full force for ten minutes or more.”

A navy shower, on the other hand, conserves energy and water. You turn the water on and take about 30 seconds to get wet. You then turn the water off and leave it off while you soap up and put shampoo in your hair. Then you turn the water back on and take just a minute or so to rinse the soap and shampoo out.

Taking shower in 90 seconds instead of 15 minutes uses only 1/10 of the water. It’s a huge savings. The navy shower began, supposedly, with sailors in the navy who had to ration the clean water they had, but it’s gaining popularity with environmentally-conscious folks everywhere.

And in our household, it’s become a competitive sport.

The first time I came downstairs with wet hair and announced, “Okay, I did it. Thirty seconds, thirty seconds, sixty seconds,” I was feeling quite proud of myself. During the hot weather we’ve been having, I didn’t mind getting a little chilled while I soaped myself up and worked the shampoo into my hair. The only difficult part was trying to turn the faucet back on with soapy hands.

Then Boy in Black looked up and scoffed.

“That’s TWO WHOLE MINUTES,” he said. “That’s a Hollywood shower.”

“What’s with the extra thirty seconds?” my daughter asked.

“Conditioner,” I said. “And I’ve got long hair.”

Shaggy Hair grabbed a handful of his own curls and tossed them over his shoulder. He’s got more hair than I do. In fact, all my kids have long hair. He bragged. “I can do it in ten seconds, twenty seconds.”

Boy in Black tucked a strand of his hair under the pink bandana he wears. “I’ve got the record. Five seconds, nine seconds.” He grinned. “The water never even got warm.”

“That’s ridiculous!” I said. “You can’t even be clean.”

He shrugged and continued typing stuff into his computer. “I’m playing Ultimate again tomorrow, so what does it matter?”

With-a-Why said nothing. His plan was obvious: he’s going for zero, zero. During the school year, I insist that he take showers on a regular basis, but in the summer, he’s content to skip the shower altogether. When I try to talk to him about hygiene, he brushes that aside. “It’s better for the planet.”

I admit that the Navy Shower tradition has certainly eliminated any tie-ups in the bathroom. My boys go fast even during the time they’re soaping up, so Boy in Black will go upstairs for a shower and be back down again in about two minutes flat. Even though all of my kids and extra kids play Ultimate in the evening, and that leads to seven or eight people taking showers in a row, we simply don’t ever run out of hot water.

Yep, the navy shower has worked out fine during these warm summer months. But I’m waiting a whole year before I’m totally sold on the idea. I’m wondering how I’ll feel about it in February when feeling chilled while I soap myself up is not quite as desirable.


Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

"My boys go fast even during the time they’re soaping up"

Great use of time - that saves on flushes, too!


BrightenedBoy said...

I would lose this competition with distinction.

My excessively long showers are one of my greatest indulgences.

Zhoen said...

I've done this, and I can do it. Had to bathe with 2 liters of water at one point, and it works. But most mornings, the shower is my way to wake up, a comfort to stiff muscles, time for the kettle to boil. I still only take about 5 minutes, usually.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

I got in this habit a couple of years ago when there were water restrictions where my in-laws live, and it's been remarkably easy to keep up (though it doesn't get that cold where I live in the winter). Long showers just seem ridiculously wasteful to me now.

Lomagirl said...

My brother used to set the microwave timer for 5 minutes if I wanted to take a shower before him. But now noone in the house beats my 8-year-old, who I haven't timed, but showers quicker than that. Her brother and father make up for it with long leisurely shower soaks.
Once L can get the shower on and off by herself, I'll tell her about the Navy shower. She still likes me to adjust the temp for her.

rented life said...

I think I'd rather compete with BrightenedBoy! I try to take shorter showers, but it will never be that short.

sherry said...

Can you divide the time you use in half if you shower with a buddy?

jo(e) said...

Sherry: I'm sure you get all kinds of ecological credit if you shower with a friend.

Rana said...

I figure I save water enough for decent-length showers by not showering every day and not flushing pee.

I bet the navy shower is easier when you don't have to fiddle with the temperature mixture, too.

landismom said...

I bet the Potato would embrace this concept in a heartbeat. Since he insists on wearing flip flops every day, I'm not gonna show him this post :)

patrick said...

When I was in school, I had a roommate that did this. I woke one morning to his constantly turning the water on and off and it took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on. Looking back on it, it surprises me as he was (as best as I can recall) a typical Republican, and the last person I would have expected to be a true conservative regarding water consumption.

Years later, we had a special shower faucet with which I was able to do the same thing. Alas, our current apartment has a screwy plumbing system (the building was built around the turn of the 20th century) and management insists on not updating hardware until there is no other alternative.


jo(e) said...

Both my daughter and Skater Boy pointed out that it was Thinking Girl who introduced the navy shower to our household. She knows all kinds of useful things.

Jennifer said...

I do a version of this in the summer - though I'm not as hardcore as your kids! - but I cannot pull it off in the winter. Too cold.