The Five Minute Shower

Over the summer, I read the classic science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert. The planet in Herbert’s novel is Arrakis, a desert planet where water is the most precious resource. The characters in the story wear special clothing, called stillsuits, that reclaim nearly 100% of the body’s lost moisture. After reading the book, I started to think more consciously about my own water usage.

Fresh water is so plentiful in Canada that Canadians don’t always think about water conservation. Until recently, I never knew that using water caused CO2 emissions, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Many people don’t make the connection between water consumption and CO2 emissions because it’s not the water itself causing emissions, but the methods of treating and heating it. Carbonrally, a website dedicated to challenging people to make green lifestyle changes, estimates that heating one gallon (3.79 litres) causes 0.18 lbs of CO2.

Using that, let’s crunch some numbers:

My current shower head, uses 8L (0.38 lbs of CO2) of water per minute. Compare that with some traditional shower heads that can power through 15-25L (0.72-1.19 lbs of CO2) of water per minute, and I’m not off to a bad start. It gets worse, though.

My showers have usually lasted 15-25 minutes, adding up to a range of 120-200L of water per shower, and 5.71-9.51 lbs of CO2 emissions. Yikes.

The Transition:

Since I transitioned to five minute showers a week ago, my water consumption has dropped to about 40L per shower. The change was a lot easier than I was expecting. My showers used to run so long because they were my way of unwinding, especially after a stressful day. I’ll miss standing under the water, relaxing and soaking up the warmth, but I’m happy to be doing my part to conserve water.

I encourage anyone taking lengthy showers to take a critical look at how much water they use. It’s an eye-opening experience.

How to get started:

  • Find a five minute song that you love, and crank it while you’re in the shower. Aim to have the water off before the song ends!
  • One full-body rinse. Save time by rinsing off conditioner, soap, and face cleanser in one go, rather than doing each task separately.
  • Turn off the water when you shave. You can fill up a small cup or other container with water to rinse your razor. This “stops the clock” on your five minute shower time.

When I started, I wasn’t convinced that five minutes would be enough time. Since then, I’ve taken three short showers and find that I have just enough time to do it all. I also find it kind of fun to race the clock.

Here’s my personal shower song, Remembered by Witchcraft. There’s a saxophone solo at the end of the song that’s great for signalling me to hurry up.

How long are your showers? Got what it takes to take it down to five minutes (or less!)?

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2 Responses to The Five Minute Shower

  1. Ms. Jonker says:

    I’m already a speedy showerer. But I yell at tanner all the time to turn the water off. He likes drinking water thats REALLY cold. Which means he leaves the tap running almost full blast for a long time.
    I’ll share this with him to scare him straight.


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