Bath vs (Bucket) Shower

Photo by Karla Alexander on Unsplash

I love to take a bath.  I LOVE it.  I consider it one of the easiest methods of self-care available to me.  There's nothing like coming home from a hard day at work, or a long, hard bike ride, and soaking up to your neck in hot water scented with stuff (I love lavender epsom salts).  

I also love hanging out in a long hot shower for the same reason.  I've been known to sit down on the shower floor and let the water stream over my head, down the rest of my body, while I work stuff out in my mind.  However, I've got to face facts that both of these activities use a lot of water, and in a country that's in the middle of a pretty scary water scarcity problem, it's hard to justify those long, relaxing shower sessions.  

I did a little research to quantify just how much water is used for a bath vs. shower.  The Sacramento Bee did a great article about it, and the breakdown is roughly thus: 

  • A low-flow shower head uses about 2 gallons of water per minute
  • A standard shower head uses about 2.5 gallons per minute
  • For a 10-minute shower, you'll use between 20 and 25 gallons of water per minute
  • The average bathtub holds about 40 gallons of water
  • Factoring in water displacement from the body in the tub, most people use about 30 gallons of water for a bath

In summary, as long as you're keeping your shower to under 10 minutes, you'll be using less water than if you're taking a bath. 

But what if you have to shave your legs? 

If I'm being honest, shaving takes me at minimum five minutes, and I'm standing out of the shower stream that whole time so as not to wash away the soap on my legs.  That's at least 10 gallons of water that are going straight down the drain.  What about turning off the water while shaving? 

And if we wanted to go a step further, we could do as the local Indians do and take bucket showers (Three Actions Project has some good reading on this).  Most homes and homestays will have a tap in the bathroom under the shower head (if they have a shower head at all), a large bucket and a smaller bucket with a handle and spout.  I've taken bucket showers while traveling, and when there's warm water, they are actually kind of pleasant. 

You just fill the bucket with as much water as you think you'll need (which is not really that much), use one pour to wet your head and body, lather up, and use subsequent pours to rinse everything off.  What if we committed to taking a few bucket showers per week?  

Again, this is all coming from a girl who relishes long hot showers and baths, but how much do they really add to my life, and is the cost worth it?  And would a cup of tea and a warm blanket be just as effective from a creature comforts standpoint?  

Something to think about.