By: Courtney Schallhorn
Even though they’re clean for you, showers can be pretty dirty for the environment. They are one of the most water and energy intensive practices that we do at home. Not only do they pull huge amounts of water from our drinking supply, they send harmful pollutants down our drains and into our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Here are a few tips to help you make your showers as clean for the environment as they are for you.
1. Turn off the water
Kids are taught at a young age to turn off the water between rinses when they wash their hands and brush their teeth. This teaches children to value the environment as well as practice good hygiene. So why haven’t we caught on to turning off the water when we shower? Bathing is the most water-intensive hygiene practice we follow, consuming an average of 17.2 gallons of water per shower, or 2.5 gallons of water per minute the shower head is running. If we were to turn off the water while we shampoo or soap we could save around half of that water. Some other benefits? During steamy showers it gives your body a refreshing breath of cool air and gives you more room while you lather.
2. Avoid exfoliating scrubs
Most exfoliating scrubs get their exfoliating texture from tiny plastic balls called microbeads. These tiny beads are actually made from plastic and are washed away with your shower water, ending up in estuaries, oceans, and in the stomachs of marine animals. Microbeads are too small to be caught by sewage treatment, so virtually all microbeads eventually end up in our waterways. Just one bottle of exfoliating facial scrub can have as many as 330,000 microbeads or more in it. Because they are so prevalent, plastic microbeads account for about 90 percent of the plastic found in our oceans. Some states have gone so far as to ban these microbeads. Netherlands was even the first country to ban micorbeads nationwide. If you want to exfoliate in the shower, try making a scrub at home that gets its texture from natural ingredients that dissolve in the water, like sugar.
3. Use low-flow shower heads
Low-flow shower heads can cut the amount of water used during a shower by as much as 80 percent, saving the average household almost 3,000 gallons of water every year. Shower heads with the WaterSense label on them are ensured by the EPA to meet environmental and performance standards. They are approved by consumers to have an acceptable water coverage and pressure, meaning you will hardly notice the difference. But don’t forget to either recycle or repurpose your old shower head!