The Politics of Creating Shower Scrubs


Someone asked me the other day what the deal was with 'all these shower shaker scrubs' I was sharing on the blog. It was a great reminder that it might be a good idea to explain what the deal actually is. 

The shower scrubs are part of a series of products I have been experimenting with in a attempt to create shower-friendly skincare that holds an element of luxury.

Although that could be construed as 'I am just fooling around with ingredients' (well yes, that too), there is indeed a purpose to these experiments.

Here it comes...

Saving Water Without Feeling Frugal

Our planet is in dire need of our attention and care. Our current (wasteful) way of living needs to be readdressed, rethought, and redesigned.

One thing the Western part of the world is shamefully bad at is conserving water. We are so bad at taking care of this precious resource that it pains me.

When something pains me, I either rant or try to do something about it (sometimes both). The shower shaker idea falls into the 'try to do something about it' category (and today's post is maybe a little 'rant-y' too).

Now, please allow me to shake you up with a few water-usage facts.

We are a little different about our water consumption around the world, and I've done my best to dig up some reliable numbers for you.

Typical Water Usage per Bath

North America appears to differ from the rest of the world in that it has a wide span in bathtub sizes and typical water usages.

There is a USA standard bathtub (80 - 100 gallon capacity) and a 'small/modern' bathtub (40-60 gallon capacity). The small/modern USA tub is close to the 40 - 68 gallons that is the typical bathtub capacity of rest of the world. (ref).

Bathtub capacity is not the same as water usage. A person getting into a tub filled to the brim is going to displace quite a bit of water, so water USAGE per bath is a different number. Of course it stands to reason one would use more water per bath if the tub is bigger, and that's what one typically does.

Typical water usage per bath USA 'standard size' bathtub:
161 liters / 42 gallons (ref)

Typical water usage per bath everywhere else (and USA 'modern size' bathtub):
100 liters / 26 gallons (ref) (ref)


Compare that to a Typical Shower

These are estimates based on checking figures for Europe, USA, and Australia. Since low-flow showerheads have become the norm in most places, I'm giving you numbers based on water usage with a water-saving showerhead installed.

USA
Average typical shower time: 8 minutes (ref)
Water usage per shower with low flow showerhead:  76 liters / 20 gallons (ref)

Australia
Average typical shower time: 5 minutes (ref)
Water usage per shower with low flow showerhead: 45 liters / 12 gallons (ref)

UK
Average typical shower time: 8 minutes (ref)
Water usage with (conventional electric shower) : 62 liters / 16 gallons (ref)

Europe
Average typical shower time: 7 minutes (ref)
Water usage per shower with low flow showerhead: 52 liters / 14 gallons (ref)


Of course, a longer shower is going to use even more water.

So I am on a bit of a quest to get people to change their water-consumption habits. 


Back to the Shower Shaker

Getting people to change their habits is a heck of a lot easier if it can be made fun and effective.

The challenge here is twofold. Switching from taking a bath to taking a shower only helps conserve water if the shower time is relatively short.  How to make people want to shorten shower time? See, that's a bit tougher because once a person steps into the warm water, it can be tempting to just stay there and enjoy it. 

Challenge: insert a natural break in the flow of water that makes sense, is beneficial and planet-friendly.

Comments

I can honestly say I hate the shower. It makes me feel claustrophobic. I’m in & out in a flash. I use the bathroom sink in between. So I think my water usage is very minimal. I sound filthy don’t I for someone that makes soap, lmao. I miss my bath in my old house terribly. I loved a good soak, emerging looking like wrinkled prune.
LisaLise said…
HI Two Sheep Soapery - Made me bust out laughing with your wrinkly prune story! I know what you mean about feeling claustrophobic - some shower stalls are way too small for my liking and make me want to jump out as fast as possible, so I guess the first thing is to have a shower area that is inviting and roomy enough.
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa :) This is so interesting! I'm always paranoid about my habits (ecology wise), thank you for sharing your ideas around this subject.

Lately I've been worrying about how all my amazing DIY oil based products affect water contamination. In the kitchen I save used oil for recollection and recycling but in the shower all goes down the drain! From my scrub to my face wash, toothpaste and oil pulling.

Thought you may have some thoughts over this :)
LisaLise said…
HI Unknown - you make a valid point about considering what we pour down our drains. I used to rinse away cleansing bars that were full of cocoa butter and clays until I got a peek at what it did to the plumbing system. Now I remove with a moist cotton round or one of the many hand-crocheted rounds I have been gifted over time. It is always part of my considerations when looking at ingredients for rinse-off products. A biggie with drains, sewers and water cleanliness is washing machines. I switched to soapnuts many years ago for most of my laundry, but even that has it's negative sides when you consider the environment. I think if we aim to 'do the least environmental damage as possible' we're already on a very positive path.