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Baths and the Environment

2012 October 4

tubDid you know that you could help sustain underground aquifers with your choice of how you get clean?  I live in Kansas, and we, like other Midwest states, are in extreme drought conditions with no rain replenishing our aquifers.  Taking long showers or full tub baths impacts the hydrologic cycle, taking out more water than can be quickly returned.

How many gallons of water do you use?  Don’t know?  Measure the tub’s length times width times depth of the water and multiply by 7.5 to get the gallon amount.  Why 7.5?  That is the number of gallons in a cubic foot.   Yep, the math you learned does come in handy.

Use a piece of tape or water based marker to mark the height of the water BEFORE YOU JUMP IN the tub!  . Then do the math.  Archimedes discovered that when you get into the tub, the level of water will rise equal to the amount your body mass, which displaces the water in the tub. The amount can be 42 to 200 gallons depending on how much you fill the tub!

Do showers use less water?  Mostly yes, but sometimes no.  It all depends on the amount of time spent in the shower (no more than 8-10 minutes) and the type of showerhead used–low flow showerheads are best. If you take very long showers and use an inefficient showerhead, you may use more water than in a bath.  Plug the tub, and when you finish your shower , mark the height of the water in the tub. Then do the math.  But beware, those of you who take over 15 minute showers may overflow your bathtub–a real visual reminder to use less water!

Set a goal to reduce your water consumption.  One way is shower singing.  It not only makes you sound like a rock star but it can help you turn off the faucet sooner. Singing is also great for your health–studies have shown that it gives your brain a euphoric jolt that calms your nerves, gives you energy, and puts you in a good mood. Stay in the shower for only one or two songs to take shorter showers and save water!

Denise Scribner has been teaching about environmental issues for over 35 years.   For her innovative approaches to teaching to help her students become environmentally aware citizens, she won the 2012 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. Her high school was also one of the first 78 schools across the USA to be named a Green Ribbon School in 2012.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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