When it comes to taking a bath or a shower, which is the more sustainable choice? There are a few factors to consider, mainly water usage but also the electricity used to heat the water. The answer to which is better for the planet, a bath or a shower is: it depends.
On average, filling a standard bathtub requires about 36 gallons (136 liters) of water. That’s a significant amount of water for a single use. It’s unlikely, however, that you are going to fill the bathtub all the way to the top. The water usage for a shower varies widely depending on factors like the showerhead flow rate and the length of the shower. A typical 10-minute shower with a standard showerhead can use between 25 to 50 gallons (95-190 liters) of water.
So, if you have a habit of taking long, hot showers, you might be using a significant amount of water in comparison to a bath. But, if you limit yourself to a 5-minute shower, as suggested by the United Nations Foundation, you could save as much carbon emissions as is sequestered annually by half an acre of U.S. forest in a whole year of showers.
A short shower is going to use less water and less electricity than it takes to fill the average bathtub. And keep in mind, heating the water for your bath or shower uses a lot of energy – up to 18 percent of your household usage, according to the Department of Energy.
Tips for Using Less Water
- Install Low-Flow Fixtures: Installing low-flow showerheads and faucets can significantly reduce water consumption without compromising water pressure.
- Time Your Showers: Set a timer for your shower to ensure you don’t linger too long. Reducing your shower time by just a few minutes can make a big difference.
- Collect Bath Water: If you prefer baths, consider collecting the water you use and repurposing it for other household tasks like watering plants. If you use Plaine Products in your bath, you can feel good knowing that Plaine Products are gray water safe.
- Switch to a Dual-Flush Toilet: Upgrade your toilet to a dual-flush model, which allows you to choose between a full flush for solids and a partial flush for liquids.
- Fix Leaks: Even a small leak can waste a significant amount of water over time. Regularly check for and repair leaks in your bathroom fixtures.
- Consider a Navy Shower: A “navy shower” involves wetting yourself, turning off the water, soaping up, and then quickly rinsing. This technique can save a substantial amount of water.
- Use a Bucket or Watering Can: When washing your face or brushing your teeth, use a bucket or watering can to collect and reuse the water instead of letting it go down the drain.
The choice between a bath and a shower is a personal one, but it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of your decision. In most cases, taking shorter showers with low-flow fixtures is the more eco-friendly option. By making simple changes to your daily routine, such as installing water-saving fixtures and being mindful of your water usage, you can significantly reduce your water consumption and contribute to a more sustainable future. So, the next time you step into the bathroom, make a conscious choice to protect our planet, one drop at a time.