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Shower Power Part 2: Patricia's Experience

Written by Guest Blogger
    Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Shower Power Part 2: Patricia's Experience

Here at the Urban Ecology Center, we're celebrating the Earth all month long with different events, activities and programs that highlight earth-related themes. This week, let's focus on our Riverside Park branch theme, WATER. Not only are we excited about this topic, but two of our amazing volunteers also wanted to get in on the action.  Two volunteers, Andrew and Patricia, took on their own water-themed experiement over the past week to see just how water conscious they could be!  You've already read Andrew's take on this experiment, so read on to get some interesting insight on what Patricia discovered!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Today is the start of my "shower power" experiment as part of the Urban Ecology Center's Earth Month focus on water. I would have started last week, but my husband and I came home from a trip out of town to find that our furnace had gasped its last breath, and we needed some longer-than-usual hot showers to thaw out while we waited for a new furnace and/or spring to arrive. Another challenge I routinely face in conserving water is that we live in a 106 year-old Victorian house, so getting hot water to the second and third floor bathrooms requires running the hot water tap for about a minute before any hot water arrives. We considered tankless hot water heaters but found they would be too expensive and difficult to install in a house this old.

I would have to say that as long-time tent campers who tote our own water, my husband and I are fairly conscientious about our water usage. Additionally, having family members who live in drought stricken California reminds us that water is a limited resource. I usually remember not to leave the water running while brushing my teeth or doing kitchen clean up, and our five-barrel system for catching rainwater in our garden contributes to our sense of water stewardship.

I have also tried to cultivate a global sense of water as something we do not "own." Even though we in Milwaukee live close to the riches of multiple rivers and the great lake Michigan, I realize that the sharing of water resources is likely to be the great challenge of this century. Merely having something in abundance is no excuse for waste, so even when I'm showering at our tennis club or in a hotel, I try to conserve water and get by with one towel, even though the piles of fluffy clean towels seem to tempt excess. Today when I showered at the club after my morning workout and tennis match, I clocked myself at seven minutes in the shower. Of course I did have the advantage of a steaming whirlpool to soak in as well! 

Tuesday, April 8

My husband Paul showered before me on the third floor of our home, so I had instant hot water on the second floor and took a record-breaking two-minute shower (no shampoo)! I have no idea how to accurately measure the volume of our deep old Victorian bathtub compared to the two minute output of our water-saving showerhead...at least, not without wasting many buckets of water!

Wednesday, April 9

Another fast shower at the tennis club this morning: 30 seconds for the hot water to reach the shower and two minutes to get clean + another 30 seconds to rinse off the chlorine from the whirlpool.  So far, so good!

Thursday, April 10

Today I learned that shampooing my hair doubles my two-minute shower – still pretty speedy, as I have short hair, only lather once, and don't use conditioner. (One of the shortest and most effective sales ploys ever is the use of the word repeat in the instructions on a shampoo bottle!)

Friday, April 11

I skipped the whirlpool and took a little longer in the shower this morning to comfort some sore muscles I earned cleaning up the garden yesterday. Four minutes, including the time used running the shower to get hot water.

Saturday, April 12

I was surprised to find that I had taken a six-minute shower today! I think I was feeling lazy and drifted off into a daydream. Does that rule out using a hot shower as a form of relaxation? Still greener than a soak in the tub, I suspect!

Sunday, April 13

I clocked my shower + shampoo at five minutes today – it is Sunday, after all! (I am old enough to remember taking a Saturday night bath in a tub on my grandparents' farm with water heated on the cook stove. Nothing was wasted there!)

My Take-away

Fast showers are efficient and refreshing, but a long, hot soak in the tub is an indulgence that should probably be limited. For a cold night or sore muscles try a sock buddy* instead. (*Sock buddy: Fill a clean tube sock with rice or other grain. Add some dried lavender if you have it! Heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes. Apply to sore muscles or cold toes!)

Water conservation awareness can be applied to many water use behaviors once we become more conscious of the need and develop more careful habits.


This blog post was written by Patricia Geenen, who is an active volunteer at the Urban Ecology Center who enjoys promoting the Center and its programs. Don't forget to read the part one blog post from volunteer Andrew to see what he learned from his Shower Power experiment! 

Interested in learning more about this earth-related theme, or about all our Earth Month programs and activities?  Check out our website for all the details and upcoming events.

Thank you to our Earth Month Sponsors North Shore Bank, Godfrey & Kahn S.C., Hayat Pharmacy and our media sponsor 88nine!

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