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Water Sustainability — Shower Power

I’ve experienced showering and bathing in various parts of this planet. And I’ve come to recognize that standard personal hygiene practices in America are skewed towards excessive water use. Possibly not shocking information for many readers, yet relevant nonetheless. Who doesn’t relish a good, hot shower, or a cold refreshing one? So, how is it done elsewhere?

SunShowerFirstly, let it be known that, when I grow up, I want to have my very own Japanese-style bathing space. While visiting rural, western Japan a few years ago, I was introduced to the public bath. Now, I don’t  plan to necessarily open my doors to those in need of a quick shower. Yet, I did learn a great lesson while cleansing with total strangers. The water is not flowing during the soapy scrub down– only at rinse-time. And the room is hot & steamy, leaving no need to seek warmth from running hot water. Oh, and the cold plunge is always available for pore-slamming rejuvenation. When I inquired of my hosts,  it was explained that water is precious, life-sustaining, and revered. Along with souvenirs for my children, I brought home a new attitude and practice in regards to my personal water use.

My perspective broadened further while traveling in less developed countries. The preciousness of water is primarily due to its scarcity. Suffice to say that a few days  in oppressive heat, without access to showers, is a nose-opening experience. Ultimately, though, upon returning home to bathing abundance,  I developed the awareness that daily showers are neither necessary for survival, nor required for social acceptance.

My eldest nephew, in his early twenties, recently sent me an email from South Korea, where he is teaching young students the English language. Nice work if you can get it. He mentioned that a primary reason for taking this 1-year commitment was to be removed completely from his element, and see how other people live. I believe he will have a new appreciation for certain aspects of life, maybe even a deeper respect for water. The point is that, until one walks in another person’s shoes, he or she will only have one perspective to base their thoughts and actions upon.

In terms of water sustainability, it is very possible to bring awareness and change to our daily water habits. First-hand experience via travel is optimal, yet information is plentiful via books and the internet to discover how other cultures engage with water. It is my hope to energize both desire and curiosity to seek an improved approach to water usage. For me, if that means (eventually) sharing my dream bathroom with friends, then so be it.