Save Water: Shower Together!

By Rachel Sarnoff

If you live somewhere else than Southern California, this might come off as a little bit bratty. But if I wake up to another perfect blue skied, 70-degree day tomorrow, I just might lose my mind. We’re deep into fall and it still feels like summer. My swapcycled boots sit on the shelf, forlorn. And California faces one of the most severe droughts in history. With everyone talking about home water saving tips, I decided to share a few of my favorites for where we waste the most: the bathroom.*

The average shower uses about four gallons of water; the average bath uses 50—so even if you shower 12 times a day, you’ll save more water than if you took one bath. Especially if you shower together.

I grew up in a Southern California communish house straight out of “Ladies of the Canyon” when a water-saving frenzy generated the catch phrase, “if it’s yellow, it’s mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” The idea was that you didn’t need to flush a toilet if you peed, only if you—oh, you get the picture.

Given the current state of environmental affairs, the phrase is back with a vengeance—everyone from Cameron Diaz to Jackie Chan is on record in support of the golden bowl as a water saving tip. But does it really matter?

A 1970s toilet could waste as much as eight gallons per flush—today’s models only use 1.5 gallons. Most people flush about five times per day, according to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation. Say you let it mellow two out of those five times: You could save three gallons of water a day—or more than a thousand gallons per year!

Showerheads installed before 1992 can pump as much as eight gallons of water per minute. Take five minutes to install an inexpensive low-flow version. These emit less than two gallons of water per minute and no, you won’t notice the difference. Stagger your water consumption ever further by taking a “navy shower:” Get wet, turn off the tap, lather up, turn on the tap, rinse off.

Remember that habits can save water quicker than hardware. The average shower uses about four gallons of water; the average bath uses 50—so even if you shower 12 times a day, you’ll save more water than if you took one bath.

Oh, and my personal favorite water saving tip? First cut consumption in half by showering with your significant other. Then close your eyes and pretend it’s a rainstorm.

How do you conserve? What’s your favorite water saving tip? Please share in comments, below. Thanks!

*Yes, I know that lawns suck up more water than showers. This post focuses on inside the home.


Rachel SarnoffAbout The Author

Better known as “Mommy Greenest,” Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant, sustainability advocate and former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World who was Editor in Chief of Children magazine—before she had three of her own. Rachel was featured in Los Angeles and Lucky magazines and appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, to share advice about healthier living with less judgement. The author of The Big List of Things That Suck and partner at Give + Take swap shop in Los Angeles, Rachel also publishes, where “you shouldn’t have to be a scientist to raise healthy kids.” Follow her and at



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