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Earth Notes: The Benefits Of Showering Less

Showering is a significant use of water in American homes. On average, individuals typically take 8-10 minute showers every day, using about 17 gallons of water each time.

If everyone in the city of Flagstaff with its current population took showers like that - 365 days a year - it would add up to almost 460 million gallons of water annually; an amount equivalent to about 10% of the water in Lake Mary when it’s filled to the brim.

For residents of the Prescott Quad Cities area, those long showers add up to just over 800 million gallons a year, or about half the water in Watson Lake when it’s full.

Water consumption in Arizona has held steady and even declined over the last few decade - in part because of the Groundwater Management Act of 1980, which restricted irrigation on new farmland in urban areas. Even so, showering can still account for up to 20% of a person’s average use of 84 gallons a day.

Cutting down on personal water usage can be as simple as installing low flow shower heads and showering half as long – or half as often. An added bonus of not showering every day is that it’s good for our skin’s microbiome.

These natural “communities” on our skin, create antimicrobial substances that compete with unwanted pathogens. A healthy microbiome helps protect us from those bugs and can reduce skin infections like eczema.

Taking shorter, less frequent showers is not only a good way to conserve local water resources, it can also be good for our health.