Alec Marsh

A daily shower is money down the drain

Why not scrap it to save cash – and the planet?

  • From Spectator Life

When did it become an inalienable human right to have a shower every day? I ask the question because pretty clearly it wasn’t always so. Yes, the Romans had showers – of course they did (they probably had the internet, too, but archaeologists can’t see it). A potter about online will tell you that we got the first mechanical shower here (hand pumped) thanks to the ingenuity of a plumber from Ludgate Hill named William Feetham. That was in 1767, which means that by the time Jane Austen was getting ink on her fingers a shower was an option for some.

So the answer to my question is somewhere between 1767, when I expect a monthly bath was de rigueur for most of us, and around 1990, by which point it become common for Britons to take a daily shower and regard it as essential. We can probably pinpoint the shower’s emergence as a daily fact of life between the tearing of the shower curtain in Psycho in 1960 and Michael Douglas’s impressive displays of shower-related stamina with Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct in 1992. Indeed, according to a poll by YouGov from 2018, 62 per cent of Britons take at least one shower each day – indicating, perhaps, that there are those who routinely take more than one. These showers last, on average, seven to eight minutes.

And that, whichever way you cut it, must be using an eyewatering amount of water. How much? Well, a few years back the Energy Saving Trust released some figures stating that Britain used 2.2 billion litres of water a day showering – which is about as much water as pours over the Niagara Falls in ten minutes (at around 750,000 US gallons per second, if you’re interested). That’s a lot of water. 

As well as being cleaned and treated at great expense by your local French-owned water company, this water probably has had to be heated by you, too.

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