Are Baths Bad for the Environment? We Investigate


Water is one of the planet’s most precious resources and we all need to play our part in conserving it. 

With populations increasing and extreme weather events such as drought becoming more common, fresh water is in high demand. Now is the time that we have to act if we hope to have reliable supplies in the future. Have you ever wondered how bad using your bath is for the environment? Do you know if it is greener to use the shower or the bath?. 

Baths are relatively bad for the environment. They use a large volume of hot water which requires a lot of energy to heat up. This heating process can contribute towards climate change and your carbon footprint if the water is heated by gas or non-renewable electricity. 

So what is the most eco-friendly option to clean yourself? I am going to elaborate on these points in the rest of this post. Keep reading to get a better understanding of how you can save water in your house and why it is not always a straight forward answer when trying to decide if using the bath or shower is better for the environment. 

Is it Greener to Have a Bath or Take a Shower?  

This is a great question, but it cannot be answered in one word, it depends on a few important variables. The size of the bath, how many people use the same bath, the length of the shower, and the flow rate of the shower all play an important role when deciding which option is greener. 

Generally speaking, taking a shower uses less water than a full bath. A standard showerhead flows at a rate of 9.5 liters per minute. This means that an average five-minute shower only uses 47.5 liters of water. The average bath will use approximately 80 liters. So it seems like a short shower is a more sustainable option. 

However, there are different scenarios that have to be considered. If you increase your shower time to 10 minutes long it will use 95 litres of water. Already that is more water than your average bath uses! Opposingly, you can get showers with a much lower flow rate which would make them the winning selection again. 

The takeaway point from this information is that you need to use your common sense to work out what is best for you and your household. If you are a large family with a lot of children it would probably make more sense to run one bath and use it to clean all of them. If you are getting ready for work in the morning it is likely to be much more eco-friendly to have a quick shower. Very simply, it comes down to the basic point of which ever one you can use with the least water is the best option for the environment. 

 So you may be asking yourself how you can save the water. There are a few easy steps that you can take to make your bathroom routine more sustainable and reduce your water usage;

  • Make your bath smaller- only fill it up so it just covers you when you lie down. 
  • Share your bath with other family members. 
  • Put the plug in the bath before you start running the tap to prevent wasting water. 
  • Use the “grey” bath water to irrigate your plants.
  • Take a shorter shower. Try using a timer and sticking to that time or less. 
  • Buy a shower with a slower flow rate. 

Why Is Saving Water Good For The Environment?

The ‘why’ to any question is so significant and will be the reason that you keep doing it. If you don’t understand the benefits then it is unlikely that you will want to make the change. Small changes to your water use can make a big difference, both to the environment and to the amount of money you end up spending. But why is saving water good for the environment?

Water is becoming increasingly vulnerable around the globe. With populations increasing and changing weather patterns, water shortages are now more frequent as summers become hotter, winters drier, and rainfall less predictable. Water and energy are also closely linked as water treatment and transportation are very energy-intensive.

By saving water you will be helping to save the planet. Using water efficiently reduces the amount of natural water resources that have to be taken out of aquifers, rivers and dams. Equally as importantly, it protects our planet by lowering energy usage and lessening the impacts of climate change. 

Saving Money is a Bonus

If you save water you will also be saving yourself money. This is especially true if you are on a water meter. 

It is important to understand that by installing water-efficient showers and taps you will save water and energy by decreasing the amount of hot water you use.

A massive 20% of a typical home’s gas heating bill is from the hot water used for showers, baths and washing up. Surely such a large financial saving is an incentive to start cutting your showers down or taking less frequent baths! 

However, we should always set out to save water because it is the right thing to do and to help the environment. Saving money should be considered a bonus!

Water Facts!

Here are a few more fun facts about water which emphasise the importance of reducing our consumption when possible; 

  • The Earth is often called the blue planet, but in reality, out of all the water on the planet less than 1% is accessible fresh water for us to use. The Antarctic ice sheet holds about 90% of the fresh water that exists on the Earth’s surface.
  • The average water used per person per day is 143 litres in England and Wales. 
  • As well as the water that comes out of our taps and toilets, there is hidden water in the products we buy. For example, one cotton t-shirt has about 2,700 litres of water embedded in its production, which is around 49 baths full of water! 
  • In 2010, the UN recognised the human right to water and sanitation, meaning everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable and affordable water. 

Innovative Solutions For Saving Water

Of course, here at Innovate Eco we are all about the innovative solutions to environmental problems and there are many companies out there now trying to tackle the issue of water waste in the home. 

One of the solutions are eco-showerheads such as these from Ecocamel. The company understood people love power showers and didn’t want to simply use less water with less powerful showers. 

So they set about designing a special showerhead which uses ‘aircore technology’. This forces air into the shower handle creating turbulence making the water spin around at high speeds and forcing out the shower in a powerful jet. 

There tests claim that an average family of 4 can save up to 2700 gallons of water a year on average when compared to a conventional power shower. 

Other Eco-Friendly Bathroom Tips

Although we love innovation there are some other simple steps you can take to help the environment in the bathroom:

  • Dry your towels outside whenever possible- cut down on your tumble drier use. 
  • Swap your single use bottles for reusable bottles.
  • Use sustainable products. Eg. Bamboo toothbrush and razor, 100% organic cotton towels. 
  • Use shampoo and conditioner bars instead of the traditional plastic bottles. 
  • Choose a sustainable toilet paper, one that has been sustainably sourced. 
  • Switch to menstrual cups instead of using tampons. 

Concluding Remarks

So the truth is, yes a bath can be bad for the environment, but so can a shower! I hope that this article has helped you to decide whether using the shower or bath is more environmentally sustainable for your household and that you can implement some of these simple tips to reduce your water usage.  

References

EcoHome. (2021) Accessed: 04/02/21. Available at: https://www.ecohome.net/guides/2192/are-low-flow-shower-heads-worth-it/

National Geographic. (2021) Accessed: 04/02/21. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2021/02/oil-drilling-sensitive-new-mexico-public-lands-puts-drinking-water-rare-caves-at-risk/

WaterWise. (2019) Water Consumption. Accessed: 04/02/21. Available at: https://waterwise.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/WWT-Report-.pdf

WWF. (2013) The Impact of a Cotton T-short. Accessed: 04/02/21. Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-impact-of-a-cotton-t-shirt

Rob Wreg

Rob is the head writer at Innovate Eco sharing knowledge and passion cultivated over 10 years working in the Environmental Sector. He is on a mission to build a community of people that are passionate about solving environmental problems.

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