In this part of the world where water seems to be never ending and abundant, we seldom think about how people use water worldwide. We may be more conscious of our water bill now that so many of us may have lost businesses or income. There are plenty of non-health related reasons to cut down your water use that I’m not going to go into.
To put things in perspective, according to WorldWater.org, an average American uses approximately 1,600 cubic meters of water per year. Compare that to 415 cubic meters in China, 296 in Sweden and 17 in Rwanda. Honestly, I don’t think being an ‘advanced country’ is a good enough reason for consumption of such proportions. Our obsession with cleanliness has gone a little to far. Every 20 seconds a child dies from water-related disease because they do not have access to sanitary water. We are very, very fortunate to have access to clean water and we are not entitled to it simply because we live in a wealthy country.
In fact, the United States is one of few countries where the majority of people shower on a daily basis. But how healthy is this habit in reality? You would be surprised to find out that daily showering is:
- Not so great for your skin: Over-bathing washes away natural oils on your skin and it exasperates problems such as dry itchy skin, dandruff, eczema, rosacea, and wrinkles.
- Not so good for your hair: Showering, with hot water especially, dries out your hair the way it was never meant to be done. Chlorine dries the hair shaft, scalp, and follicles. Many women will attest that their hair is much better off without the daily wash, no other proof needed here.
- Weakens your immune system: By removing the good bacteria on your skin, you may be compromising your immune system. The increased exposure to contaminants in hot showers may also play a detrimental role when we inhale immense amounts of volatile compounds present in municipal water.
- Exposes you to bacteria breeding in shower heads: Naturally present microbes in water and soil accumulate in shower heads to levels one hundred times normal. When you turn the shower on, you get a nice blast of breeding microbes that can sometimes lead to respiratory problems.
- Not so good for your energy and water bill – obviously! But even if money is of no concern to you and you are in the wealthiest 10% ofthe world population, why not donate the money you save to non-profit organizations that provide clean water to those that do not have it? It is the most basic of human needs.
Of course some people, like athletes and those employed in dirty work environments don’t have much of a choice. But a lot of us, especially the categories of stay at home or work at home moms, can do just fine with less showering. There are plenty of chemical free ways to keep yourself fresh on the in-between days, from a wet towel to lemons and natural essential oil fragrances.
What about you? Do you think Americans over-shower? Are you okay with skipping a day or two or is it a religious must for you? Are you familiar with other cultures, how often do people shower or bathe around the world?