by Sarah Herman
Did you know that the average American shower lasts between 8-10 minutes? What about that the typical shower uses 17.2 gallons of water? If you answered no to these questions, don’t worry you’re not alone. When it comes to the environment and the conservation of water most are extremely ill informed. You may be thinking now, “So what?? I like my shower and I don’t care how much water it uses!” Well you’re the one to tune in.
Upon arrival in Sydney and meeting our host families, the general rules of the houses were given: each host family has a different set of rules and requirements for the students staying with them. One rule most of us found utterly shocking was the fact that one family has a strict water usage limit on showers: 5 minutes. 5 minutes?! I just thought a shower was a shower; the water comes from the pipes and we use it whenever we feel like it. However, Australians have a very different view of water than Americans do. The reason for this is because Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest run-off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents. Conserving water is a way of life, and each Australian state has its own “Water Restriction Levels” that are determined by the amount of rainfall in each year. As well as shorter showers, Australians barely ever run a dishwasher and use the least amount of water possible to wash dishes. In our house we have a system: fill the sink half way with water and soap, put each dish in there one by one, clean it off, and stick it in the drying rack. Notice that rinsing the dishes is not a part of the system. What’s the reason for this? All in an attempt to conserve water.
What does this have to do with me, you ask? Hopefully this will change your view on water. When water is bountiful, we take it for granted. It’s so reliable that it becomes a constant facet of our lives. There’s a craze hitting the internet right now called the “Shower Challenge.” It consists of a designated period of time where individuals cut their shower time down to anywhere between 3-5 minutes. I encourage you to take the shower challenge. Just for one week, limit each shower to 5 minutes. Through this act, maybe we all can appreciate water a little bit more, and be grateful for the common gift we so often forget we have.