Today I arrived at my son’s apartment in Paris after an overnight flight. I had a short nap and before heading out to dinner I was offered this bathtub/shower to wash up in. I decided to give it a try and climbed in. I started out squatting and uncomfortable, but after daring to sit down (on what looked like blood stains) and turning the hot water up, I realized that sitting down in the shower was actually quite comfortable. I lingered much longer than I ordinarily would have, especially given the circumstances.
Sitting there delaying the inevitable end of warm water, and feeling guilty about staying in, I remembered a brochure that I had recently read, Forget Shorter Showers. In this brochure, Derrick Jensen suggests that our personal choices have little or no impact on the life of the planet because so much of our resources are being used by industry, and we may get complacent thinking we are really helping out when we turn off the water quickly.
Here’s what he says about taking showers:
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings.
So what to do? As I sat there I wondered– if all human showers are responsible for less than 10% of the earth’s water use, what difference does my one blissful sitting shower make? Should I bother to get out at all? Or, like voting, should I do my small part to help by getting out? I’m not sure that there is one right answer to this question. To me, the solution is in choosing wisely in each moment.
In some moments we may choose to shorten our shower, but without the expectation that we are saving the planet. And other moments we may savor the experience of warm water comfort a little longer (especially if we are relaxing in a tub while showering.) And most importantly, knowing that 90% of water resources are used by industry, we may start to find new actions to take that will more substantially reduce waste of our precious water.
What do you think?
with love from Paris (en route to Plum Village),