Rethinking showers

Mexican Style Shower

Mexican Style Shower-not mine, unfortunately!

At the moment, I am living in Mexico. The fact that I have a shower with hot water was something to celebrate, not a feature to automatically expect. This very moment, I am about to jump in the shower after a workout, and I’m stalling because I’ve just heard some very bad news. Cold showers, it seems, are good for you. Normally I would ignore this pish-posh, except that as I’ve been thinking about what kind of water system to install in my tiny house, I’ve been wondering exactly how much it is that I need, and what can I live without? Living in Mexico reminds me how ridiculous it is that I consider hot water a necessity, when so many people in the word have no running water at all. I began my considerations of designing a bathroom for my tiny house thinking I’d just have to find the space to install a full-length tub, but now I am beginning to consider not putting in any plumbing or water at all.

How did a lover of Lush baths start to consider carrying in water to shower? Well, just as soon as I finish telling you, I am going to test my limits and, for the first time ever, take a cold shower on purpose. So allow me to go into detail:

What really set off this shower-storm was an article from The Guardian I came across about Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design.   It explains the history of plumbing and how it was an essential development it was to ward off disease back in ye olden days. But as the article considers the evolution the modern bathroom, it comes to the disturbing conclusion that:

“It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom. The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents)…. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish.”

They go on to recommend composting toilets, which I am already excited about, and showering like the Japanese.

 “In Japan, you sit on a stool and have a bucket, sponge, ladle and hand shower that you only turn on when you need it. You can sit comfortably for as long as you like, in no danger of slipping, use the ladle or the hand shower to rinse. It’s really a lovely experience. It uses 10% of the water compared to a normal shower.”

I think I would be happy enough with a stool and hand shower, and I was thrilled to see one off-the-grid tiny house that uses a pump-shower (check it out 6:03 minutes into this video tour). I think this would be super manageable, and you’ll notice in the video they fill their shower pump-tank with hot water. Perhaps I’ll have to take my occasional fancy bubble-bath when I visit my parent’s house, because a different style shower is not that big a deal, actually, as long as you come out clean.

Pump shower

Pump shower

So, you might be wondering what the craziness of cold showers being good for you is all about. According to the blog Lifehack, cold showers help you lose weight, boost recovery after exercise, and (grimace) increase your mood and alertness as your body gasps for oxygen in reaction to the stabbing cold bearing down on you…oh yeah and they improve circulation, immunity, and your hair and skin…yeesh. I found someone else who hated the idea of a cold shower as much as me, but this loco challenged himself to do 30 days of cold showers and is now a ninja warrior. Well, he discovers a life secret, his account is a great read, and inspiring for the 2 minutes of cold that are staring me in the face.



So far cold showers are a hard sell for me, but when it comes to my tiny house’s shower I can always heat up my water instead of going the cold route, although I suppose now I know that when I’m in a rush the cold shower is doing me some good.

I haven’t mentioned much about options like 1) having an RV-style tank system, which gives you all the off-the-grid-goodness in exchange for finding room for a (sometimes) noisy pump and water tank to store, or 2)the ever-popular hook-up to the grid, where hot and cold water would flow in freely, or 3) a hybrid of the two. It’s not ONLY that I’m lazy about putting in plumbing when I think I can live without it, it’s that living without having a faucet will help me use less water and be aware (and grateful!) of the amount of water I use. It gets back to the permaculture principles of Using and Valuing Renewable Resources and Applying Self Regulation.

I’m thinking about these principles as I approach this cold shower I’m about to take. You see, the big downside to my Mexican shower is that it doesn’t instantly heat, it takes a good minute or two…or sometimes four, before the water is decently warm. Whether it is good for me or not, I hate to see so much waste. So here goes. One permaculture approved, super-healthy cold shower coming up.

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