2-Minute Shower Challenge


About five years ago, when there was a drought in Cape Town, South Africa, two creative women came up with a plan to inspire people to save water in the shower:  a 2-Minute Shower Challenge.

This is what the entrepreneurial women did:  They contacted South Africa’s most famous musical artists and asked them to take their hit songs and cut them down to 2 minutes. Once they had ten artists agree, they compiled a record called 2-Minute Shower Songs. The theory was simple. A person would hit play on a song as they were getting into the shower and attempt to be done and getting out by the time the song finished. It was a clever and fun way to discourage water waste.

If only we could take a cue from South Africa. Despite the above average precipitation last year, we are still in a drought—the worst in 1200 years. We take water from our aquafers in much greater quantities than can be replenished. Lakes Mead and Powell have dropped to seriously low levels—there are even fears that Lake Powell’s levels will fall below the mark that is needed to power the hydroelectric dam—and multi-state legal negotiations about water allotments from the Colorado River have gone poorly as of late.

But yet, very few people are talking about conserving water. Most of my college students, as well as the general population, live as if none of this is happening; I’m not sure if that is that is due to ignorance or apathy. It’s still socially encouraged to shower every day, despite research findings suggesting that it’s actually not healthy to do so, as well as to flush the toilet after every bathroom visit. No one is bragging about how they conserve water. Unbelievably, it isn’t on everyone’s mind. There are no social movements getting celebrities on board to create 2-minute shower songs. We need to make it cool to be more water conscious.

Even the water efficient shower heads that come standard in homes these days put out 2.5 gallons per minute. How long do you shower now?  How many times per week?  Do some math. How much water could you save by shortening your shower? What about switching from everyday showers to every other day?

It doesn’t have to be 2 minutes, but I encourage you to challenge yourself to take shorter showers. There are many ways to do this. Some suggest plugging the drain to see the water level rise as you shower—an in-your-face reality of how much water is going down the drain might be the motivation you need. Others tell you to shower in cool or cold water so that you’re not lulled into hanging out in the comforting warmth. Some very disciplined people will tell you it’s best to turn the shower on to get wet, turn it off while lathering, and turn it back on to rinse. Still others encourage the use of shower timers.

My favorite idea is to conserve water by jamming out to your favorite song (Stairway to Heaven doesn’t count!). Just be sure you’re wrapping yourself in your towel by the time your song is wrapping up.