A first glance at the pristine rural India bathroom revealed a bathing set up unfamiliar to most westerners: a five gallon bucket, a cup, and a faucet. No six foot high shower head. Walking on the main street of the village, I saw water pipes were above ground and each building either had a small water tank in front of it or on its roof.
There was also a lake, but it looked like a lot of it had been sucked dry.
I thought this was monsoon season!? Where did the lake water go? How do these pipes and tanks work? (answers in future blog posts) One question I did know the answer to. I explained to my roommate how to bathe: use the faucet to fill up the bucket. Use the cup to scoop water to pour over your head. Lather. Rinse. Don’t repeat – that’s using too much water.
At Arjunabittahalli’s amazing Shrimath Yoga, I knew I was in the right place when the code of conduct required the following conservation practices: use only the amount of water necessary, limit electricity use, consume less plastics, and sort your trash (recyclables, compostables). The first morning, I filled the bucket up with lukewarm water at 5:00 AM. I used less than half of the bucket to completely bathe, about 2 gallons. My (awesome) roommate used the same amount. That means 5 gallons of water is more than enough for two people to bathe and even save some for later. It got me thinking: how much water on average would I use for a shower back home in Ohio, USA?
Home Water Works estimates that the average american shower uses 17.2 gallons of water for 8.2 minutes at a flow of 2.1 gallons/ minute. Wow, that’s about 8.5 times more water used at home versus my indian shower! When I was little, I understood something was wrong about taking a very long shower when my dad would turn off the hot water tank my brothers or I took too long. Now that I’m on my own the math adds up (financially) and I am conscious of the conservation issues. Considering my family of six showering daily with those averages, that’s 103.2 gallons a day or 722.4 gallons of water in a week! If we had bathed in India with the method described, a family of 6 would use about 84 gallons to bathe for one week.
Home Water Works is a great resource for daily water conservation tips, or for educators to use a water usage calculator.
I am motivated to continue to learn and teach about our planet’s commonality: a need for access to clean water to survive. Stay tuned for what we learned and taught about water in rural India (during our yoga teacher training)!