Bathing in India Compared to in USA: the Start of a Rural Water Inquiry

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.

Residential water tank next to two Arjunabittahalli children, who were proud to show me their home

There was also a lake, but it looked like a lot of it had been sucked dry.

Gohalli Lake , Arjunabittahalli, India. Why isn’t the lake full ?

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?

Any guesses?

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)!

26 thoughts on “Bathing in India Compared to in USA: the Start of a Rural Water Inquiry

  1. Pingback: Water Lady of the Indian Village | Laura Schetter

  2. Pingback: Co-teaching Water Conservation in an Indian Village… | Laura Schetter

  3. AAS

    Bathing in India
    The woman realizes just how much water she actually uses in the U.S.

    She also notices that she uses way to much water in the U.S because the amount she used in India was way more than enough for a grown adult to shower with.


  4. AWM

    They only use a five gallon bucket, a cup, and a faucet. There were pipes were above ground and each building either had a small water tank in the front of it or on its roof.


  5. Bam

    Bathing in India- I noticed that they only get to use Five gallons of water to bathe. I wonder why we Americans use so much water in the shower.


  6. Cody B

    They are very conciencous of water

    They only use 88 gallons of water a week we use 722.4 gallons in U.S

    We dont even need wells but they need water and send someone to get water for everyone

    They only use little amounts of water for every thing.


  7. C.L

    Their showers are just tubs and a bucket of water they don’t have showers like we do.
    Their water pipes are above ground.
    They have a small water tank on their roof or in front of their house.


  8. Dessa

    Bathing in India compared to U.S.A:

    In India their showers are different, their showers are made up of a five gallon bucket, a cup, and a faucet. Not a shower head.

    You are only allowed to use the amount of water that is necessary.

    We can use up to 2 gallons of water and still have some extra in India!


  9. kadin

    Bathing in India tells about how a woman went to India and relized the people there had to use very little water to take a shower and you could take a shower with only about 2 gallons of water each time you want to take a shower.


  10. B.T.

    Here in the United States we use a lot more water than in India. We use 8.5 times more water than India. We should try to take shorter showers and save more water. In India they take a bucket of water and a cup then pour the water over their heads. It would be so much different.


  11. JH

    I noticed that people in the village do not have a lot of water to use. I also noticed that they all were very careful when trying not to waste water. I wonder if the United States will eventually get to the point where there is not a lot of water left. I also wonder if the government is trying to change salt water into fresh water.


  12. Evie M.

    July 22 Paragraph Reflections

    Paragraph 1-Explains what their showers look like.
    Paragraph 2-Asks questions, she explains to her roommate how to bathe.
    Paragraph 3-Explains how much water her and her roommate used for showers, asks how much water she uses for showers.
    Paragraph 4-Shows how much water we use in showers and how the showers in the USA compare to showers in India. She gives us examples from her household.
    Last 3 sentences-Sums up selection
    July 24 Paragraph Reflections

    Paragraph 1- Tells about “The Water Lady”
    Paragraph 2- Tells what “The Water Lady” does.
    Paragraph 3- Talks about a lake that normally fills up by a monsoon, but now the monsoon’s are in different orders and there is no more patter between them.
    Paragraph 4- Tells what the eucalyptus trees are doing.
    Paragraph 5- Sums up selection


  13. Kearstin S.

    – I notice that people in India have a limited water supply for things like bathing.

    – I wonder how hard it was to get used to not using as much water.


  14. BPJ

    I notice that there is a lot of water that we use in America why don’t they cut down the trees so that the trees don’t take the water from the lake?


  15. TLH

    For bathing in India I noticed that during monsoon season their lake was almost dried up. I also noticed that in America a family of six would be using around 722 gallons of water but a family of six in India would only be using 84. I wonder if India will ever be able to get more water. One thing I noticed about water women was she has a very important job. Another thing I noticed was other countries planted trees where water women lived, to get rid of disease. I wonder if they will remove some of the trees so the lake fills back up.


  16. JMH

    Bathing in India Why did the water get sucked dry from the lake? What part of India was she in? I do feel very grateful for the water that I have b/c I have b/c I have the privilege to just turn on water some people don’t.


  17. Madalyn2002

    I think that what they go through must be extremely hard. Now that I think about the amount of water I use, I start to feel really guilty. It’s amazing about how close of a community they become because of a lack in water. I’ve always wanted to experience Africa and other places like that and now I’m not sure about it. But I know that I need to conserve water more often.


  18. G. S.

    Reading this really made me think about the use of my water at home so I am very happy that you made this blog because now after I have read this I have decided to cut down on the water that I use at home.


  19. PES

    I feel so guilty after reading this because I use so much water when I take a shower everyday. I would never be able to go through with that. I probably use 20 gallons of water each shower that I take! You are so awesome:):):):):):):):):):):):):)


  20. Zac

    She turns the water on and off every morning. They have limited water in the lake and their monsoons are unpredictable. They had a five gallon bucket, a cup, and a faucet but we have shower heads and faucets and drains. Their lakes were sucked dry unlike ours that don’t go dry. They cannot use to much water. They use 2 gallons of water to bathe but the average american uses 17.2 gallons of water.


  21. AM

    I would probably save water just like other places like India so we can be more efficient. I also noticed that the eucalyptus trees in the lake probably absorbed most of the water to survive themselves. That also might be why the water from the lake is decreasing in amount.


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