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How To Take More Sustainable Baths and Showers

We’ve always strived to have a minimal impact on the planet, and we know how much Lushies care about making a difference, too. So when it comes to your favorite way to bathe (bath or shower), how can you make it a little more eco-conscious?

First, a scary statistic: according to UNICEF, half of the world’s population could be living in areas impacted by water scarcity by 2025. And 700 million could be displaced due to water scarcity by 2030. And, while we know that the individual carbon footprint isn’t the full story when it comes to water use, many of us still want to be mindful about our own actions. 

So what can we do?

Baths vs. Showers: which is best?

How much water does a shower actually use? Per the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency, a five-minute shower can use just over 26 gallons of water, whereas a typical bath requires around 66 gallons to fill to the top. But let’s take a slightly closer look at those numbers. Because someone taking a 10-minute shower might use as much water as someone who fills the bath halfway (which makes sense, since most of us don’t fill our tubs to the brim), and now things aren’t quite as clear.

In short, it all depends on your personal habits. A quick jump in the shower to scrub up will certainly use less water than a nice, long soak. But a proper head to toe “everything shower” may actually use more. 

Plus, just as a reminder—Mark Constantine, Lush co-founder and trained trichologist, doesn’t recommend washing your hair every day. Washing every two to three days allows your scalp time to replenish its beautiful, natural oils. So if you’re asking us (and hey, you’re here reading this, so we’ll assume you did), if you currently take a daily shower, maybe try going without a couple of times a week. And if you love a daily bath, same thing.

How to save water with baths and showers

1. Just enough water. We’ve already hinted at it, but while a lovely long soak can feel amazing, we don’t recommend one every day. And you can submerge yourself in most tubs at just halfway full, which prevents spilling and splashing, aka. wasted water.

2. Keep it cool. There are myriad purported cold water benefits for the body and mind associated with cold water bathing, including boosting your immunity, reducing muscle pain, and stress relief. But even just turning your tap down a little could make a big difference for the planet. A cooler bath or shower uses less energy and is incredibly refreshing in warmer months. Plus (small plug here) they pair perfectly with products like Cold Water Soother Epsom Salt Cube or Outback Mate Soap for a little extra refreshment.

3. Keep it short. Not sure how to shower quickly? It’s time to become a shower multitasker. While your conditioner soaks in, be sure to scrub and lather everything that needs cleaning. And, since most of us don’t leave our watch on, if you’re wanting to keep your shower to under a certain number (say three or four minutes), you can pick a song with a similar runtime and belt it out at the top of your lungs. Who said being eco-conscious couldn’t also be fun?

4. Care to share? We all love a romantic bath for two, but there’s also a longstanding Japanese tradition of a family bath night where each member of the family gets a turn in the same bathwater. And, if you’re not adding anything sparkly or colorful to your bath, you can also scoop up any leftover bath water to sprinkle on your plants so it doesn’t all have to go down the drain. We’re not going to tell you how to live your life, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Other ways to reduce waste

1. Avoid wasteful products. Microbeads are officially banned in at least nine countries (including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand) but glitter can still be a surprisingly polluting culprit. Ours is made from synthetic, cruelty-free and plastic-free mica, but it’s worth looking into other sparkling products that might line your bathroom counter or shower caddy to ensure they’re similarly safe.

2. Go naked. We’ve worked for years to ensure that there’s a packaging-free alternative to nearly every single part of your daily routine. Whether it’s swapping shower gel for soap, liquid bubble bath for bubble bars, shampoo and conditioner bottles for bars—you name it, there’s a Lush way to use a little less plastic every time you hop in the shower or bath.

3. Bring It Back. That said, we know people still love a scoopable scrub or a silky-smooth body lotion, so when it comes to our black pots, just remember that you can bring back each one to your local Lush for $1 off your next purchase. And they don’t get thrown in some generic “recycling” plant—we personally pelletize each one and turn them into fresh new pots that wind up back on store shelves.

Look, if you’re not totally sold on the benefits of cold water immersion, we get it. But you can at least aim to take shorter showers or less wasteful baths. And incorporate products that won’t harm waterways or accumulate excess plastic in the process. In the meantime, we’ll be here creating more naked, sustainable and conscious products to help ensure that your baths and showers are still fabulous fun.

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