This isn\’t waste for fuck\’s sake

It has become part of our daily routine, although few of us are likely aware of the full financial or environmental costs. Yet showering accounts for the biggest single use of water in the home – one quarter of the massive nine billion litres of water used by UK households every day – with much of our money spiralling down the plughole.

We go to work in order to earn the money to pay for the consumption that we want. And if that consumption includes 7.5 minute showers then so be it: this is what we want to do.

31 thoughts on “This isn\’t waste for fuck\’s sake”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Besides, that water is not always wasted. Perhaps they could encourage the people of London to give up showers. But in most of the UK, that water goes down the drain, back into the river, into a dam or weir, and then into pipes in the homes of people who live closer to the sea.

    Still, it took real genius from British socialists to produce a shortage of coal and fish in an island largely built of coal and surrounded by fish, but I really do think the Greens are capable of creating a water shortage in an island that is just a few blocked drains from turning back into a water logged peat bog. If British pipes did not work properly, the entire island would be washed out to sea and would never be seen before. I suggest one of these idiots moves somewhere with real water shortages, like Namibia, before lecturing us on the water problems of the UK.

  2. Two pennyworth in support of the article: I know it always seems to be pissing down, but there really is a shortage of water supply in the SE of the UK. This is down to increased demand per person, increased population and too little increase in storage capacity. If everyone is slightly more economical with their water consumption it won’t be necessary to flood vast areas of farmland for storage.

    Second point is about energy, in the UK the cost of energy is rising rapidly due to government policies (and lack of policies). Reminding people that they might be able to reduce their energy bills by shortening their showers seems a reasonable idea.

  3. And, according to the report (one of its headline recommendations), if we washed all our clothes at temperatures less than 30C, we should save 25p per household per week. On the whole I rate having clean clothes higher than saving 25p a week.

  4. In the name of progress, saving the world, children and equality, we should be cold, poor, unwashed, eat a monotonous diet, not go anywhere, not have any fun, never do anything dangerous like swimming in rivers (the latest one here after a child drowned in a small inflatable pool! Stop swimming is the only answer), have the lights go out on a regular basis, ignore opportunities to improve things, only do what our betters tell us we can do, go to hospital healthy and come out in a wooden box (and if you don’t tell anybody they give you wads of cash) and generally live like cavemen.

    Sound pretty good to me. Don’t know what you lot are getting het up about !

  5. One interesting factoid; we hear a lot about how dirty people were in mediaeval times. This seems to be somewhat exaggerated (especially due to hygeinism) but it has a basis in fact; people did not bathe often.

    What is not so often described is that a major reason for this was that bathing was considered to be unchristian. It was a pagan indulgence. It’s thus interesting to note that the neo-puritans are always anti-bathing. Showers rather than baths, and now even showers are too much an indulgence.

    The reasoning is fairly simple; a bath is the most luxuriant and idle way to wash, relaxing back among the bubbles, ooh, getting cold, I’ll run some more hot then. So, it’s more puritan to stand in a little cubicle being pelted with water, so you can’t actually enjoy it so much. (It’s also far more practically difficult to have a good time with your partner in a shower than in a bath of course).

    But it’s still possible to enjoy a shower, so having deprecated the bath, it’s now the indulgent shower under attack; to avoid sin, make sure it’s ice cold and you only run under it for twenty seconds.

    Presumably after they’ve got everyone doing that, they’ll be telling us to clean ourselves with sandpaper.


  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Arthur Dent

    If everyone is slightly more economical with their water consumption it won’t be necessary to flood vast areas of farmland for storage.

    It is said that a third of the water that enters Thames Water’s pipes used to be lost. Now they are down a bit to one quarter or so. Nothing we do with our showers is going to come close to that.

    They will not be flooding farm land anyway. Mountain valleys. Or perhaps they would build a north-south pipeline. The Grand Contour canal. It doesn’t matter as it is their job to provide the water. Of which we have an abundance.

    Second point is about energy, in the UK the cost of energy is rising rapidly due to government policies (and lack of policies). Reminding people that they might be able to reduce their energy bills by shortening their showers seems a reasonable idea.

    So having screwed up their energy policies and saddled us all with insanely expensive renewable energy (that every sane person told them was going to be insanely expensive by the way), you think the solution is to reduce our standard of living?

    I am with Tim W. There is finally a good use for all that hemp those Hippies are growing.

  7. I am struggling to see what the point of the article is. “Yet showering now accounts for the biggest single use of water in the home..”

    Well, something has to be “the single biggest use of water in the home.” So what? And if it’s about energy use/expense, it says hot water is £228 per year. Sounds reasonable to me.

  8. @ Arthur Dent

    we don’t have a water shortage. We have a storage problem thanks to leaky pipes (see above) and we may well have a water capture problem, but we don’t have a shortage, there’s so much of the stuff that we were having major flooding problems.

    (That had nothing to do with the drought, inter alia, which was a real drought; that was down to average rainfall over the last few years making the ground hard, which actually exacerbates flooding because it runs off rather than getting absorbed.)

    The point is that water capture is the water company’s problem – or should be – not ours. If they can’t adequately provide they should fuck off and let someone else do it.

    Here’s a thing; if everyone used less water, would the water companies then say ‘phew’ and put their prices down? Or would they put them up to make up the profit shortfall? Because if the latter, they can fuck off now and every day until the final trump.

  9. sam: The point is that water capture is the water company’s problem – or should be – not ours. If they can’t adequately provide they should fuck off and let someone else do it.

    Nope, its the government’s problem. They have decided not to build any more reservoirs in the SE even though the population has increased by around 0.75 million. Total fucking stupidity.

  10. James P: “Does this make Guardianistas the real ‘great unwashed’?”

    No, because they expect everyone else to stop doing whatever it is they have a bee in their bonnet about, while they carry on blithely doing it. Because they’re special.

  11. Because they’re special.

    Comes from Calvinism. A minority of elect, whose job is to keep the reprobate majority in line. It’s an interesing quirk of Calvinism that because God elected the Elect at the dawn of time, nothing an Elect does can disqualify him or her from salvation, while nothing a Reprobate can do can qualify him or her for salvation. Which naturally fosters a “rules for you, not for us” mentality, of the kind so graphically illustrated by the repellent behaviour and hypocrisy of the New Labour years.

  12. I know everyone is having a go at you ArthurDent, but the other factor that means that the SE is short of water is down to policy. Policy pushed by the greens or reducing consumption. So the water companies are encouraged spend money on giving away water saving products rather than on building more and bigger reservoirs.

    IanB, I don’t know about you but a double cubicle shower with a partner is very enjoyable. A lot more fun than a cramped tiny bath with the taps digging into your back.

  13. The whole point of Calvinism, or non-arminianism in general, was that no sod knew who the elect were, so everyone behaved well in case it was them.

    The fuckers who want to rule my life are puritans – they know who is saved and what we plebs must do to become one of them. And that includes not washing, and donating money to the Pastor Richards Salvation Statue.

  14. @ Eddy,

    well, I’d say both. But it stopped being wholly the government’s problem when they privatised the water industry. I mean if it is just their problem then what are we doing with a privatised industry in the first place? I’m not entirely certain my taxes should pay for infrastructure from which a company then makes a profit. From me. Out of my post-tax income.

  15. Crusty ex-hippies don’t see the virtue of washing? Why is this a surprise? Go to any lefty meeting or demonstration and see the standards of personal hygiene on display.

  16. I live in a country where a significant proportion of the population do not spend 7.5 minutes a day under running water.

    Believe me there are huge positive externalities to people having showers.

  17. I’m with Serf. Having recently completed 3 years in Nigeria, I invite the Guardian journalist to take a whiff of the average bloke on the street in a country where taking showers is not a habit of a good chunk of the population.

  18. And if you’re like me and cycle 15km each way between home and work, you not only need to have 2 showers per day (or three if it’s really hot), but you need to have extra long showers. A nice long hot shower in winter to warm up the nether regions which have iced up in the freezing air, and a nice long cold shower in summer to cool off when its 39 degrees outside.

    So being “green” actually promotes extra water consumption.

    The Graunadians should go back to yoghurt weaving and simply shut the fuck up.

  19. @ Ian B
    You do have the strangest ideas. Christian Britons washed regularly, the pagan Anglo-Saxon invaders did not. When the Christians started to convert the pagans, some little part of the resistance was down to the need to get baptised by immersion in a river to “wash away their sins” which the Anglo-Saxons disliked.
    “Cleanliness is next to godliness” doesn’t square with your claim that washing was associated with paganism – which it wasn’t.
    In the middle ages a lot of people thought bathing was unhealthy: you seemed to have misread this as unholy.

  20. @John77

    although I think Ian B is right about bathing being considered sinful by the early christians. This was partly thanks to the Roman baths, which basically doubled as brothels, also to the fact that you were luxuriating – sinful – and the possibility of other naked people (in a world where ownership of a bathroom was really rather rare*), which surely lead to fornication or sodomy.

    I;m pretty sure there are texts talking about the sinfulness of too much bathing, though I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

    *and if you could afford a bathroom you could certainly afford slaves or handmaids or attendant boys, leading to &c &c.

  21. Just poking my head round the corner to observe that, once again, Ian B’s account of Calvinism looks nothing like the Calvinism one might find in real history. Maybe it is most like that found in the version of history which exists purely inside Ian’s noggin.

  22. Well, a critical appraisal of any movement is likely to describe it in terms different to those desired by its members or apologists. Think of the profound differences between appraisals of, say, environmentalism by sympathisers and opponents of that movement.

  23. It must stink to high heaven in Guardian Towers. They won’t have air conditioning, of course, being pious and noble warriors of Gaia.

  24. Ian: no, I am not irritated at your appraisal but your ignorance of history.

    You suggest that Calvinists taught antinomianism (placing the elect outside the law, so concluding that the elect can sin with impunity). What you describe as Calvinism is, in fact, the extreme (and minority) sport of hyper-Calvinism, which carries the Calvinistic viewpoint (depending on one’s attitude) either to the limit of logic, or beyond. (Tobias Crisp, William Huntingdom and John Gill are all associated with this movement.)

    It was a common enough charge to make it into 18th-century literature (e.g. Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of Justified Sinner), and it is undeiable that hyper-Calvinists teaching this did exist. But they were never regarded as mainstream by the majority. Given that we have to make these distinctions on common ground, this looks like the best common ground to take: the majority Calvinistic view. And the majority were squarely against that notion.

    For example, the Calvinistic Dutch Reformed taught that believers were under certain obligations (Belgic Confession XXVIII). The Presbyterian Westminster Confession deals head-on with the idea that Christian liberty means the elect are free to do what they please (WCF XX.3). Beyond what is professed in the confessions, one can look at revealed beliefs through things like Head Seventh of Knox’s Book of Discipline (1560) which governed how misbehaving church members were to be treated. The Puritans, whom you seem also to enjoy misunderstanding, were staunch Calvinists and appalled at antinomianism.

    As we like to say around here, you are free to your own opinions but not to your own facts.

  25. A few months ago I was in a meeting in the Guardian’s offices. They were really nice people, no really they were. I had a very pleasant time, in the close company of very pleasant people and…well let’s just say I think they’ve been sneaking the odd extra shower or two in.

  26. I’m now resolved to go and do my bit for waste by having a longer and hotter shower than I usually would have.

  27. @ sam
    Firstly, I was refuting Ian B’s claim about the lack of washing in England in mediaeval times which was in no way due to any false claims that Roman baths which were single-sex at any one time (different hours for men and women) were a place for prostitution – there were separate brothels in the centre of town. Secondly the early Christians were not anti-bathing because the Jews were very keen on cleanliness. Thirdly, slaves comprised the majority of the population in Rome: a Roman wife’s household chore was to be a manager of a household which did all the work. Owning slaves did not, per se, lead to immorality. Fourthly, there are NO biblical texts condemning bathing to clean oneself – you may be getting confused with secular complaints about Cleopatra and others bathing in milk as a cosmetic. Fifthly – oh that’s enough
    @ Ian B
    A critical appraisal does not needs to be utterly and blatantly wrong about the simplest facts. Beginning of dark ages Christians in England bathed, pagan invaders did not. You are just WRONG – face up to the facts and admit it..

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