We all know that baths take a ton of water, I mean you literally have to fill up a tub, and even the smallest one is pretty big. Plus, you don’t need baths, plenty of people only have a shower in their house and they’re fine, actually, I’d wager only a minority of people in the world, mostly Westerners, even have access to a personal bathtub.

So what do you think about taking baths (in the Western style where you drain the water after each user, not talking about public baths or hot tubs)? Do you think it’s fine occasionally in order to relax? Or do you think the massive water usage is never justified? Going further, do you think new houses should be built without bathtubs, only showers?

Helix
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Why is it that you always pretend the world is so black and white that only westerners have bathtubs?

The last three apartments I lived in in Europe didn’t have a bathtub and the house I shortly inhabited in south africa even had a small indoor pool with a shower head.

I think it’s pretty much proven that a shower ‘uses’ 70L or so of water and a bathtub about 200L. The thing is, you can’t really use water, only make it dirty.

If you have wastewater treatment, it’s mostly irrelevant how much water you use. I guess the most important part is how the water is heated.

I usually just shower and like to take a bath maybe once a month to once a week for relaxation? The more stressed I am, the more baths I take. So stopping human stress may be good for the environment after all…

Tmpod
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Water treatment is also costly and even though you might have a small effect, you should try to use the least water you can. But yeah, heating is definitely a concern too.

Jakob
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it belonges to where you live and how much water is there…

you can not store water. if it comes out of a mountain, it will run down. if you use it or not. why not using it?

Helix
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you should try to use the least water you can.

Actually, no. The sewage system needs to be flushed with lots of water or huge, rotting balls of fat and feces accumulate and need to be cleaned up.

@Slatlun
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There isn’t a danger of breaking the system by not using enough water. The amount of water we use to flush a toilet is enough to convey feces to a treatment plant. We get fat clogs because fats, oils, and grease (FOG) don’t mix with water, float, and can cling to the walls (especially cold walls where FOG solidifies) of pipes. That’s why sewer organizations try to get people not to send FOG down the drain and why they don’t say ‘just make sure you rinse it down the sink real good.’

edit: Also, yes perfect wastewater treatment would put water right back to the source, but almost every system just sends it downhill to the nearest, largest body of water. Then we wait for nature to cycle it back up hill for us. In many places use is outpacing natural renewal and that is why water conservation is critical in those areas.

In areas with more water than they need it is still important to the climate change to reduce water use. Both making drinking water and processing wastewater take huge amounts of energy. Wastewater treatment alone is the number one consumer of energy, and I live in a populated area with a strong industrial sector. Saving water saves carbon too.

Helix
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Good points, but often the ‘water saving’ feature of some toilet flushing systems is not putting enough water through. Europeans use a lot of toilet paper instead of bidets.

So while you may be right the main source of fatballs is fat, it’s still not helping that people try to conserve water at the wrong places.

@Slatlun
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I know that there are problems with trash including products marketed as flushable that aren’t, but I’ve never heard talk of too much actual toilet paper (even the super plush stuff) outside of personal lines like the ones that connect your house to the municipal sewer or septic tank. For reference I live in the US where bidets are a novelty. I work along side sewage conveyance folks and am curious to prevent future issues. Do you know of anywhere where low flow has specifically caused a problem that could be a cautionary tale?

Helix
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There’s a whole paper on this which an environmental engineer friend of mine sent me:

McDermott, R. , Strong, A. and Griffiths, P. (2019) Solid Transfer in Low Flow Sewers, the Distance Travelled So Far Is Not Enough. Journal of Environmental Protection, 10, 164-207. doi: 10.4236/jep.2019.102011.

https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=90286

@Slatlun
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Thanks! This is great and comes with a whole pile of cited material.

tldr; Our pipes need water to work. Low flows and intermittent flows can be a contributor to blockages, but are not in the top causes. What about baths (pretending this is all on topic)? If you take a bath, the best way to drain your tub to maintain your home’s pipes would be to let some water slowly trickle through to wet down anything that has dried in the pipes, then open the drain all the way to rinse them clean.

Now a longer summary of relevant points. It is a meta study. The main flaw in the study is that they are aggregating data from small pipes like those in your home with the large pipes that are managed by your sewer service. In doing that they conflate the ability to move poop through your toilet with preventing sewage backups that would flood a street. Flaws and all, it has tons of merit. Here is what they showed as the most common contributing causes of sewer blockages with how many authors cite the cause: 7 authors - tree roots; 5 authors - flushing non-flushables; 4 authors - depth of pipe (because of potential collapse and tree root intrusion), fats oils and grease, small diameter, quality of construction; 3 authors - flat gradients, joint material/type (because of breakages), junctions (shape of flow), ground conditions (ground movement breaks pipes), intermittent flow, solid deposition (poop, tp, and garbage settling out, it’s bad if they’re allowed to dry in place here’s where low flow and intermittent flow could combine to cause issues); 2 authors - age of sewer, self-cleansing velocity (having frequent enough high volume flows to wash the pipe).

Helix
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Nice tldr amd analysis! Yeah, modern piping wouldn’t require that much flow.

@tracyspcy
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To make such discussion serious we need to understand if taking baths by people is a sufficient or major factor of water waste. If it is not and major water waste happens during production of useless shit, your sacrifice would be vain. So if you want to solve problem of water waste, firstly find the main reason of it, if you just don’t like to take baths, stop doing it.

@Slatlun
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Is luxury ok occasionally? Sure, if a thing brings you happiness it has value and hopefully people can make a choice if that happiness is worth the real cost of the luxury. I don’t think the solution to most of the really big problems is for people to give up the small pleasures in their lives. It is demoralizing and alienating to tell people (or yourself) that they are failing because they aren’t perfect. For the record, I don’t personally like baths, so that isn’t just me rationalizing my bad behavior.

I tried a quick search for any data on how much water is wasted on baths (in the US) and didn’t find good info. Is this really a problem? Yes baths use a fair bit of water each, but what is the total? Is it worth the huge political fight that will come with it? One thing I could find is that in the US daily usage on lawns and gardens is 15% or about 48 gal per household. The average bath tub is 35 gallons. One bath a day per household with a gray water reuse system would cover a decent fraction of irrigation use and result in no additional waste (with the flawed assumptions that water use is spread evenly by household, and that we should be using that much water on grass).

I feel like anything looking at an individual level misses the mark though. I don’t think this is a problem we can pick at the edges of and solve. We waste water in leaky delivery infrastructure; we waste water by mixing storm, gray, and black water; and then we take our partially cleaned water and put it into the biggest down slope waterbody we can find (instead of recharging the source). That’s not even touching on industrial uses. Yes, we all should address our own uses, but a lot of the problem is just baked into the system and only in the reach of collective action and significant investement.

If you want to get involved find your local water supplier and wastewater managing entities and follow what they’re doing. Push them to do better at public meetings and planning sessions. You don’t need to have the answers, just show them that there is a call from the community to be innovative, push big ideas, and make real change.

Dessalines
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One thing I could find is that in the US daily usage on lawns and gardens is 15% or about 48 gal per household. The average bath tub is 35 gallons.

Giving the grass a bath smdh.

Helix
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tbf giving the grass a bath is probably better for the environment than giving yourself a bath.

@AddSugarForSparks
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I just lick myself clean.

It has a dual benefit of providing sustenance.

@AgreeableLandscape
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creator
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Are you a cat by any chance?

@Echedenyan
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That is washing yourself with your own shit.

poVoq
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I think the bathtub itself is often used for showering (at least in older houses that is quite common) and it is probably quite useful to clean small children in.

I wouldn’t install one in my house, but if you already have one I guess taking a bath now and then would be fine, especially if you have solar heated water or so.

@yxzi
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Personally, I never use a bathtub for various reasons (an important one being environmental reasons), but I’d like to note here that in some places, like Japan, people take turns bathing in the same bathtub without changing the water, which already shows that a bath for a single person as opposed to a shower should be considered a luxury & certainly not be taken for granted.

In case you had to choose between a bath with used water or a freshwater shower, I’d much prefer the latter. Plus in most cases, it’s also cleaner.

However, if you really enjoy taking baths in your own private bathtub, it should be fine as long as you don’t do it too often while remembering that water shortage is increasingly becoming a problem in many regions of the world.

Helix
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The water in Europe doesn’t come from Africa, South America or Asia. The water shortage in some regions isn’t due to the usage in other regions of the world usually.

Wastewater treatment and desalination plants are where it’s at. We have to make that energy efficient and use renewables for it.

@ajz
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