Forget Dine and Dash, Now There’s Splash and Dash

The above photo is from a polar bear plunge close to Charleston, SC. These events are usually referred to as a polar bear plunge, but I have also heard it referred to as a splash and dash.

But the photo is misleading in that this blog post has nothing to do with crazy people running into a bone-chilling ocean on New Year’s Day.

This post is the result of reading about an initiative from the Dutch government asking its residents to limit their showers to no more than five minutes. The initiative is meant to build the Netherlands’ energy reserves, following Russia’s squeeze on gas supplies in response to Western sanctions for invading Ukraine.

The subheading to the story used the phrase splash and dash, and since I had just written about dine and dash, it seemed to be a logical sequel.

The average shower in the Netherlands lasts nine minutes, according to Milieu Centraal, a government-affiliated research organization. It says cutting that to under five minutes could save a household 60 cubic meters a year of natural gas, the fuel many homes use to heat water. The speedier showers could also save each household about €130 a year, the government says.

The campaign seems to be working. About half of residents now take five-minute showers all or most of the time, according to a recent survey.

As you might imagine, the campaign to limit showers to five minutes has met with some mixed responses:

  • Carla used to spend 15 minutes in the shower, slowly raising the temperature as the minutes passed. Her boyfriend, who takes one-and-a-half-minute cold showers, couldn’t fathom how she could be so wasteful. He bought her a five-minute sand-filled timer. But here comes the best part of the story. At some point, the timer broke, and the reporter noted that “There is some debate as to how it happened.” But Carla admits to now using just five minutes and sticking to the normal temperature
  • Thea Derks said she has always tried to limit energy usage but has been even more conscious of the need since Russia invaded Ukraine. She takes a shower just once a week and keeps it under five minutes, and the rest of the time just uses a washcloth. Ms. Derks, 58, relies on a bike for transportation but said she doesn’t get sweaty enough to warrant frequent showers, calling them “completely superfluous.”
  • Meindert cares so much about the climate that in traveling to Greece last month, he took a four-day train ride to avoid the carbon emissions involved in flying. Yet has no plans he to shorten his showers, which he said max out at 10 minutes. He said the energy saved from shorter showers is minimal, while wholesale changes, such as energy cuts to major industries, are needed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Relinde claims that five minutes isn’t enough for a decent shower.“I’ve gotta wash the hair, shave my legs and everything. That takes 10 or 12 minutes,” she said. Ms. van Dorresteijn said that when she stays with her parents, she rebels. Her father has a six-minute shower timer. She flips it twice.

Personally, I don’t see the problem, since my showers only last between 3-4 minutes. But I do take a shower six days a week. Compared to Thea over the course of a week, I am a water hog. There’s no way I could skip a shower after a workout that leaves me dripping with sweat.

And while I certainly enjoy that shower, I think my family, colleagues, and students may appreciate it even more…

*image from Charleston Magazine

58 thoughts on “Forget Dine and Dash, Now There’s Splash and Dash

  1. Some showers come with thermostats. So it’s real easy. You get yourself wet, turn off the water, soap yourself up and scrub all the filth, grime, and crud off of you. Then you turn the water back on, which will be at the same, warm temperature due to the thermostat, and rinse yourself off. Once every 12 months, I take a decent shower in just two minutes this way.

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  2. We are on a well and water conservation is always on my mind. I shower a couple of times a week when I need to wash my hair. These showers are a lot shorter since I can no longer see to shave in the shower. The rest of the time a good wash every morning does the trick.

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  3. Hmmmm … 🤔 well, I suppose if I didn’t shave my legs or wash my hair, I could shower in 5 minutes or less. And … energy & water conservation ARE important. Or … perhaps if I only showered once a week, I could then have a 35-minute shower! Oh wait … my hot water tank is only 30 gallons, so I’d run out of hot water and I am NOT a fan of cold showers!

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  4. Due to water shortage, I not only shortened my showers but also resumed using a flow reduction valve (already had a,water conserving showerhead), reducing water to a trickle (or nothing) while I scrub.

    The woman who bikes but rarely showers? Glad I’m not near her!

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  5. Hi Jim, I could certainly shorten my showers with no problem and I always switch it off which I wash my hair or wait for conditioner. I do agree with Meindert that greater change is required to change our global warming trajectory, but this is a short-term crisis so he could be more helpful.

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  6. I average five minutes, but I always start my day with a shower. On workout days, I often take another five-minute shower. Hmm, I guess that isn’t being energy efficient.

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  7. Daily, shorter showers work best for me! I am sure to turn water on and off as needed, throughout. I am all for conservation and doing everything to help the planet, but also realize we are living on it, and as such, need to use the resources available to us with responsibility, of course!!!

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  8. I don’t think I could take five minute showers, I usually take like 10 minutes but I wash my hair everyday so that takes some time. Maybe I can try reducing it to like 6-8 mins.

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  9. This would be a good personal challenge – see how quick I can get it done! This is definitely doable for me on days I don’t wash my hair (which is 5 days a week, as I try to wash my hair 2x a week)! Maybe I will try this just for poops and giggles 🙂 Also, for the environment.

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  10. I think we should all have the right to shower. But having respect for water and not abusing it is essential. Just because I don’t pay a water bill where I live doesn’t make me leave the water running unnecessarily. It’s the little things we all need to be mindful of.

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