As promised in my last blog, a look into the secret world of adolescents, how and why they shower like they do and whether anything can be done to change it. Or, more likely, just some watch and wonder anecdotes…

But first things first. We need something that grabs their attention and pull them out of their default “Whatever” mode. Following on from the Amphiro shower (December 2014 shower blog) I thought I had come up with the perfect thing. Cute polar bears in varying stages of distress. With an added bonus being that the web is full of them.

Shower Image

With regards to getting adolescents to respond it definitely works so I’m happy. But apparently behaviour change is only effective if there is no blame attached so I am now treading that thin line between “Heating the water for your shower emits CO2 emissions, which is causing climate change which is leading to the melting of the polar ice sheets, which in the Arctic means polar bears are getting stranded when chunks of ice break off and if you had any kind of soul you would get out of your shower sooner” and “Hey, the polar bears might be in all sorts of trouble but they still look unbearably cute so whilst it would be great if you could cut down on your inordinately long showers, don’t worry if you can’t cos we can just carry on getting loads more photos like this”.

So, how does it work after the grabbing of attention? Sometimes brilliantly, sometimes not so well. For example, in a school last week,  R. (16 years old) was mortified at the effect his showers were having (a staggering 525 litres of water per day due to a 15 minutes shower in the morning and a 20 minute one in the evening, both under a power shower), and vowed to cut down immediately. (My spies tell me that he reduced both to ten minutes within a week though his hair was looking rather flat as a result!)  V. (age 13) on the other hand took great umbrage at how stupid the polar bears were and if they hadn’t learnt by now that the ice sheets were breaking out then they deserved to drown and anyway the coastline was really near so why didn’t they just swim back or why didn’t the people who were taking the photographs just pull them onto the boat? Meanwhile he already has a shower timer and showers for less than four minutes (in a shower connected to bath taps so likely a maximum 7 litres/minute) and so is very much part of the solution, not part of the problem. All of which means I am now slightly concerned that he might decide to increase his time in the shower just to teach those polar bears a thing or two!

Then there were the two girls I met within a week of each other, who watch the TV while they are in the shower and are in there for a cool 60 minutes while they do so. This is so far outside of my comfort zone (but a habit my sinking heart can see taking off far and wide) that I convinced myself after the event that L. (age 10, so not even officially an adolescent) meant the bath and was just confused cos the boy at her table was reporting back about showers. To give her her due, she was a bit embarrassed by the fact she was in there for so long. But S. (16 years old) the following week? Well also an hour and I certainly couldn’t discern much of an “ooops yes that is a bit long” response, but more an “am I bovvered though?”

Meanwhile, I have come to the conclusion that the second bathroom (or a separate loo somewhere else in the house) is the biggest driver for longer showers. After all, hardly anyone (adolescent or not) wants to be in the shower while someone else is using the toilet in the same room!

Remember you read it here first.

March 2015 – Adventures in the world of adolescents and showering