How to Mimic the Million Gallon Challenge at Home | HI USA

How to Mimic the Million Gallon Challenge at Home

This year, HI USA is kicking off the Million Gallon Challenge, encouraging guests at our hostels to help us save water and reduce travel’s eco footprint by taking shorter showers. For a preview of how the challenge will work, we asked Retha Charette of The Roaming Nanny blog to simulate the challenge at home. 

Saving a million gallons of water starts by cutting 30 seconds off your time in the shower. It may sound like a lot, but you can do it! I know because I’ve started reducing my own shower time at home in order to kick off HI USA’s Million Gallon Challenge. 

HI USA is always looking for ways to reduce travel’s ecological impact, so they’re currently installing Hydrao “smart” showerheads in their hostels across the country. Hydrao showerheads work by giving colored light cues indicating how long you've been in the shower. They start off blue, then transition to green, orange, then red. At red, if hostellers choose to get out of the shower - and I hope they do - they'll shave 30 seconds off HI USA’s average guest shower time, and save a gallon of water. 

an example of the hydrao showers of HI USA's Million Gallon Challenge

World Water Day, on March 22, 2019, is the official start of HI USA's Million Gallon Challenge, when HI USA will begin counting the number of gallons of water saved by hostel guests. If each guest turns off the shower their showerhead light turns red, they’ll contribute to HI USA’s goal of saving a million gallons of water. 

While this sounds like a great idea, is it realistic? To test out the concept of reducing my time in the shower, I decided to conduct an experiment at home with a stopwatch, a sand timer, and a really dorky spreadsheet. 

I started off by timing my showers for a week with the stopwatch on my phone. Each time I took a shower, I would record the time in my spreadsheet. My average time in the shower was 9 minutes and 32 seconds. That is approximately 19 gallons of water down the drain. My goal for this experiment was to decrease my time in the shower by 30 seconds and save a gallon of water per shower to simulate the Million Gallon Challenge. 

Rheta Charette of the Roaming Nanny tries the Million Gallon Challenge at home

After I figured out my baseline shower time, I got a sand timer and began taking it with me in the shower. Just like a Hydrao showerhead, the sand timer was my visual cue to reduce the time I spent in the shower. Using it was strange at first, but after a while I got used to it and it became part of my routine. By keeping an eye on the sand timer, I began shaving 5 to 10 seconds off my shower time! 

In the middle of my experiment I ran out of shampoo. When I went to the store, instead of purchasing what I normally do, I ended up trying out a shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in one. With my all-in-one soap, not only did I decrease the amount of toiletries I’ll need to pack next time I travel, I ended up decreasing my time in the shower even more! 

As of this morning I’ve surpassed my 30-second-reduction goal, decreasing my average time from 9 minutes and 32 seconds to 6 minutes and 43 seconds! These days I’m saving, on average, 6 gallons of water per shower. 

If you’re staying at a HI USA hostel, I hope you’ll get the same inspiration from the showerheads that I got during this experiment. If you're not staying at a HI USA hostel any time soon, there are still a couple easy ways that you can decrease your time in the shower and save water at home. 

three hourglasses
  • Get a sand timer. My experiment was really easy, and the sand timer provided me with the visual cues I needed to help reduce my time in the shower. Mine has timers for 3, 5, and 7 minutes all in one.
  • Make a “shower playlist.” I love singing in the shower. By making a shower playlist of your favorite songs and staying in the shower for 2 songs, you'll most likely be taking a 6- to 8-minute shower. Plenty of time to wash up and belt out an amazing version of "I wanna dance with somebody."
  • Rethink your products: consider trying a natural, all-in-one soap that will leave you more space in your suitcase next time you travel and will help you take quicker showers now.

How much water can you save as part of the Million Gallon Challenge? 

HI USA Million Gallon Challenge

HI Point Montara Lighthouse hostel

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