A new campaign by students at a British University encourages students to take their first pee of the day in their morning shower. And before we all lapse into a collective ewwww, the ‘Go With the Flow’ campaign makes some mighty convincing arguments. The University of East Anglia (UEA) students found that if everyone in the UK changed their early morning bathroom habits, it would save a staggering 190 million gallons of water, and £430 million ($692 million) each year.
The Go With the Flow campaign is the brainchild of UEA students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, who live on the University’s Norfolk campus. The region, which lies in the south-east of England, typically receives a third less rainfall than the rest of the UK, and features one of the highest rates of housing development in the nation.
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Inspired by Brazil’s SOS Mata Atlântica campaign, Torr and Dobson did the math to see what impact one simple change in bathroom behavior would have on the campus, and indeed, in the UK. What they found was that a single flush of the average toilet consumes 12 liters (3.2 gallons) of water, and costs 2 pence (a little over 3 cents). Multiply that by the 15,000 students at UEA—and their first pee of the day—and skipping the john and jumping straight into the shower would save the campus £125,000 per year, and enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times over.
If the entire nation followed suit, it would save the UK 190 million gallons of water and £430 million ($692 million) each year. But, needless to say, not everyone is on board with the students’ proposal. In apress release, Dobson explains “The campaign has been really divisive – people either seem to love it or hate it… But that’s exactly what we want. We’re trying to challenge conventional behaviour; to start a debate on a resource that we largely take for granted.”
And with some areas of the US encountering major water shortages, it’s a debate worth having. Some cursory number crunching would suggest that the US’s 316.1 million people could conceivably save 3.79 billion gallons of water every morning by simply peeing in the shower.
+ Go With the Flow
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I have wondered about that. Another idea with similar potential, although it won't work for everyone: If you have private spaces in your yard where no one can see, Pee there from time to time. It works best if you have more than one invisible place or a particularly large one, as you don't want to overload the ground at any one place.