120 Second Shower Cap

Do you have a couple of minutes? Literally and precisely, two minutes. That’s how long these ten songs play. So what? A short song is not new, but these ten songs are part of a campaign to encourage residents of Cape Town, South Africa to cap their showers at one-hundred-twenty seconds. Some of us do not have to worry about droughts or water bills, but most of us are concerned about one or both of those, and this ingenious campaign alerted people to the problem, gave them the means to time themselves, and made it pleasant, not oppressive. The songs are freely available, and one might even pique your listening tastes from the biggest stars in South Africa.

So, where is the hack? Some of us have experimented with egg timers on the towel rack, timers on the showerhead, servos on the faucet knobs, or occupancy sensors, but those are strong-arm techniques or only for measuring, not regulating water use. These songs attack the most viable vector, the showerer. Or is it showeree? Telling people there is a drought is one thing, but giving them the ability to regulate themselves in such a way that they comply is a hacker’s approach. The songs on the site do not autoplay so there will be no hanging out under the water spray to find the best song. Which is your favorite?

24 thoughts on “120 Second Shower Cap

    1. a better hack is a shower that has a recirculating option. automate it, like the first 30 seconds is to remove the bulk of the grime, after that the drain closes and 90 seconds of water is stored. then the faucet closes and the recirc pump kicks on. you can then shower for as long as you want. or maybe doing 30 grime removal, 60 seconds stored water, shower as long as you want on recirc and then have a 30 second rinse with clean water.

      1. That’s a great idea. I’ve always loved the idea of recycling the water to save on water bills. Unfortunately, I’ve also always been a renter so I can’t really do modifications like that to my shower without getting in a bit of trouble…

      2. Then I could already use a bath tub, when I want to stay in the “used” water for longer.
        No. I prefer fresh water. But I turn it off while applying soap. Otherwise I would use way more soap (and water). Why should I leave the water running while soaping up? Only to have most soap washed down, before I can distribute it on my body?

        1. Your method is often called a “Navy shower”, designed to save water (and heating it) on ships and submarines.
          IIRC, someone told me after 90 seconds or so, the water is no longer heated, encouraging the user to shut it off.

          1. I recall a story (a LONG time ago) about a navy training film, demonstrating how to wet down for 30 seconds, water off, soap up and scrub for 30 seconds, then water on for 30 seconds to rinse off.

            The occupant of the shower in the film was an attractive young lady, which of course encouraged the viewers to pay attention.

        2. @Martin: Your comment about the bathtub reminds me of growing up. One of my childhood friends had two other brothers. After a long day of playing outside in the woods we would all take a bath in the same tub and water, one at a time. At least we got to use separate towels.

      3. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to recirculate water in a standing shower, seeing how much fungi and bacteria are on the floor drain and get sprayed right into your eyes and face. How do you keep the system clean?

        A bathtub you can scrub after use, and you wouldn’t sit in one if it was all slimy and gross, but a recirculating shower has bits you need to clean with a bottle brush, and many bits you simply can’t.

    2. For sure. I grew up taking “navy showers” because we had a weak well system. Get wet, water off. Soap everything, rinse. It sure was nice when Dad had a new well drilled! We got to take Hollywood showers and do >1 load of laundry per day.

      1. I did not know the term “navy shower”, but it’s the way I do it normally. Although the water supply in Vienna is good and plentiful. Why would I want to wash most of the soap down the drain unused?

  1. Capitalism always wins. So raise water prices to reflect the shortage and people will start saving water in a hurry. Washing at the sink instead of showering saves dozens if not hundreds of liters of water. Easy win, but a song wont get people to do it.

    1. @huujua Sadly, I agree with you there. This may be the best mechanism to utilise. Shame it would inply charging people more to drink water. Maybe a cap where basic water needs (food, drinking) by volume were billed normal rate per person, and extra had the tariff?

  2. A lot of water could be saved when the shower would turn into a closed cycle for the duration of the showering act.

    People with some DIY skills could build a small filtration unit to filter out the human fat and skin, from the showering water, because that’s what mostly contaminates the waste water.

  3. A recycling shower with a massage is a great idea and a handheld shower is a must. There is nothing as wasteful as a wall mounted sprayer! Shower heads are dumb, what about the rest of the body?

  4. Reminds me of brilliant California water initiatives. Any Nut farms in Cape Town?
    Google says “With local demand for tree nuts increasing, De Wet van Rooyen and Hannes Jansen of Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts – one of the largest suppliers of nuts in South Africa – are encouraging farmers to supply this growing market. Denene Erasmus reports.”

    save on showering LOL

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