To Pee or Not To Pee

I have to give full credit for this post to Tom Watson of King County. It’s a hilarious ad for water conservation from a Brazilian Environmental Organization. Their message is pretty simple: pee in the shower to save water. I’ll let you watch it, and then we’ll discuss:

So here’s the deal. Tom says that this kind of campaign wouldn’t work in North America because North Americans do not pee in the shower.

He thinks that most of us would be super grossed out and that 70 percent of us “would give it a thumbs down”. Sadly, I think he might be right. I mean think of that entire Seinfeld episode where George pees in the public shower? (note that, for the record, I see a pretty big difference between a public shower and the privacy of your own home)

This brings up the whole question of what’s green vs. what’s acceptable. The people who first start doing something (using cloth bags, packing zero waste lunches, making their own yogurt) might be considered a little wacky, but over time, these things become the norm.

I’m thinking that the real issue with peeing in the shower is that you don’t do it in public. There is no one looking over your shoulder affirming that you are doing “the right thing”.  Peer pressure goes a long way. Maybe if we all had water meters, it would be a different matter.

Well, I’m going to come right out and say it: I have peed in the shower. Not specifically to save water nor on a regular basis (maybe that will change now that I’ve seen this video), but I have done it.

So what do you think? Is it scandalous to pee in the shower? Did I just tell you way too much information? Or do you figure all pipes go to the same place, so what the heck?



Filed under Around the house, video

32 responses to “To Pee or Not To Pee

  1. Julie La Salle

    I always pee in the shower at home. I did not know there was some kind of etiquette about peeing in the shower. I don’t pee in public showers. And only because someone might see and disapprove.
    Interesting question.

  2. I’ve never peed in the shower. Although it makes sense there’s something unacceptable about it. I’m not sure what, but there is. Maybe I’ll give it a go and let you know if I feel differently afterwards.

  3. I love that you poasted this! I too have pee’d in the shower but not to conserve water, simply because I just really had to go and hey, you dont even need to wipe (less paper)!!!! A double wammy!!!!

    I think a couple of times though I have thought about whether or not it’s sanitary because I know people would think it was gross. I never have though. So you know what, heres to peeing in the shower, the new way to save!

    LOVE IT!

  4. Surely jumping into the shower every time you need a pee will use up MORE water? :p

  5. That PSA is hilarious! Thanks for sharing, I may have to blog about this, too.

    I will join you in admitting I have peed in the shower, and that was long before I became an environmentalist! Considering urine is sterile and would be rinsed away with soapy water in the shower, there really is no reason (besides squeamishness) not to do this. But if we’re going to talk about water conservation, I have to mention that taking shorter showers and using high efficiency shower heads help a lot, too. I think traditional shower heads dispense 10 litres of water per minute! Yikes.

  6. em

    I LOVE IT. I will show this to my squeamish partner who thinks its okay to share bathwater after washing your bum in it, but does not feel comfortable getting in the shower if I have peed in it. go figure. the save water-shower with a friend technique might not mesh so well with this technique.

  7. I’ve never peed in the shower. But I think I have a better solution for shower water wasting.

    My shower actually is a half-size bathtub, so I block the sink with a plug when I take a shower, so the water remains in the bathtub (about 100 litres). Then I use this grey water to refill the WC, with a electric pump. When I flush the WC, the pump is activated and reloads the WC deposit with grey water from the bathtub. The good thing is that you can take a bit longer shower, because you don’t feel you’re wasting water.

    The only bad thing is that the bathtub is filled with water most of the time, so some visitors could find this a weird thing. And perhaps in summer could attract mosquitoes if you keep the windows open. But it’s the better way to re-use all this grey water. You can make this thing with some DIY, or look for market solutions for grey water.

  8. I don’t know. In my case, I have roommates. (potentially the musician scenario, but also potentially the half-man/half-monster scenario). I can’t be sure I could convince them that this was an acceptable practice. And if I started to pee secretly, and they found out… oh, roommate drama.

    On the other hand, I work with Katimavik – where we jam a dozen youth into a single house for six months. If they could buy in, think of the saved flushes! Most of my groups follow the mellow yellow rule, but could I get them to step up?

    I’m going to ponder this, and how to make it seem cool to pee in the shower. Hilarious video, thanks for sharing!

    • Alison

      I just completed Katimavik and although im not too sure 11 youth are going to want to pee and shower in the same shower as each other. My group agreed to try military showers. It not only lessened the amountof water we were using but also shortened the amount of time people were spending in the showers. Its just an idea.

  9. When I discussed your post with my husband he raised an issue that also came to my mind. Is household waste water, ie from sinks, baths, showers etc, subject to the same rigorous treatment as toilet waste. If not, is it sufficient to get rid of the nasties? I note from a comment above that urine is sterile. But what about the nitrogen etc Maybe the system could cope with just a few people peeing in the shower, but what if everyone started to do so?

    • In response to Gareth Rae’s comment about how household waste water is treated, yes, the same rigorous procedures are applied to all used water from homes – it is all collected into one main pipe that empties into the sewage system. So it doesn’t matter where you pee, it will get treated.

  10. Amanda

    I have to share this video, my husband would be happy to see that something I have teased him about in the past might be helping him do his part 😛

  11. Oh my! Well I’m actually a long-soak-in-a-hot-tub kind of girl as opposed to the quick-shower variety… and I certainly won’t be peeing in my bathwater any time soon! (OK, OK… don’t give me any grief about my bath habit… I’m willing to bet that my 2 soaks per week with sponge baths between use less water than a daily shower would.)

    But, back to the point… a few years back I did give the shower thing (peeing and all) a try. Now you have to bear in mind that I don’t use the shower very often, so maybe if things were getting rinsed out more often this wouldn’t happen, but words cannot describe the disgusting wretchedness that the peed upon shower mat became. Seriously, I ended up having to throw it out because it was just disgusting beyond belief. Maybe it was just mildew, but I can’t help but think that the pee had a little bit to do with it.

  12. Done it! It makes sense, as long as there are not too many baths going on… Love the video, the kids’ voices were so cute!

  13. OK, well, yes, I’ve done it. When I’m already showering anyway. But I assume you’re not suggesting getting in the shower every time you need to go? Or are you? Because that could get to be a hygiene problem, unless you run water, and then you’re back to using water. But in our family of five–maybe everyone already does this?–we save toilet water by not flushing unless there’s something, well, solid, too flush. You know, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down…”

    And no, it’s not too much information. When it comes to this stuff, we can’t be squeamish. It’s all about habits and ingrained ideas about what’s clean or polite or otherwise. All that can be changed.

  14. Love the video – what a great PSA – definitely done it. Great time saver! : )

    what a great post – thanks for sharing!

  15. clay

    Forget it. I have two kids and a cat and the only person who cleans the shower is me! Oh ya my wife already pees in the shower and I get to go in after her and splash around–it stinks. I say pee in the bowel and only flush once per day. I say follow the advice that they teach all four year olds now– If it is yellow let it mellow if it is brown flush it down!

  16. Dianne

    Kids pee in the shower. Nobody has to convince them to do it, just try getting them to stop (uh, it can be a little annoying if you are sharing the shower with them). So, there is no need to teach anyone to do it, just don’t teach them to stop doing it. I think we are a little too disconnected from reality; after all, we discharge poo and pee and a whole host of other things on a daily basis and yet we freak when we are reminded of it. Not too long ago suburban lots still had outhouses in the backyard and farms had barns attached to the house where both the animal and human residents used the same facilities. No toilets at all. Peeing in the shower is not that radical. Just normal.

  17. Danielle

    I have always peed in the shower. I wouldn’t do it in a public environment, but instead of using the toilet first thing in the morning, I hop in for my shower. I’m multi-tasking and saving water.

  18. I also always pee in the shower and have done for as long as I remember. Using the old ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If’s brown, flush it down.’ for the toilet is also a great idea that I use at home….even for guests!

  19. I often pee in the shower! Don’t tell the family, though! They would be totally grossed out.

    On the flip side, though, I also scrub the tub with baking soda every time I shower so that the tub is actually cleaner after MY shower than after anyone else’s!

  20. rhy

    this video is awesome. . . . I’m not admitting to anything one way or anther but just to throw it out there. . . my swim coach growing up used to tell us to pee on our feet in the public showers when we forgot our flip-flops because the pee would kill the germs that caused warts, etc. . . maybe there are good reasons to start peeing in public too– for yourself and the environment.

  21. Nikson

    I pee in the shower and have been doing it since I was a kid. I thought everyone pee in the shower until I read the messages here 🙂

  22. I pee in the shower all the time. We also use the “let it mellow” method, so I guess I just do it out of convenience. I also hate peeing on a toilet when I’m wet, like a post shower or swim bathroom break.

  23. Max

    Jane’s Addiction wrote a song about standing in the shower peeing. If it made it into mainstream music culture back in the early 90’s can it be so incredibly awful?

  24. Christina

    Not only does peeing in the shower save the flush water but it also saves toilet paper at least for us gals. 🙂

  25. Amy

    oh man, not only do i pee in the shower, but i often pick my nose in the shower, too. haa. i feel like if both of these are done at the beginning of a shower, no evidence should remain when you’re done. and you use soap anyway, right?
    plus, i let it mellow if it’s yellow. it’s kind of satisfying, like being just a wee bit rebellious (pun totally accidental).

  26. Meredith Thomas

    Sorry if this offends some, but don’t let that precious resource (urine) go down the drain! It is the best liquid organic fertilizer–free! Don’t worry, it’s sterile too. As a vegetable gardener, I’ve learned that plants thrive on the NPK provided by urine. I love feeding the plants that in turn feed me. AND, no flushing a precious resource down the toilet with another precious resource–water! Some people might be squeamish, but then shouldn’t they also be squeamish about cow poop or chicken poop or fish emulsion? So, ladies…figure out a way to “capture” your pee, and gentlemen…head outside! BTW: urine:water is about 1:10.

    • Odina Skartados

      Meredith, I am really interested on this! Do you just directly put the pee on the pots? Or do you wait for it to cool and then mix with water as you say – 1:10? Thank you in advance for your answer 🙂

  27. Tania S.

    When I was much younger I dated a guy (clean house and well kept shower) who’s shower smelt like a urinal. The smell was horrible and I had to ask “why does your shower smell like pee?” “Maybe because I pee in the shower.” I do understand this potentially becoming the norm but some heavy cleaning would have to come into play. Now I’m married and we have a home. In an effort to save water usage we try and keep flushing to a bare minimum. If anyone is home during the day and/or evening and only having to pee, no one flushes the “pee” toilet. Number two’s usually happen in the morning so it works. We do the same throughout the night. We all just have to pee during the night so in the morning we flush the toilet. We save lots of flushes that way and it’s also much less noisy when people are sleeping. 🙂

  28. Odina Skartados

    Hehe, I guess I arrived a little bit late to the conversation, but still wanted to share. I am from Mexico and, at least in my family, we do pee in the shower (we do not have a problem with that, even though we are 5 and share the same bathroom – small apartment). The important thing here is to try hard and “hit the target”. If not, at least be sure you are washing out the pee that did not achieve that (trying not to use a lot of water, of course), and naturally don’t just go peeing around the shower and “irrigating” the whole space, like nobody cares! But today, reading your post, you made me think – what if I could use a feminine urinary device to “hit the target” every time I need to pee, and not only when I am taking a shower? In my house, I mean (I wouldn’t go -yet- peeing showers everywhere).
    I would love to know your opinion 🙂
    Great site!

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