As a columnist for The Michigan Daily, I’m not supposed to discuss internal Daily issues in my work. However, the debate frequently reignited at our elections has arisen yet again, and I feel the dilemma is too important to keep from our readers. So, to our audience, I pose the question: Is it acceptable to urinate in the shower?
Perhaps I will receive backlash for this position, but, nonetheless, I must remain loyal to my morals and proclaim that I take the affirmative stance in this debate. Peeing in the shower promotes environmental consciousness and personal hygiene, and those who do so should not be viewed in a negative light.
To do your part in protecting the environment, save a trip to the toilet for your shower. While a toilet flush uses between 1.28 and seven gallons of water, a shower urination only uses around .875 gallons of water, which means substituting a toilet flush for a minimally longer shower saves somewhere between 0.405 and 6.125 gallons of water. It may not seem like much, but that slight change in behavior could support the average person in Mali for up to two days. Unlike those in Mali, though, the average American uses around 156 gallons of water each day. Given the average person urinates six to eight times per day, we can assume that between 7.68 and 56 of those gallons are used in toilet flushes. Eliminating one daily toilet flush, then, could reduce daily water consumption significantly, prolonging our dwindling water supply and saving you money on your water bill.
For many of us, emptying the bladder constitutes the use of toilet paper. On average, we use between eight and nine sheets of toilet paper per trip, meaning we flush 48 to 72 sheets each day. Saving a trip’s worth of toilet paper each day by peeing in the shower can significantly reduce deforestation by making each roll of toilet paper last longer, reducing the need for as much toilet paper production. So, by peeing in the shower, we not only save water, but we save the trees.
Despite the environmental benefits of relieving oneself in the shower, it seems as though the primary argument against the practice is that it’s somehow unsanitary. However, most medical experts dispute this claim. Urine is mostly water, so rinsing it down the shower drain is not dissimilar from rinsing soapy water down the drain. Urine is not actually sterile, but the bacteria it contains is safe for the body, like the bacteria found in one’s mouth or intestines. Peeing in the shower is only a risk if you have a urinary tract infection, and a very low one at that, as the bacteria can spread to the surrounding environment. In a normal, UTI-free circumstance, however, saving a toilet trip for the shower is perfectly safe.
In my experience, though, some are less concerned about the medical safety of peeing in the shower and more about the general “grossness” of it. To put it bluntly, they don’t like the idea that, by peeing in the shower, they’re peeing on themselves. However, I would argue that if you pee in the shower prior to cleansing your body, urination is less “gross” when done in the shower than when done in the toilet. Depending on one’s anatomy, when peeing in the toilet, one generally either uses toilet paper to rid the body of any remaining urine, or they do not use anything at all. Conversely, by peeing in the shower, one fully washes their body with soap and water after urination, which is arguably a more effective method of cleansing than toilet paper or nothing at all.
The reasons why peeing in the shower is cleaner than peeing in a toilet do not end there, though. Research indicates that only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after going to a public bathroom, so one can only imagine that these numbers are much lower in a private setting. However, urinating in the shower essentially forces you to wash your hands, as you follow the emptying of your bladder with a thorough washing of the entire body, hands included. Peeing in the shower rids your body and hands of urine and other bacteria more effectively than peeing in a toilet does.
None of this is to say you should pee exclusively in the shower — I would venture to guess that would be inconvenient for most adequately hydrated people. I am simply suggesting that you relieve yourself each time you shower to minimize toilet flushes. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet and it’s perfectly sanitary, so why wouldn’t you?
Given that this debate remains a heated one in The Daily’s newsroom, I encourage any of my fellow Opinion columnists with the opposing viewpoint to write a response — some internal issues deserve to be made public, especially ones with such importance and urgency as this one.
Ilana Mermelstein is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.