Wiederhold: Skipping a shower can save your skin while saving the environment

Having someone find out that you’ve been slacking from your daily shower routine can be one of the most embarrassing things in the world. People may give you weird looks, take a few steps backward from you and maybe even ostracize you completely. Daily showering is one of our society’s most fundamental norms; openly going against it may leave you just about socially doomed. The question I would like answered: How exactly have we come to be this way? One reason is obvious – nobody wants to smell like a goat, let alone have people around them smelling like goats. But the way I see it, unless you’ve just spent an hour at the gym or rolling around in a pile of cow manure, no one will be able to tell if you’ve gone without a shower in the past 24 hours.

If you’re like me and basically spend your days sitting around in academic buildings and reading textbooks, chances are you haven’t accumulated enough stench overnight to make people want to hold their noses as you’re passing by. Honestly, the most vigorous exercise I get is walking to class and pressing the space bar on my keyboard – which, needless to say, is hardly enough to cause me to break a sweat.

I suppose another reason for all this compulsive showering is because it makes you feel healthier. After all, during your shower you’re literally scrubbing away all those nasty germs that have latched onto your body, right? Well, not exactly. Studies by medical researchers have shown that all you’re doing when you’re soaping up in the shower is moving colonies of bacteria around your body or transferring them to your surrounding shower environment rather than actually ridding yourself of them completely. It’s also been shown that showering too frequently can have damaging effects on your skin – it might make your skin dry, irritated and cracked. Showering every other day or so might actually be healthier for you.

Not only is showering every day unnecessary and potentially bad for your skin, it’s blatantly wasteful as well. Think of all the gallons of water you could save if you only showered half as often. If the idea of saving water motivates you to shower less frequently, however, you should be careful that you don’t feel licensed to overdo it when you do shower. Keep in mind that a five-minute shower every day of the week still uses way less water than a 20-minute shower every other day.

The point I’m really hoping to get across is that not showering every day should be more socially acceptable. Showering three times a week instead of seven shouldn’t automatically make someone a “dirty hippie.” I think it’s perfectly fine to skip a shower every now and then, whether it’s intentional or by accident. As long as your smell isn’t offensive, who really cares if you’ve showered or not?