Easy ways to live a more sustainable life - Tip 1 - Cold showers

I am looking at positive changes that I can make to reduce my own personal waste. In particular I am looking at the logic behind the decisions and positive knock on effects.

What I am already finding is the more I take a look at my own behaviours the more I see room for improvement and the more I learn about the subject of sustainability (pretty obvious I guess!)

Now the change I am discussing in this article may seem like a bit of a hardship but read on and give it some consideration. This small change can save you money, make you healthier, look better, feel stronger, more balanced and more energised!

All whilst helping the environment, the perfect WIN-WIN!

WIN-WIN is pretty much my guiding philosophy of life!

Environmental and Sustainability Tip 1 - Cold Showers

A common theme of my married life has been my wife complaining about how much time I spend having a nice hot shower. I justified it on the basis that I lead a frantic life, running a business and sharing the responsibility for bringing up 3 young children and this was a couple of minutes of calm, relaxation that helped me to focus and get ready to face the world.

Quite reasonable I thought, until she pointed out her life was even busier and she needed to shower. Fair point!

So, as I sat considering positive changes, taking a cold shower wasn’t first on my list, particularly in these cold months, however the arguments for doing so are fairly powerful.

My average shower length was about 7-8 minutes at a nice warm temperature, gradually increasing as I could tolerate it.

I found that the cost of this would be approximately 22p per shower but that only 40% of this cost was for the actual energy. This cost information was derived from Cambridge water and taken in 2015 so some there will be some variances, but it gives you an idea.

Switching to a cold shower radically reduced the amount of time I spent in the shower, I am never in for much over 2 minutes now and the cost has dropped to under 5p in water and energy costs. So, a quick calculation; I take around 400 showers a year, (I am pretty clean) so that’s a nice £68 saving.

I am not going to pretend I am on the breadline so £68 a year would not be enough to convince me to do something I hated for a year. However, I found that I was much more awake and ready for the day after a cold shower. Each day it has felt more comfortable. If I was honest hot showers were nice at the time but often left me feeling a bit groggy afterwards.

The WIN-WIN

Further motivation came from ‘the Worlds fittest book’ by Ross Edgely, (every year after a heavy Christmas, I pledge to get super fit!). Ross explains how he incorporated the wisdom of different training, with eating and recovery methods both new and old to achieve unbelievable feats of endurance.

One that stuck in my mind was his use of cold therapy and a breathing technique to boost his immune system. It was devised by a Dutch guy called Wim Hof, nicknamed ‘the Iceman.’ There seems to be quite a lot of evidence to suggest that limited exposure to the cold can have some really positive health benefits and Ross managed to train continuously and reach new levels without illness for a whole year by using the techniques.

My experience of exercise had always been that if I pushed too much I got depleted and often fell ill, so I was intrigued. Apparently, according to Lizette Borreli in her blog post on Medical Daily the benefits of a cold shower are:

1. Increased alertness

The cold forces deep breathing and extra oxygen into our systems, the result is increased energy throughout the day and a great boost to get started! Momentum is everything!

2. Improves the appearance of skin and hair

Cold showers help us retain healthy natural oils, prevents drying out. It tightens pores and stops them becoming dirty, so definitely good for teenagers and people who are prone to spots. It also helps the flattens hair follicles making the hair grip better and remain stronger.

3. Improve circulation

As the cold water of the shower hits you the arteries become more efficient at pumping blood. This is thought to be better for the skin, heart, immune system and even clear blocked arteries! Wow!

4. Help with fat loss!

In 2009 a study showed that exposing participants to extreme cold activated good fats in their body by a 15-fold increase. A person could potentially lose 9 lbs of fat in a year! It has also been linked to increase in testosterone, which increases muscle building capacity and greater muscle mass increases metabolic rate, i.e. how many calories you continuously burn.

5. Recovery times improve

We have all heard of athletes taking cold baths after exercise, well with good reason. It rapidly increases recovery times and the ability to get back to training. The evidence around this is well documented.

6. Reduces stress

Lizette Borreli says “A 1994 study found a drastic decrease in uric acid levels during and following exposure to a cold stimulus. There was also an increase in gluthathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels. The participants, who were 10 healthy people who swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter, adapted to repeated oxidative stress”

7. Relieves depression

Lizette Borreli stated “A 2008 study found that cold hydrotherapy has an analgesic effect, and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. This treatment included one to two cold showers of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three minutes long, followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.”

Summary

Wow, what an unbelievable array of benefits from a positive life change. What initially appears a hardship improves your life in so many ways. I am a week in and I certainly feel more alert and focussed. As for the other aspects, well, the science speaks for its self!

This was change number 1. I rate this as easy to implement, once you get used to it, it really is no hardship at all!

Ease rating 1.5 (1 being easy to adopt 5 being hard)

Total savings from changes so far:

  1. Cold Showers = 464kw/hours and £68 per year

Total money saved so far:

  • £68 per annum

Next change: Getting rid of disposable coffee cups

A quick plug for what my business, we create WIN-WIN scenarios for organisations, reducing paper towel waste, costs and the associated carbon footprint. A study showed that 2 paper towels produce 15 grams of Co2, our hand dryers can reduce each dry to as little as 1 gram of co2 and save 98% cost. We help organisations finance the initial investment out of the savings, so there is no budget to be found. A complete win-win for your bottom line and the environment.


Andy needs your tips. Let us know in the comments what you have been doing so that we can look at trying them out as a team.

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Written by: Andrew Cameron

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