Given the planet’s increasingly fraught water supply, five minutes is the environmentally correct length of a shower.
Americans tend to spend an average of 8.2 minutes in the shower. To shave off those extra 3.2 minutes, conservation organizations have offered up suggestions ranging from setting an egg timer to limiting your shower jam sessions to one five-minute song.
Still, it’s a drag. The ability to truly luxuriate in a 45-minute shower—long enough for a whole water-themed playlist—seems a relic of a bygone era, when the knowledge of how badly we were screwing the planet was still only an itch at the back of our collective consciousness.
But a team of Finnish designers have hit upon a product that bridges the gap between luxury and sustainability. The Showerloop is a build-it-yourself system that reuses water that would otherwise end up in the drain, allowing for guilt-free, theoretically limitless showers.
It works by collecting water before it hits the floor of the shower, sending it through several purifying filters and out through the head in a continuous loop. Because the system is self-contained, the designers recommend using any water caught mid-cycle at the end of a shower for other household needs, like laundry or flushing the toilet.
Jason Selvarajan and a small team designed the Showerloop last summer at POC21, an “innovation camp” hosted at a French castle with the goal of developing ideas that “overcome the destructive consumer culture and make open-source, sustainable products the new normal.”
While the design itself is new, Selvarajan tells Fast Company that a limitless shower is something he’s been turning around in his head for a while. He remembers:
...being quite young, like 10 or something and thinking, this is just silly: I'm already clean but I don’t want to get out of the shower just yet. Why not just have a pump to circulate the warm water around and around until I’m happy to leave the shower.
A DIY kit—including the filters and a showerhead—is available for purchase, but the team has also made the design open source so people have the option to independently reproduce the technology themselves, with one caveat: that if you do so, you share you findings with the team. The open lines of communication, Selvarajan tells Fast Company, will lead to an even better, more sustainable product.
DIY water recycling kit, $1,600 (1,500 Euros) at showerloop.org.