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A Comedy of Errors

Notes on Conservation in European Hostel Bathrooms

View Erin and Megan Do Europe on meganselby's travel map.

One of the consistently different things about Europe and US (as I've been able to tell in my first week here) in the drive towards conservation. The place this has been most apparent to me is in the bathrooms. Almost every faucet I've come into contact with is the kind where you push the button and the water comes on for a brief 1-10 seconds. I suppose the thought is that you will become so annoyed at having to push the button over and over to get water that you will try to get your business done faster.

In the hostel in Dublin these fixtures were present not only on the sinks but also in the shower. The water would last about 15 seconds and then if you wanted more water you had to push it again, and again, and again.

  • Note about me: I like the Earth. I try to conserve. The one place though where I allow myself to let Captain Planet down though is in the shower. Ask any roommate I've ever had. I take seriously long showers. I would say it's a guilty pleasure, but I don't actually feel guilty about it.*

So, I was not the biggest fan of this shower that kept shutting off on me. Eventually, I realized if I just pushed the button after14 seconds that it wouldn't shut off. Brilliant. I did finish my shower quicker than usual though as it was a pest to keep up the button pushing.

Then, I arrived in London at the Palmer's Lodge Hostel... they have such special showers here and a slightly different take on conservation. Instead of conserving water, Palmer's focuses on conserving energy by making their lights motion sensative. So when you go in the bathroom for instance the light comes on when you enter. But if you're sitting in the bathroom for a while, for whatever reason, the light may go off and you'll be forced to wave your hands around or else sit in the dark.

These motion detectors are also in the shower stalls. So I get in the shower and after about 10 seconds the light goes out. "What the..." I move towards the door and then the light comes on. Realize though that between the door and the shower is this changing area so it was a bit of movement before the light came on. Anyway I go back to showering and the light goes off again, and again, and again. I start to move from side to side while sudsing up just to keep the detectors happy and develop this Rainman-like sway. So I'm in the shower, looking something like Dustin Hoffman circa 1988 and then I go to shave my legs. I don't know how other people shave, but i put my leg up on the wall. So while I'm standing on one leg, shaving, I don't move very much. After the first couple of strokes of the razor, you guessed it, the lights go out. I can't keep up my Rainman-like sway on one leg so I have to wave my arms wildly in the air. It takes a good 5 seconds of waving before I finally catch the sensor. And of course this happens again and again. I'm pretty sure this particular motion detector was set for very tall people because I have to really stretch my arms up there to activate the thing. What normally takes me 2 minutes, lasts a good 8 minutes from having to stop, wave, and occasionally re-soap because I had to put my leg down to wave my arms high enough.

My conclusion about conservation in European bathrooms is that they should really focus on water conservation. It was definitely more effective and less annoying to push a button than to do a very uncoordinated dance in the shower. Tell your representatives Brits.


PS - If you ever think it might be a good idea to dry your long hair in one of those new hand driers where you stick your hands down into the dryer and it blasts you from both sides, think again. Tangle-city.

Posted by meganselby 01:43 Archived in England Tagged ecotourism

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No comment on megan in the shower.

26-02 24th ave.
Astoria, NY 11102

by Scotty

HILARIOUS!!!! i remember in ireland that there was also this box i had to push or string to pull that would heat up the hot water... they didn't want to have the water heaters on all the time or something like that. what about those weird european plug outlets? how's that working out? my favorite part about energy conservation is how individual it is. oh stupidity. take those guiltless showers, it's the corporations, not your consumption that is destroying the planet :-)

in other news, you photos are so great. you look like you're having soooo much fun. boston is certainly sunnier but europe looks significantly less filled with work than home does. as for biking... y'all should buy a couple of mad cheap bikes somewhere and then take them around with you. also, check out athens indymedia to find some things going on with the amazing anarchists while you're there (maybe make out with incredibly HOT anarchaboysgirls) http://athens.indymedia.org/?lang=en lots of love to y'all.


omg i have experienced those push button showers! no fun, especially when the water is ONLY COLD! (switzerland, '02)

i do, however, love the motion detectors that power escalators and the lights in regular sized rooms!

by dora

While swaying back and forth did you also starting thinking about what time Wapner was on and how good of driver you are?

by Sean

i just peed myself

by abbey10s

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