I'll cut right to the chase for those of you who are confused by the title of this post. I was thinking in the shower this morning that the water I use to wet and rinse my hair when washing it makes up the vast majority of the water I use when I bathe, and this made me wonder whether choosing to keep it long is an environmentally unfriendly act.
Unlike Rapunzel, my hair isn't blonde, and compared to her, I have nothing to complain about when it comes to keeping my mane tamed. There's a reason they don't show her washing and drying her hair in last year's Tangled animated movie: it would have eaten up half of the running time! Still, my hair is thick and long (down to the middle/small of my back, and not layered), at least by non-fairy tale standards, and because I've used conventional hair products so sparingly over the years and only ever dyed my hair once, it's in very good condition. Since it suits me at this length, there's simply no need to change my hair style. Until I consider the water and energy waste involved in maintaining it!
This summer I've been really good with turning off the shower while I lather shampoo into my hair, but rinsing it and the occasional conditioner out requires a lot of water, especially since my hair is so thick. My showers seem to take forever! On days when I don't need to wash my hair (thankfully, two days out of three) I can zip in and out of the shower in a minute or two. Hair washing days... I'd rather not admit how long I spend under the running water.
Then there's the drying. I'm happy to let the heat and sun of the summer take care of that, but it's just not an option in colder weather. A hair dryer is necessary so I don't freeze to death in the winter, and I don't think those gadgets come in energy efficient models. Even so, it takes 20-25 minutes to get my hair completely dry. Please don't make me calculate the kW use associated with that process two to three times a week!
The question is, should my environmental ideals trump my aesthetic ideals? Maybe my long hair isn't an aesthetic ideal as much as a vanity-driven obsession. After all, the more often I am complimented for my hair, the bigger my ego gets. In that case, taking the plunge and opting for a very short hair style for green reasons seems acceptable and potentially good for my modesty. If I'm already the type of person who doesn't wear make-up, rarely accessorizes my wardrobe with matching jewellery, and almost never applies polish to my nails, why put so much importance on my hair? On the other hand, this feels like a pretty drastic move.
I'm stumped - what should I do?
Photo of Rapunzel doll used under Creative Commons from Jenny (jollyserenity27/flickr).
Photo of long hair being cut used under Creative Commons from alachia (flickr).