11.17.11Martha Golea

Uninvited parenting advice

LaurenConradrainbowhairimage from

Sometimes good kids want purple hair. And I’m here to tell you that you should let them have it, for the sake of water conservation. The world needs your teenager to have wild hair!

Here’s why:

  1. Your teenager wants to be an individual.
  2. Your teenager probably thinks you are suppressing his/her individuality.
  3. Your teenager most likely stands in the shower until the hot water runs out every day, contemplating how your lameness is going to ruin them. (The key being the hot water runs out.)

Being conservative, I’d say an average teenager showers approximately 20 minutes per day. With a modern low-flow shower head that’s a whopping 50 gallons of hot water, up to 80 gallons with an older shower head. If you can figure out how to measure your frustration in gallons as well, add that to the equation. (Saving water isn’t complicated)

Let’s kill 3 birds with 1 stone here, ok? Hot water is the arch nemesis of hair dye; nothing fades haircolor faster than a nice steaming shower. So I suggest you let your teenager get red streaks, green highlights,  blue ombre, or whatever makes them happy. Make them pay for the treatment so they’re really invested in this or it won’t work.

Now, do you know how obnoxious it is trying not to get your hair wet in the shower? It’s awful! If you’re thinking “Haven’t you ever heard of a shower cap?” the answer is (yes, I have, BUT) your kids probably haven’t, so don’t mention it to them. You have so much power.

Here’s the scientific proof that my theory works:

A couple months ago I dyed my blonde hair purple*. Everyone warned me it would fade right away if I washed in hot water but doggone it, I paid for that purple hair and I wanted it to last forever!

Pre-purple hair I showered around 10 minutes per day, using approximately 25 gallons of hot water each time. From day one with purple hair I cut my shower time down to 4 minutes warm, 1 minute cold, cutting my water usage to only 12.5 gallons! I didn’t even do it on purpose; I just didn’t want to mess up my awesome hair and there’s no such thing as a long, chilly shower.

Let’s apply this to your teen, now.

If she gets those sweet pink streaks she’s been begging for:

  1. She looks totally unique.
  2. You ARE the coolest parent in town.
  3. Her shower time drops to 10 minutes, maybe even 5. (Water is Free) You save somewhere from 37.5 to 60 gallons a day. Per teenager. Not to mention all the through-the-door arguments you avoid.

Not too shabby, right?

Give it a try! And if you do, please let me know how it works out. I need more data for my research.



*I know what you’re thinking: crazy colored hair = rebellion, bad grades, working in a tattoo parlor, etc. So I’d like to point out that I have a college degree, a fabulous job and zero tattoos OR piercings. Like I said, sometimes good kids just want purple hair.

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Martha Golea

A seasoned communicator passionate water conservationist, Martha Golea tracks projects in progress and reports on usage of new and exploratory irrigation technology and water management strategies. In addition to contributing to customer newsletters and creating case studies of our work, Martha also creates tools that help educate customers and the community on landscape maintenance best practices.



  1. Thursday, 6:54 Alan Harris

    This made me laugh and think of my teenage daughter who is a freshman in college. Not because she ever asked for purple hair, but when she left for college my water bill and natural gas bill both dropped in half. My advice to parents is a tankless water heater is a two way street. You will never run out of hot water, but then again neither will your teenager! As always love your posts and your tweets!

  2. Thursday, 8:43 Taylor Harris

    Thanks so much Dad! I’ll be sure to make up for all that lost time in the shower when I’m home in a few days for Thanksgiving. You also neglected to tell the readers how large yours and moms bathtub is; given how often y’all use the bathtub I wonder how many gallons it takes to fill it hmm?..

  3. Thursday, 11:17 phemo

    Really interesting. In retrospect I was the crazier sibling and the crazier ones are the ones who are in most cases likely to raise the bills more than anyone else in the family. they are the ones who prefer to use the shower than the bath tub (yes, till the hot water runs out). they will sing in the shower, dance unaware of the misuse regardless of being members of the conservation club in school.
    Two thumbs up to coloured hair.
    * BA in economics & Public Admiistration – went to a private grammar school and did well in all my exams ;-)

  4. Friday, 7:44 Carol

    So perhaps that amazing forest-green hair I once had was actually a catalyst for my career in water conservation. Brilliant!

  5. Friday, 8:01 Richard Restuccia

    Martha, great post and I am all for shorter showers. Think of all the water my generation is saving because we have almost no hair. I also agree sometimes kids just have to be kids.

    Taylor – Thanks for the great insight. I have heard rumors about the shower, but not the tub.

  6. Monday, 2:23 Martha Golea

    @Alan and Taylor: I’m sort of honored that my post has sparked a family feud! Let’s hear more about this bathtub! Taylor could guest-blog for us…

    @phemo: Thanks for confirming that I’m not alone in this. It’s really cool that your school had a conservation club, even if it’s message wasn’t exactly hitting home with some members! The club must have done some good though, if you’re interested in conservation a little later in life, right? Have you read Kelly’s post about how he got his start in water management? It’s one of my favorites:

    @Richard: I’m still laughing about your comment several days later. Thank you to everyone who doesn’t have much hair; you all get bonus points!! I can’t recall for sure, but I bet The Blue Green Book has a few lines about saving water by having short hair. Have you read it yet???

  7. Thursday, 9:18 Ben Green

    Martha, THIS IS AWESOME!!!!

    I am here to provide you with more valuable data. I have a college degree, a great job, no tattoos, no piercings and I am a loving father. My senior year of high-school, I died my hair at least a dozen times. Green for St. Patrick’s Day, Red for Christmas, Yellow for prom to match my yellow rose Boutonniere, Pink for easter, I could go on and on. My hair coloring of choice was Manic Panic and I was lucky if the color stayed in for a week. I resorted to eliminating shampoo, taking cooler showers, whatever would save me the $12 for a new color. I was a swimmer so short of rinsing off the chlorine, I cut down my shower time to about a minute. Your philosophy is undeniable. Save water, let those colors fly.

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