Germans should use washcloths instead of taking showers so often, says German regional Green Party PM

Election posters show Winfried Kretschmann from the Greens and the party's top candidate for the Baden-Wurttemberg federal state elections in Mannheim, Germany, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The elections will take place next Sunday. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
By John Cody
3 Min Read

Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) has asked citizens not to shower so much in the future in order to save on energy during Germany’s gas crisis.

“Even the washcloth is a useful invention,” the Green politician told Südwest-Presse.

He said he sees himself as a role model when it comes to saving energy. “I have an electric car, I have a huge photovoltaic system on the roof.”

He also ordered a pellet-heating system for his home. According to contractors, these devices cost an average of between €14,000 and €21,000 in a single-family home. However, there are also much more expensive models.

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Wired magazine reports that these devices rely primarily on wood pellets sourced from forests in the southeastern United States. They are then shipped halfway around the world to individuals like Kretschmann despite many scientists arguing that these pellets are just as polluting as coal. Although they come from a renewable resource, forests are cut down across the U.S. to make this resource, and according to Greenpeace, the practice destroys biodiversity and ruins entire ecosystems. Scientists estimate it takes between 44 to over 100 years for these forests to grow back, and for those worried about climate change, they say this destruction of natural forests will cost the planet immeasurably.

“We usually only heat one room. It’s also healthier if you don’t have the same temperature everywhere in the house,” said Kretschmann.

He was, however, self-critical about his eating habits. “I still have room for improvement when it comes to reducing meat consumption.”

The comments have sparked a massive amount of criticism from the German public and officials.

“Our country faces an energy crisis that threatens the prosperity of millions of people! And what is the answer of the green father Kretschmann? Don’t shower every day: ‘The #Waschlappen is also a useful invention.’ What kind of people actually govern Germany?” asked Gerhard Papke, the president of the German-Hungarian Society in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Most recently, Kretschmann presented a five-point plan to combat the lack of gas in his state. In public buildings, for example, air conditioning systems are to be switched off and the maximum room temperature lowered in winter. Business trips should be made by train if possible.

After the interview, the #Waschlappen hashtag (German for “washcloth”) went viral on Twitter, with over 7,000 tweets.

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