Photo by Steve Johnson:

7 Ways Kids Can Conserve Water

Water is one of our most precious resources. We rely on fresh water for life, but only 3% of the water on earth is fresh water, and most of that is inaccessible. Because of this, teaching kids to appreciate and respect water is important. Here are 7 ways kids can help conserve water.

Teach kids to be thoughtful about laundry. Kids like to express themselves with clothes, and they may try to change outfits many times each day. Try to get kids to stick to one outfit each day unless it’s truly dirty, or encourage kids to put away the clothes they wore for a short period and have them wear that outfit the next day. If it’s not really dirty, it’s okay if it doesn’t get washed right away.

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Consider capturing water that would otherwise be wasted. If you have a way to catch rainwater (either with a rain barrel or some pots on the cement outside), try to capture the water rather than let it flow down a sewer drain. You could even have kids help set houseplants outside in the rain to give them a natural drink. Even without utilizing rainwater, you could rinse vegetables in a bowl of water and then use that water or cooled unsalted cooking water to pour on indoor plants or an outside pollinator garden. Kids can enjoy watching the plants grow and know that the water these plants are using was saved from going down a drain.

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Another way for kids to conserve water is by keeping track of their drinking cup. This could be done in a number of ways: having a specific water bottle for each child, having a certain spot that kids put their water cup when they’re not drinking (at home), or putting a colorful rubber band on their daily cup or water bottle. This helps keep cups distinguishable when there are several kids keeping track of several cups throughout the day. When my nephew stays with me and we have three kids to keep track of, we put red rubber bands on his cup, green rubber bands on my son’s cup, and yellow rubber bands on my daughter’s cup. This leads to far fewer cups being used throughout the day and less water being poured out when dishes are being washed. It also gives them a nice task to focus on and feel empowered by.

Teach kids how they can clean themselves in the shower in a way that is thorough yet efficient. Once they’ve gotten good at cleaning themselves, you can have them sing a song or listen to a certain song while bathing. Over time, this habit can help them remember the steps of bathing as well as stay on track for a quick shower.

Teach kids to always turn off the sink faucet while brushing their teeth. This simple habit can instill in them the value of not using water unnecessarily. Even if it never teaches them anything else, kids can save over 3,000 gallons of water each year by just turning off the faucet when brushing their teeth.

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Another simple way to conserve water would be to flush the toilet less often. Okay, not everyone is going to like this one, but do it if it makes sense for your family. Don’t flush every time you pee. If there’s pee in the toilet prior to you using the facilities, you can flush after you use the toilet. You should also insist that kids flush every time they poop. If flushing is a constant battle in your house, you may choose to postpone limiting flushing until toilet hygiene improves. No judgment here.

Last but not least, have kids play in a kiddie pool, local stream/lake, or a community pool rather than turning on the sprinklers for them to play in. Water play is a lovely way for kids to enjoy the summer weather, but it doesn’t have to be wasteful. By enjoying water that is already available for community use, you won’t feel the urge to turn on sprinkler systems when your yard doesn’t actually need to be watered.

Photo by Juan Salamanca: