Kids can conserve water and lead the charge in making your home a water-wise place!
We know many kids love to play games with water, especially in the hot summer months when it's a fun way to beat the heat. But with many areas experiencing droughts and kids in many parts of the world unable to access clean water, it's important for kids to see H20 as a precious resource. But that doesn't mean saving water is a chore—in fact, it's fun for kids to be the agents of change. Armed with these fun methods to save water, put your kids in charge of policing family water usage and saving water in the bathroom, kitchen, yard, and laundry room. You can even let them give you a ticket when they catch you wasting water!
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Save water by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth!
How Kids Can Conserve Water in the Bathroom
1. Dye your toilet to find a leak
Put a drop or two of food coloring in the tank of the toilet. Don't flush for at least 15 minutes. Then, check to see if the water in the bowl is still clear or if it has changed to the color you've put in the toilet tank. If the water has changed colors, you're using more water than you need to and you should fix the leak!
2. Go as long as you can without taking a shower or bath
Kids love this one! Children who haven't reached puberty yet really don't need to bathe or shower every day. Unless they're visibly dirty or have been swimming, twice a week should be plenty. Siblings can have a contest to see who the first one is to make it to four days. (Parents can be referees for stinkiness!)
3. Find out how much more water is used by bathing instead of showering
Kids can close the drain, then take a shower. See how far up the bathtub is filled at the end of the shower. Is it as much as when you take a bath? Try setting a timer to see how much water is in the tub after a five-minute shower, an eight-minute shower, or a 10-minute shower. Do you fill the tub less if you turn off the water while you're lathering your hair and body? Most showers use 10 to 25 gallons of water, while baths take about 70, so kids should see a big difference!
4. Turn off the water while brushing teeth and soaping hands
You can also close the sink drain to see how much water you might be wasting if you leave it running while brushing your teeth or lathering up the soap for your hands. Just because we wash our hands for 20 seconds doesn't mean the water has to be on the whole time.
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Just stop running the tap! You can wash fruit and veggies in a shallow bowl of water.
How Kids Can Conserve Water in the Kitchen
5. Put your dish straight into the dishwasher
Pre-rinsing dishes wastes a lot of water, and washing by hand is much less efficient than the dishwasher. So tell kids they can scrape dishes into the compost (see below) and then skip rinsing and put dishes straight in the dishwasher!
6. Rinse fruits and veggies in a bowl of water instead of running water
Kids can offer to help prep dinner and show parents how to fill a bowl with water to rinse produce. Once the fruits and veggies are clean, the leftover water can go to your plants or yard.
7. Compost leftover produce
Hands away from the garbage disposal! You don't have to run the water to put fruit and veggie peels into the compost bin. Plus, you can use the compost to grow more fruits and veggies! Even if you don't have a ton of space or live in a city apartment, you can get a cute, hidden under-the-sink compost bin and dump the contents into your city's green compost bins.
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Ice cubes are water, and you can use them to water plants in the house and yard.
8. Play hide-the-ice-cube
Did you accidentally drop an ice cube on the floor, or is there ice left over after you finished a lemonade? Hide it in a houseplant or the garden—don't dump it down the drain.
9. Decorate and refrigerate your own water bottle
Instead of getting a new glass for each time you want to drink water, find a water bottle that you can decorate yourself, then fill it with water and place it in the fridge. Don't let the water run to cool it down, just fill it and put it in the fridge. At the end of the day, if you haven't finished the water in your bottle, use it to water plants.
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Use one glass per person, per day, and never fill them more than half full!
10. Use one glass all day, and only fill it half full
Don't like water bottles at the table? Designate a different glass for every member of the family and only use that one glass all day. Kids are notorious at my house for asking for a full glass of water, taking a sip, and pouring the rest down the drain. Remind kids to only fill glasses half full, sip from them all day, and then pour any water left at bedtime into a houseplant!
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Nature, not sprinklers: a day at the beach, lake, or pool is actually better for the environment.
Make Outdoor Water Conservation a Game
11. Go to the pool or beach instead of filling a pool or playing in the sprinklers at home
Most kiddie pools use more than 120 gallons of water, and sprinklers use about 12 gallons of water per minute. If you don't have a pool or beach near your house, be sure to empty the water onto the area of the yard that needs the most water if you need a kiddie pool or sprinkler to cool off.
12. Set up a rain barrel
Many cities sell rain barrels that can be attached to gutters and downspouts to collect water during storms. Kids can use chalk or paint to decorate the rain barrel, and use the collected water to water plants or wash cars or bikes. Even when it's not the rainy season, you might be surprised by how much dew can accumulate overnight.
13. Speaking of washing your car or bike...
Find a bucket and fill it halfway with water and a few drops of (eco-friendly) soap to wash your car or bike. Empty the water into the grass, then fill it again to rinse the car. No need to turn on the hose!
Water Conservation in the Laundry Room
14. Rewear favorite clothes and reuse towels
Most non-sweaty, non-stained clothes can be worn more than once, and towels can be hung to dry and used multiple times. Make a goal of three wears for pants and two for shirts and towels, and see who can go the longest before filling their laundry basket.
15. Play laundry cop: wait until there's a full load to do laundry
While we don't recommend stuffing the washer past capacity, kids can help do less laundry by not getting upset if their favorite shirt or princess dress is dirty or not demanding their lovey get its own ride in the washer. They can also make a game out of sorting similar colored clothes that can be washed at the same heat setting on laundry day.
Games to Encourage Water Conservation
16. Chart who saves the most water
Have each member of the family place a sticker on a chart for each one of these tasks that they complete. At the end of the month, count up who has the most stickers. The whole family wins with a lower water bill!
Learn about where the most water is wasted, then test your knowledge with the 8-bit reminiscent maze game.
Unless noted, photos by Sara Marentette