Any parent knows “back-to-school” is one of the most chaotic times of the year. You’re trying to establish new bedtime routines so everyone’s up and ready on time. You’re battling the fall clothing migration (as you store summer items and retrieve fall items, only to realize that none of the clothes your children could wear at the end of spring will fit them now). You have to get supplies and backpacks organized, lunches prepared for and made, and arrange for the new schedule. So… we understand that water conservation is probably going to be pretty far from your mind. But what if it wasn’t? Imagine the great example you could set, showing children how easy and effective good water-saving habits can be! Here’s a list of five simple ways you can work water conservation into the back-to-school routine.
1. Use a timer for showers. Not only will this help save water by limiting everyone to 10 minutes or less, it can also help you keep everyone focused and on time in the mornings, or at bedtime. Replace your existing shower head with a water-saving model for even greater savings.
2. Reuse your towels. When you get out of the shower, you’re clean, right? Instead of tossing towels into the hamper after each use, hang them up to dry and use them again tomorrow. Buy robe hooks or re-purpose an old coat rack to hang in the bathroom, and designate a hook for everyone; most younger children can hang a towel on a hook much more easily than trying to fold and hang one over a traditional bar (which usually results in a mess of bunched-up towels everywhere.)
3. Be mindful of your other laundry. Those jeans from yesterday? Chances are they could probably be worn again before needing to be washed. When undressing, evaluate what’s actually dirty and what could be worn again: you could save not only tons of water, but time and energy by doing less laundry. And who doesn’t want to do less laundry? When you actually do wash a load, always remember to set the appropriate load size and try to use cold water. To save energy, air or line-dry whatever you can.
4. Encourage healthy eating and water-drinking. We’re sure you do this for your kids already, but did you know that by eating fresh foods and drinking water you’re actually helping to save water and energy? Generally, it takes a lot more water to produce processed foods than it does to actually grow food. In addition, purchasing locally grown food cuts back on the amount of water and energy needed to transport it. If your town has a farmer’s market, it’s your best bet for high-quality fruits and vegetables. If money is tight, you’ll be happy to know that many farmers’ markets accept EBT and WIC. Many areas also have free or low-cost community gardens and co-ops that provide fresh, local food.
Another quick, healthy tip that can save many gallons of water per year is to put a pitcher of water in the fridge for drinking, instead of waiting for the tap to run cool into your glass. With this method, you can also add fresh fruits like strawberries, limes, or pineapple to infuse flavor in the water: this can help encourage kids to reach for it instead of sugary juices or sodas!
5. Consider the water footprint of products you use every day and try to make some changes. It’s a complex system, but water and energy are tied very closely together, and it’s sometimes difficult to understand how much water it really takes to make the things we use all the time. Wherever you can, find ways to reuse or recycle things, or create your own reusable items. Cloth shopping bags, reusable lunch baggies or containers, and reusable water bottles can replace their single-use alternatives.
But doesn’t it take water to create and wash those too? Indeed, it does, but the water consumed in creating and washing these reusable items is significantly less than what is wasted to create new single-use items. It’s estimated that it takes about 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic!
If we focus only on one thing – packing lunches for school – think of all the ways you can save water by reusing items:
With simple changes to our daily routines and conscious effort to really think about how we use water, we can all start conserving this most precious resource. Although it might seem difficult or pointless at times, remember that every drop really does count! Your small changes do make a BIG difference.
Want to learn more about saving water around the house? Check out the PlumbingSupply.com Guide to Water-Saving Plumbing Products!