Contributed by Magnolia Potter
For the vast majority of us, our awareness of water peaks in the summer. We use it to stay hydrated throughout the day, stay cool in the summer heat, and have a blast in the sprinkler. Water is the cornerstone of many summer activities.
This focus on water in the summer months can provide a unique, natural backdrop to discussing the importance of water conservation with your kids.
Our world has only a finite amount of usable water. And our ability to sustain life depends on conserving it. Teaching children the importance of conserving water and ways to stop wasting it instills sustainable values into adulthood.
Teaching about water conservation may seem difficult at first. After you have a strong foundational understanding of the issues and can answer your kid’s questions, it becomes easy. Water conservation lessons can come about in any number of ways. Just remember to build a strong foundation, answer questions, and most importantly, keep the learning fun!
What We Should Know About Water
Most developed nations today use more water than they should. The United States, in particular, has a track record of using far more water per person than necessary.
The EPA estimates that over the past half-century, our water use far surpassed sustainable rates. By 2024, 40 of the states in the country may be experiencing water shortages in the summer months, when water demands are highest.
But wait—isn’t nearly two-thirds of the Earth covered with water? I mean, we have these big blue things called oceans. What about glaciers and groundwater? Can’t we meet our water needs with these sources?
Not quite. In fact, the vast majority of that water is completely inaccessible or unusable. This water is either saltwater (which cannot hydrate you); locked up in glaciers that protect our climate from dramatic temperature swings; or deep underground, where it is difficult to extract successfully. Only about 1% of the world’s water is drinkable fresh water, and much of that is wasted or polluted beyond drinkability.
Why Conserve Water?
Water conservation, then, should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Everyone should protect clean water as much as possible. Over the years, researchers linked unclean water to a number of serious health concerns.
Clean drinking water can help reduce instances of cholera and diarrhea, some of the leading causes of death in the world today. Clean water doesn’t necessarily mean completely purifying water. Water naturally contains some minerals that benefit our health. It means removing the dirty, nasty things that can cause illness and spread disease.
Clean and accessible water provides a number of other benefits as well. Growing our food requires water, for example. Available water can also:
- Help reduce world conflicts by limiting disputes over finite resources.
- Improve gender equality by reducing the number of women who spend their days gathering water.
- Promote biodiversity by providing habitats to millions of plants and animals.
- Limit the impact of climate change reducing the impacts of drought.
Who knew clean water could do so much for us?
So you want to take advantage of the summer months to teach kids about water conservation—but where can you get started?
First, educate yourself about water issues and practice water conservation in your home. Turn off the tap, fix leaks, take shorter showers, and only do laundry when you have a full load.
Your kids will learn from your example far more than by what you merely tell them.
As their interest in water conservation grows, involve them in projects that can help build on their foundational knowledge of sustainability. For instance, look for leaks together or ask them of ways they think they could use less water daily. Start projects using sustainable practices. Try starting a garden together and using conservation-oriented watering methods.
Finally, take them on field trips to talk about water conservation. Visit farms that are working on sustainable management of resources, the local water treatment plant, or wetlands conservation areas. Help them to see that water conservation isn’t just something that you do in your home; it’s something that active members in your community are also participating in too!
Water conservation is an important part of living sustainably. Conserving water and teaching children can play an important role in improving the lives of every living thing around us. As you teach water conservation, be sure to lead by example and make the process as hands-on as possible. Good luck!
About the author: Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.