Can you believe it? Summer is almost here. My plants are in the garden; my lawn is green; and best of all, no more snow!
Summer living is great, but it’s not always easy on the planet. Americans use more water than anyone else in the world, and that water use increases dramatically over the summer. So before summer is in full swing and it gets too hot, plan to reduce your and your family’s water consumption this year.
Here are a few ways you can have fun while conserving water:
Make saving water a game
Get the kids involved in saving water around the house. The habits children develop at an early age are more likely to stay with them throughout their lives. Rewarding children for conserving water is a great way to reinforce good habits. Give a sticker if you see your child turning off the water while brushing his/her teeth.
Letting children play in the sprinkler when you water the lawn is one way to get creative while conserving water.
If you have a teenager, you know that they love having some extra spending money. Why not drop some money in a jar everytime he/she remembers to take a short shower (five minutes or less) or uses the same water glass all day? These little habits will save thousands of gallons of water over their lifetimes.
Send kids out on a hunt for leaks. Kentucky American Water has a great online guide for leak detection at home. Challenge the family to not use any water for two hours. During that time, have the kids check the water meter. If the dial moves at all, have them check all the faucets, spigots, under sinks, etc. for any signs of a leak. Give a prize to anyone who finds a leaky faucet or a drip under the sink. Fix these leaks ASAP.
When the weather isn’t conducive to outside activities, check out the water education games that are available online. Wateruseitwisely.com has some great games for kids that teach them about many different water quality and water conservation topics.
Creatively water your lawn
Some of the largest wastes of water are from irrigation and watering our lawns and gardens, but we all know that there are times when the lawn NEEDS to be watered. When it’s time to water the lawn, here are some creative ways to multitask and reduce your water usage.
Let the kids play in the sprinkler. Allow kids to play water games in the yard. Just make sure to rotate the fun, so that one spot does not get over saturated.
Wash the dog outside. Fill up a kiddie pool or bucket outside. Give the dog a good wash. Then you can distribute the water you just used to wash the dog on the lawn.
Wash your car on the lawn. By pulling the car into the grass before washing it, you are conserving water and helping to keep soap and grease from your vehicle out of the storm drains.
Install a rain barrel
Rain barrels collect soft rainwater, which plants love, and best of all, it’s free. The water saved in rain barrels can be used for watering flowers, gardens and lawns all through the summer, even in times of drought. However, the water should not be used for drinking or human consumption.
Installing a rain barrel benefits the environment and you. Using rainwater for watering will reduce your use of municipal water supplies, saving you money. For more information about rain barrels or to attend an upcoming Rain Barrel Workshop, check out our website.
Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.