Ways to Teach your Children to Value and Conserve Water

by Dr Angel Adams, Dr Patricia Papciak

Last Sunday, March 22, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as World Water Day because 1 billion people around the world lack access to improved water supply. We all know that we could not survive without water, and yet we use it and throw it around as though it were something worthlessly disposable. We rarely stop and appreciate its unimaginable value.

Humans can live without food for more than a month, but can only live without water for approximately one week. In our society we take water for granted much more than in developing countries because it is common for us to have water systems where water is purified. We know that for most countries this is not true, and yet we rarely stop to think what a wonderful and amazing thing those purification systems are. In the more advanced technological countries we might suffer from time to time from droughts, but again we have reservoir systems to protect us against droughts so that there will always be enough water. With all these systems to protect us, we don’t often stop and consider how we should set an example to our children and treat water as the precious commodity that it is. We all know that alone on an island, no gold or jewels will do us any good if we don’t have enough water to drink.

Image: A cat drinking water

We encourage you to watch this video, if you haven’t seen it already, as it is a startling reminder that most of the world is much more aware of the water scarcity then our developed countries who take for granted the preciousness of water and are blind to the huge threat facing mankind. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3930199780455728313

We are often unaware of how little of the world’s water is fresh enough to be drinkable and how polluted it is and what has to be done to treat it. Have you ever stopped to imagine how integral water is in our everyday life? Almost everything we come into contact with has been made with water. Here are some facts (http://www.water.siemens.com/en/Pages/default.aspx):

  • It takes 1,500 gallons to process one barrel of beer.
  • It takes 101 gallons to make one pound of wool or cotton.
  • It takes 1,851 gallons to refine one barrel of crude oil.
  • It takes 62,600 gallons to produce one ton of steel. The United Nations estimates about half the world’s population – potentially more than three billion people – may suffer from water shortages by the year 2025.
  • Only 1% of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking.

With all these things in mind, how can we remind ourselves and set an example for our children to be protective of our water supply and appreciate the wonder of rain. Most parents do tell their children not to leave water faucets running or stay in the shower too long, mainly because they don’t want their water bills to be higher. It is also important to teach your children about the facts so they truly understand that actually a leaky faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day.

Parents can also spend some quality time with their children and brainstorm together some family-friendly ways that they can conserve water in their house. For example:

  • Take less baths and Take shorter showers. Make it a game. Put an egg timer in the bathroom and see who can wash themselves sufficiently and use the least amount of time.
  • While lathering up the soap when washing your hands and while brushing your teeth, turn the taps completely off.
  • Let your child help you install a water-saving shower head. In addition to the water it saves, it also saves the fuel that would have been used to heat up the extra hot water.
  • Fill a gallon plastic bottle with water and place it in your toilet tank. It will take up the same space as the water usually does, but in a year, it will keep 5,000 gallons of water from going down the drain.
  • Recycle batteries as the mercury in old batteries will eventually leak out and poison the water it runs into and use rechargeable alkaline batteries which will literally save you 25 batteries that you didn’t have to buy and throw away.

This website offers a 100 ways to conserve water. Remind your children about the kinds of problems other people have when they don’t have enough water to grow their crops, bathe, and drink leisurely from a faucet to their heart’s desire. Pictures of places where there is a shortage of water are in many magazines and this video gives young people a sobering idea of how many countries really suffer from a shortage of rainfall.

It has been in the news recently about how some of the glaciers of the world are slowly melting with global warming and how the cold weather animals have suffered from this phenomenon. Children and adults should be more aware of these problems. Perhaps a day will come when we all have to have systems in our homes to purify and store our own rain water for emergencies in much the way it was done before the systems we have today. There are many children’s books that deal with water in one way or another. You may have read about Drippy the Raindrop or seen some of the videos. You might also consider The Water Cycle by Sally Morgan.

There are also many web sites where children can learn about water conservation. For example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_conservation.

Although we are often careless when it comes to truly valuing the preciousness of water, we are usually in awe when it comes to watching water as it flows from a magnificent waterfall or winds its way through a canyon with sheer rock on either side. We all admire the serenity of a silent, still lake or pond, and we often are mesmerized by the sound and beauty of a small waterfall in the neighbour garden. When children are feeling the effects of a hot sultry day, there is nothing that appeals to them more than getting out that hose and laughing and spraying each other until everyone is soaking wet, or a picture comes to mind of the inner city where the children have turned on the fire hydrant and are jumping through the gallons of water spraying them in the streets. When we are really thirsty, there is nothing that takes the place of a wonderful refreshing glass of cold water.

Although sometimes we tire of the rain and cold, when we haven’t had rain for a period of time, it’s so pleasant to breathe and smell the fresh air after a rain or to have a walk through the puddles with the drops falling upon us.

Image: A painting of two friends under an umbrella

Drawing by Danielle Mitchell

Let us become more dedicated to honour and value water, its use and its poetic nature, by discussing the conservation of this beautiful resource with our children.


Thanks for taking the time to read this Monday’s Motivational article.

Please feel free to send me any comments or your own stories you wish to share, or post them on this site by leaving a comment below.

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