6 Ways to Prepare Your Child for a Water Crisis
We are all guilty of overusing the depleting water resources on our planet. But our children can lead the way in smarter water conservation. Here is how you can prepare them to use water judiciously.
By Sahana Charan
135-200 litres of water per person. According to water conservationists, that is how much each of us in an average urban Indian household, utilise in a day. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Imagine - cities like Cape Town in South Africa are reeling under severe water shortage, with water usage being cut down to 50 litres per person. In our country too, there are many regions where some children must walk miles to get access to water, while others make do with a little every day.
But let’s look at the bright side. All over the world, children are leading the way in raising awareness about conservation efforts. From saving lakes to organising garbage cleaning drives, kids are the keepers of our environment. On World Water Day (March 22), what best way, than to talk to children about an imminent water shortage or to involve them in conserving water for the future?
“We should apologise to our children for cutting down the forests and drying up the water sources. What is the legacy we are leaving them? Parents need to make a conscious effort to conserve water at home and lead by example so that children can learn from them,” says Vinod Lal Eshwar, Bangalore-based advertising professional and conservationist, who has scripted many environment films.
Here’s how you can prepare kids for a water crisis:
1. Involve them in the decision-making – When you know that a water crisis is looming large, it is a good idea to plan well so that you do not face a severe crisis at home. Encourage your little ones to suggest ways to bring down water consumption in the house. Sometimes, kids can come up with the most wonderful ideas. Implement their ideas – this will inspire them to be more involved in efforts to save water.
2. Make them aware of the water supply – Next time your water bill comes home, make your children aware of the amount of water consumed in your household and encourage them to set goals to reduce the monthly water consumption. Appreciate your children, if they save water and help in bringing down the family consumption. So, next time there is a water shortage, all the family members will be prepared with a strategy to reduce water use.
3. Teach them not to waste water – During a water crisis, tell the children that water is going to be scarce and they must use it judiciously. So, they should take quick showers, not keep the tap running while brushing their teeth, close all taps tightly and keep the tap in a low-flow mode when cleaning hands and washing their faces. Ask your children to fill only half a glass with drinking water, when thirsty and to take more only if they need it. Store water, which you have used to clean vegetables and encourage kids to water the plants with it.
4. Show them the value of small actions – Even a simple and small effort can make a huge difference. “In the school where I studied, there is a blue drum kept near the gate, and children returning home are asked to empty whatever little water they have in their water bottles, into this drum. The collected water is used for watering the school garden or for cleaning,” says Vinod. Such an exercise not only saves water but demonstrates to kids that even a little can go a long way.
5. Talk to them about saving rainwater – Installing a rainwater harvesting system in your house or apartment building is an important step towards water conservation and can be a boon when water is scarce. To teach children the value of rainwater, ask them to keep a bucket out when it rains and use the water for cleaning and washing purposes.
6. Take them for a tree planting drive – Children learn in school that forests are important to bring rain, but unless they get a first-hand experience in planting saplings, they may not learn the long-term benefits of growing trees to make rain. Whenever there is a tree-planting drive in your neighbourhood, take your child along to volunteer in the activity. This is a long-term strategy against a water crisis, but you cannot imagine the positive impact it will make on children.
Vinod gives parents valuable tips on conserving water at home:
- Save water from every source you can. Two litres of water go down the drain for every one litre of filtered water from a Reverse Osmosis (RO) water system. Use the run-off from RO filters to swab the house or water the plants, instead of using fresh water.
- Install water-saving aerators on all your taps. These devices when fixed to your wash basin and sink taps, can save around 50-80 per cent of water. They increase the pressure of water but reduce the water flow rate. We need very little water to wash our hands or clean our face, so the low flow of the water will ensure that there is not too much water wastage in these activities.
- Make the best use of rainwater. Apart from installing a rainwater harvesting system in your house or apartment building, using the rainwater run-off from roofs to clean your car will save hundreds of litres of water every week. You can store this rainwater in a small tank and use it judiciously.
- Discover the benefits of mulching. Another technique that is becoming popular in water conservation efforts is mulching. Mulching is the process of covering the soil around plants and trees with dried leaves, twigs and grass to trap moisture. Instead of watering plants in your garden every day, put all the dried, fallen leaves at the base of the plants and trees and water them once or let them get soaked in the rain. You can do this even with potted plants and refrain from watering them for many days.
Water shortage during summer months is imminent in many cities in India. Let your child learn to make every drop count.
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