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Fostering Water Conservation in Household Chores
Water is the most desired play element for children, and is a valuable natural resource that needs to be protected and conserved. One of the ways in which young children come into contact with water at home is in doing household chores.
Household chores are fun in the early years. The young child delights in being able to help out at home. It is liberating and satisfying for the young child to be able to carry out the activities that he or she sees the adults doing. Many of these chores, both indoors and outdoors, involve water.
Parents can use these chores to model for the young and remind them how precious water is and that it can be conserved in their daily chores. Be mindful of the amount of water that is used each time. Water that goes into the drains fills the sewer and eventually pollutes streams and oceans.
Save Water in Cleaning Tasks
There are many cleaning up activities that young children can help out in. Young children enjoy, among others, soaking plates and cutlery in soapy water, rinsing washcloths and wringing them dry. Here are some ways that parents can ensure that water is used wisely in these activities:
- When hand-washing dishes, fill the sink first with water to wash them, and then refill the sink to rinse them. Sinks need not be filled to the brim.
- When using dishwashers and washing machines, ensure that loads are full and select the shortest cycle.
- Rinse vegetables and fruits in a partially full sink or pan of water instead of under a running tap.
- Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing them down.
- Wash cars and bicycles using a bucket of soapy water instead of a hose.
Collect and Re-use Water
Parents can have a game with children to see where water can be collected to be re-used. This helps children to appreciate that water need not just come straight from the taps. For example, a container can be placed under the air-conditioner to collect the dripping water.
A barrel or a pail can be placed outdoors to collect rainwater. The collected water can be used to water plants, wash cars and bicycles, bathe pets, clean pavements and driveways, and even wash windows. Remember not to store the harvested water for too long or to leave it uncovered as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
Save as well whatever leftover water from other chores instead of pouring it down the drain. Find other ways to use it. For example, the water that is used to wash rice or to boil an egg (after it is cooled) is suitable for watering a plant or the garden.
Bathing pets is also fun for the young child. Do this outdoors in an area that needs water. Similarly, water drained from the fish tank makes a great fertilizer for plants.
Save Water in Garden Care
It is important for children to be in contact with nature, and care of the garden is one of the activities that they can participate in. Children can be encouraged to water plants, for example, but they need to be checked on when and how they water the plants.
Ensure that they water plants either early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler to avoid evaporation. See that they water the base, not the leaves, and definitely not the pavement. It also helps when plants with similar water needs are grouped together, or better yet plant those with low water-use.
Parents can also involve children in gardening activities that help to minimize water usage. Teach children to place mulch around plants. They can easily cover the soil with rice hulls, pine needles, pebbles or newspapers. Let them know that mulching keeps the sun off the soil and thus retain moisture in the soil. Have the children add water crystals to the soil to further maximise its water retention. Weeding is also recommended as this ensures that the garden is rid of unwanted plants that compete for water.
In short, there are many chores, indoors and outdoors, that young children can enjoy doing while simultaneously learning to conserve water. Children who use water wisely from young will develop the habit of saving water in the adult years.