Every day we come across news that reminds us just how serious the environmental crisis is. Headlines that announce the dangers of rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and widespread droughts are commonplace. These headlines serve as constant reminders that water is precious.
They also serve as a call to action.
Losing hope in a sea of bad news is not an option for the youth of today.
Many students understand that conserving water is equivalent to conserving their future.
Fortunately, there are strategies that students can implement within their schools to promote water conservation within the academic community.
So, how can students save water at school?
Simple Actions = Big Water Savings
By working together in the school environment, students can promote small but significant changes in collective behavior that will ultimately lead to increased water conservation.
It is easy to save water. Here are some helpful tips and strategies to promote water conservation in school, in the dorms and within the institution as a whole.
Carry a refillable water bottle
Disposable, single-use bottles of water require a lot of water to manufacture. Three times more than the bottle will hold for drinking, to be exact. Disposable bottles often end up in our waterways, contaminating water for many years to come. Drink water from the tap, and refill your bottle as often as you need. You will save water, and this simple investment will save you about $1800 a year.
Skip the tray in the lunch line and use only one plate
Dining halls and cafeterias are notorious water-wasting environments. Most water used in commercial kitchens is spent in dishwashing. One way that students can save water is by minimizing the dirty dishes they generate. If the cafeteria does not offer all-in-one serving trays, skip the tray and use one plate to serve your meal.
Turn off the water when washing your hands
People wash their hands an average of 9 times a day. If people turn off the tap while sudsing their hands, they can save an average of up to six gallons of water a day. For students that live in the dorms, this same strategy can be applied to other daily personal care routines. Brushing your teeth with the tap closed saves up to 200 gallons a month.
Report leaks to the appropriate authorities
Students are often the first people to notice leaks around campus. Report leaking faucets, running toilets, faulty hoses, or broken water fountains. A single dripping faucet can waste 100 gallons of water a day. Reporting leaks and following up to make sure they are fixed is one of the most effective ways individual students can save water at school.
In labs and art rooms, clean up with buckets of water
Certain areas of campus like the art room and science labs are especially wasteful of water. Clean-up from different activities is often inefficient and wasteful. Faucets frequently get left open while equipment gets rinsed out. Ask the school administration to provide buckets and drain plugs for the sinks. If turning off the tap when hand washing saves so much water, imagine the savings from washing paintbrushes in a bucket?
Form a Club and Organize
When students organize into recognized clubs, they often have more success working with the administration of their school. They may be able to access financing and other resources through official channels. Most institutions welcome the opportunity to form bridges with the student community. This is especially true when it comes to realizing initiatives that will help the school save money and reach conservation goals.
Student organizations are capable of taking on large projects. These can be awareness campaigns, campus-wide conservation efforts, or the implementation of different water-saving policies.
Organize a composting system, reorganize landscape design or schedule a water-use audit.
Even without an official student organization, individual students can pair up with faculty and administration officials to put in place larger projects whose goal is to save water.
Setting up a composting system for the cafeteria and landscaping waste leads to the creation of high-quality compost. This can then be used in the landscaping around campus. Compost not only adds fertility to the soil (minimizing the need for water contaminating fertilizers) but also reduces groundwater evaporation - reducing the need for frequent watering.
“Work with your school to implement changes in landscaping design. Students can help design and maintain sustainable, drought-resistant gardens that require less water and overall maintenance.” — Miranda Dawson, Biology and Social Sciences writer at Studicus.
Water-use audits can be conducted by third-party specialists or by in-house staff who are knowledgeable about water systems. The concept is for the school to get a sense of overall campus-wide water usage. A physical inspection of the property identifies inefficiencies and looks for opportunities to increase water conservation throughout the physical structures on campus.
These tips for students on how to save water at school may seem small or insignificant in the face of such enormous environmental challenges that shape our world. Fortunately, countless small actions made by countless individuals can lead to big changes in the environment and for our community.