Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Montessori Values: Becoming Stewards of Our Planet - Water Conservation

NAMC Montessori leaf with water droplets conservation

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Three quarters of the earth is water. Considered a renewable resource, water usage is often easily abused, especially in communities where it flows freely out of the tap. In most developed areas, we are no longer personally responsible for gathering and carrying our water daily. All we could ever want is delivered into our homes, schools, and businesses.

Tips for Water Conservation Montessori Families Can Work on Together

But consider these facts:

  • Only 0.003% of water on Earth is freshwater available for human consumption. (DoSomething.org)
  • Every 20 seconds a family in Sub-Saharan Africa loses someone to water-related disease. (Water is Life)
  • 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water; approximately one in nine people. (Water.org)
  • Women and children spend 140 million hours a day collecting water (Water.org)
  • An estimated 502,000 people die every year from preventable cases of diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water. (Water.org)

A few years ago, we were in the midst of a pretty severe drought for our region. The local municipality set up a task force to help educate children. I invited them to my lower elementary Montessori classroom. The children were very receptive to learning about conservation. They looked for leaky faucets and toilets at home, and they helped their families draft water-saving pledges. The local municipality even gave out free faucet aerators to help encourage families to conserve water when turning on the tap.

We have all heard that we should take shorter showers and only wash full loads of dishes and clothes, but what are some other ways we can cut back on our over consumption of water?

  • Be aware of how much water goes down the drain.

    We have all done it: Turned on the tap and waited until the water got hot before washing dishes or taking a shower. That cold water is perfectly good, but we just let it run down the drain. Our family has taken to keeping 5 gallon buckets in our showers to catch this run-off. Not the soapy, ‘gray’ water, but the clean “while we wait” water. This is then used to water our pollinator garden outside. We do the same in the kitchen. Every time we run the hot water in the kitchen, I collect just about ¾ of a gallon (3 liters) of cold water. And our family of three collects about 50 gallons of cold water per week, waiting for our showers to get hot. That’s over 2,600 gallons of water per year!
  • Recycle cooking water.

    I love eating pasta, but I feel guilty dumping out a whole pan of water when I drain it. Now, I look for creative and responsible ways to reuse that water. Often, I use it to reconstitute my dogs’ dehydrated food. And I save water from steamed vegetables to use later when making stocks, or I cool it and use it to water the garden.
  • “Green Landscaping”

    The days of expansive, lush grass may be a thing of the past. The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, with 30% of that devoted to outdoor use. In the summer, that amount can escalate to over 70%! And roughly half of that is wasted due to evaporation, run-off, and wind. (United States Evironmental Protection Agency) The EPA suggests the following ideas for outdoor water conservation:
    • Cut back on watering the grass. If you step on it and it springs back, it doesn’t need water.
    • Plan your garden with water-smart landscaping and hardscaping using native plants that require little watering other than normal rainfall.
    • Use irrigation controllers that monitor local weather conditions.

If we are truly responsible citizens of the earth, we will take care not to abuse this precious resource. Let’s commit to saving water. It may not seem like a lot, but every little bit adds up!

Take the EPA 2015 “I’m for water” pledge to find more ways to save.

Works Cited
DoSomething.org. 11 Facts about droughts. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-droughts
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Water Sense: Outdoor water use in the United States. http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/outdoor.html
Water.org. Millions lack safe water. http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.


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