In this guide, we look at several ways that schools might be able to save water.
We’ve split it up into the categories of food and food waste, indirect water use, and direct water use.
(Note – this guide contains general information only. Schools, teaching staff, and parents should do their own due diligence and make their own decisions as to what the best practices are for schools, their students and workers)
Summary – Saving Water At School
- How much water can be saved at schools is dependent on different factors
- There are factors that teaching staff and students can directly influence themselves
- But, there may also be external factors that prevent schools from saving as much water as they potentially could. For example, school financing budgets, and needing certain decisions to be made by upper management could be limiting factors
- The ways schools can save water might be categorised in the areas of food and food waste, direct water use, and indirect water use
- Another obvious solution is that schools can include it in their curriculum to start teaching students about water sustainability on an individual, and society wide level. Short of implementing water strategies at schools, students are then at least aware of how they might be able to do so in their own lives away from school (in consultation with their parents or guardians), and are aware of how water might be able to be better saved across society
Food, & Food Waste
Schools may do this by:
- Considering food
The foods we eat each have a water footprint – i.e. take different amounts of water to produce.
Teachers may start teaching students about the water footprint of different foods in the area.
They may also identify easy snack swaps that might save water – such as swapping a soda for regular water, or a chocolate bar for a banana or piece of fruit.
Obviously, important considerations that impact health, such as proper nutrition and dietary requirements, and allergies of individual students, should still be a priority over saving water in an individual’s food diet.
But, water footprint in foods is something that can have more awareness brought to it at a bare minimum.
- Considering food waste
Throwing out food that we don’t want to eat, or allowing food to expire, are just two of the ways we waste food.
If less food is wasted, such as the food students bring to school, we save water as an indirect consequence.
This can start with smarter food purchasing decisions, and only buying and packing foods we think we will definitely eat.
Both parents and students have a role to play here with selecting foods that will definitely get eaten, and not be wasted.
Indirect Water Use
Indirect water use includes the water used at another stage of the product or service lifecycle separate to the stage we use it at.
One of the best examples of this is the electricity schools use for lighting and power.
There’s an indirect water footprint for both:
- The type of energy source use to supply the electricity – each one has a different water efficiency. So, schools might choose to use an electricity supplier with a higher water efficiency rating
- How much electricity is used – which can come down to things such as installing timers for lighting, and using energy efficient power fixtures and technology. One example is that burning a compact fluorescent bulb for the same amount of time [as an incandescent one] might save about 2,000 to 4,000 gallons of water per year
Direct Water Use
There’s several ways water is used at schools.
A few examples for students are drinking and washing taps, and also toilet facilities.
Schools may also have lawn areas and sporting fields that need irrigation and watering.
Installing water efficient fixtures and water efficient irrigation systems (and monitoring and fixing leaks) are two examples of ways to save water in these instances.