Making a splash: water rules

Cleanliness is expected isn’t it, so how do you keep your self and stuff clean without polluting the rest of the world? And why bother to teach kids about this anyway? For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see, or

Nell's friends Lucas and Nat look for newts in our garden pond.

Nell’s friends Lucas and Nat look for newts in our garden pond.

My family love looking for newts, splashing in the sea and growing plants. Three  out of four of us eat fish occasionally too. I think that’s helped us all understand why we want to avoid wasting water or polluting it.

This is how we manage:

  1. We know that showers need to be quick so we…
  2. Share baths. That way each person individually enjoys as long as they like wallowing, and are not nagged into having a 3 minute speed wash.
  3. We have four water butts but a tiny garden (around 10m2)
  4. We wash up by hand. This is allegedly a way of wasting water, but in the summer all used washing up water is poured into a bucket and then used to water plants. To do this the washing up liquid needs to be non-toxic (I tend to use Ecover which I refill from a nearby shop which has a refill station). I’ve been told to avoid tipping this dirty washing up water on containers or the leaves of plants we will eat, but you know what – it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
  5. We installed a water metre in early 2012 and talk about the readings (honest! but at least it’s only quarterly). There are four of us plus occasional guests, and we use less than an average two household family so I managed to get the water company to reduce our bill (a tiny bit).
  6. Bath water is then tipped into two buckets and used to flush the loo.
  7. When we go out we take drinking water in a portable container so we don’t have to buy plastic bottles of water. This saves enough money for us to indulge in ice cream or beer/wine depending on our tastes.
  8. We do this for the dog too.
  9. The loo is never used as a rubbish dump for cotton buds, floss, san pro etc. Cooking fat isn’t poured down the kitchen sink either (instead it gets composted).
  10. But that’s it. So thank goodness other people are putting their brains into ways to keep water sources cleaner. You can find out more at (a site run by Ecover which I use for cleaning because of its eco-credentials).
Even when it's proper winter Nell, Izzy and Lola hope not to find plastic nasties in the sea.

Even when it’s proper winter Nell, Izzy and Lola hope not to find plastic nasties in the sea.

What’s hard, what’s not
Everything is easy to do, except #6. If you flush your toilet bowl with soapy water, or water that’s been used to wash hair then you get a quick build up of horrible things that make your toilet bowl turn a grim grey. In London the limescale makes this extra horrible to gaze at, so every now and then (more then than now) I empty the toilet pan of water and chisel off the scaley gunk with a special knife kept in the bathroom. The gunk (which doesn’t smell) then gets put in our household rubbish. I have to admit that people do call this extreme…

Message in the bottle: recycled plastic and one day soon this will come from the plastic rubbish dumped at sea.

Message in our bottle: recycled plastic will one day soon come from the plastic rubbish dumped at sea.

Who else loves clean water?

This interest in keeping water clean made me curious about Ecover – the company that makes most of the cleaning products I tend to use – and the ideas they have for keeping the planet healthy, see their message-in-our-bottle. Turns out Ecover has found a genius way to improve their bottles. This year it’s all about using bioplastic – just 15 hectares of sugar cane sorts out their bottle needs. They’ve also found a way to use improved plastic recycling so that since 2011 the company has put new stock on shop shelves in 100 per cent recycled bottles.

Best hook up ever
Best of all is Ecover’s scheme to fish for discarded plastic dumped at sea and then recycle this by making plastic bottles is on target for launch in 2014. The madness of sending fishermen out to fish for plastic is so attention-grabbing, and so sensible. What a great idea. Here’s a link to the Guardian story about this.

Over to you
What do you to teach your kids about using water wisely – and how do you make it fun?

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2 Comments on “Making a splash: water rules”

  1. jlorenzo93 Says:

    This looks like a huge amount of effort. Is this one of those things that when you get used to them are quite easy to keep doing? Or do you feel like quitting sometimes?

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