Tag Archives: water

Keeping Kids Green and Busy While School’s Out

With the kids at home more, summer is a time that can be a little bit challenging for green parenting. Somehow you have to combat all the boredom that comes from having more free time, while facing the fact that the weather is warmer. Here are some of the things I do:

1. Try to get the kids outside early and late in the day.

I have a lot of sympathy for them wanting to be inside during the hottest parts of the hottest days. Who wouldn’t prefer that?

But even on the days that it breaks 100 degrees F around here there are times that they’ll willingly play outside. Rather than let them turn on the TV first thing in the morning, as they would love to do, I boot the kids outside to play. They can come inside when it really starts to warm up. Then I do it again when the day cools off sufficiently.

This also has the advantage of limiting the need for sunscreen. My kids generally aren’t out in the most powerful of the sun’s rays, so I don’t have to apply sunscreen to them so often.

2. Make homemade popsicles.

Sure the store has cheap ones, but they’re often little more than sugar water.

I prefer to make my popsicles from smoothies, but you could use regular juice or pudding if you prefer.

3. Hit the library.

Hot days are great for spending at the library. Get some new books for your kids to read while not having to run the air conditioning in your own home. The library’s there, after all!

4. Combine lawn watering with running through the sprinklers.

We have water restrictions starting up in our area, which means watering only on certain days and only after 6 p.m. and before 10 a.m. and only for 10 minutes per section on timed sprinklers.

On hot enough days, 6 p.m. is still plenty hot enough for running through sprinklers!

And of course there are always local swimming pools, beaches and so forth if you want to cool off during other parts of the day.

5. Crafts!

Within certain age ranges, it’s easy to come up with kids’ craft ideas. My kids love saving magazines and other things that might otherwise go into the recycle bin for a path through their crafting table first. Saves me a lot not having to buy everything they craft with, and the reuse is a great habit.

As kid get older, they may have particular ideas about what they will be willing to do, but if you find something they really enjoy making, try to encourage it.

6. Have friends over.

It won’t necessarily help to keep the kids cool, but having friends over certainly helps with the boredom factor. I always tell mine no TV or computer time with friends over.

7. Know when to give in on TV and computer time.

Really, it’s not the end of the world if kids watch a bit more TV or spend more time playing on the computer during the summer. What matters is that they get enough activity overall.

Really Pleased With Our Water Usage

Let’s face it. I’m normally not that excited to get my water bill… any bill really. Where’s the fun in that?

But with all our efforts to conserve water around here, I was really excited to get our bill over the weekend.

We used just 16 units of water for this two month period. That’s down from 19 units for the same time frame last year. Pretty good, especially considering that average residential usage in our area I’ve seen quoted as 30 units per month.

I won’t say our lawn is thanking us for our efforts, but that’s been done in as much by gophers as by lack of water, I think. We have one really pretty weed with purple flowers that I hope continues to spread.

The garden, which I will truly miss when we move, has been one of our big outdoor water changes. The ugly watering solution really seems to be helping us cut down on how much water that needs.

Overall, I hope we can do so well wherever we end up living when we move. I just had to share my delight at seeing how well we’re doing, though.

Efficient Lawn Watering

Much of southern California is getting into stricter water restrictions right now, with a goal of cutting all water use by at least 20%. That’s a tough goal when you consider how many people have already been conserving. Most lawns in our area show it.

The typical restriction is along the lines of allowing people to water on certain days of the week between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., and limiting sprinkler time to 10 minutes. Also they want people to keep an eye out for obvious water wastes, such as broken sprinklers, obvious leaks and sprinklers spraying more on sidewalks or streets than they should.

These restrictions are pretty good for cutting back water use for irrigation, which is a huge part of residential water use.

For the best results for your lawn, you need to water about 1 inch per week. That’s easy enough to measure if you put out an open, empty tuna can. If you can do it in one shot you should be able to reach the deeper roots of grass, which is the most effective.

Believe me when I say I don’t water mine this much, and it’s kind of brown. But my garden looks good.

Mowing less is also good. Taller grass shades the soil, and so less water evaporates from it. The grass also is then able to better stand getting less water.

My own favorite tip is to find more native plants to put in, rather than your typical lawn. There are grasses that do better with less water. My city suggests a list of plants that are California-friendly (PDF, pretty big). They also suggest only maintaining as much lawn as you need, and having drought resistant plants for the rest of the yard.

How Much Water Do You Need For Cooking?

It doesn’t sound like much, but boiling too much water when you cook is a waste. It’s not just the water, after all. It’s the energy it takes to heat it.

You aren’t always going to be certain of the exact amount you need, of course. Most people I know aren’t going to measure the water they put in the tea kettle when boiling water for tea. Then again, it’s more efficient to boil the water in the cup you’re going to use in the microwave if one cup of tea is all you’re doing. Just watch out for sudden boiling from superheated water.

You may also want to consider steaming vegetables rather than boiling them. First of all, steaming is generally better for keeping nutrients in the vegetables, rather than releasing them into the water. I think they taste much better that way too.

In addition to only boiling what you need, remember to put a lid on the pot when you’re boiling water. It will come to a boil sooner, saving both energy and time.

Are Plastic Water Bottles Safe?

There’s been a lot of controversy in recent times about the presence of  Bisphenol-A (BPA) in certain kinds of plastic. According to a new study from scientists in Germany, kinds of plastic that were previously thought safe may also contain substances that interfere with reproductive hormones. The results aren’t definite yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Glass and stainless steel look better every day.

All in all I’m glad I don’t use plastic water bottles, especially the disposable ones. The waste and the question of what’s leeching into the water isn’t something I want to spend a lot of time thinking about.

It was also quite interesting to note that they tested two cardboard boxes similar to juice boxes. Those also apparently showed signs of the compound. However, they also showed in some of the glass bottle water samples taken, so it’s possible that some of the problem related more to the water itself.

Call it another argument in favor of tap water.