It’s no secret that we love talking about weather in the UK. Just this week, I’ve gotten sunburnt, caught in a rainstorm, and spotted a colleague checking the long range weather forecast via a Microsoft Teams screenshare. However, behind the chatter about a never ending winter, I have also noticed a growing understanding that the weather is actually changing, and that what we’re seeing is climate change in action. Climate change is the reason behind longer periods of dry weather, and this combined with changes to how we live has put particular pressure on a key resource we all use every day; water.
Water and our use of it has recently gained particular notoriety here at Hopscotch via one of our projects. For the last few months we have been working with Northumbrian Water Group to develop an upper primary education programme with a focus on behaviour change around water use. We have called this programme The Ripple Effect: when we all make small changes to our water use (ripples), we can make big waves in protecting our precious water supply.
The resources are free, interactive and engaging, including videos, online tools, games and quizzes. Firstly, children are welcomed to Water Tracker Training Camp where they complete tasks to earn virtual Water Tracker badges. Next, it’s a visit to Water Tracker House. Children need to keep their wits about them and move around the rooms of this interactive ‘house’ to solve water waste challenges and learn from water saving behaviour elsewhere in the world.
This project has brought back all sorts of memories for me personally. I grew up in Australia during a decades long drought; many of the behaviours we encourage through The Ripple Effect are ones I myself recall doing when living in Australia. Much of this behaviour change has stuck with me into adulthood and were behaviours I only realised were unusual once coming to live in the UK. Whilst it’s wetter here than in much of Australia, it’s also not quite as wet as you think! This April was one of the driest on record, as was last Spring. So this week, in celebration of Water Saving Week, I’m sharing a few top tips for saving water, straight from The Ripple Effect resources.
1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth! I’m pretty sure every Aussie I know living here has taught an English person this lesson. Two minutes = 12 litres of water (approx.) that you are literally throwing down the drain. Turn it off
2. Think about your food waste. This might seem like a curve ball, but an average family wastes £700 of food a year, and food production uses lots of water – check out some key numbers below. Next time you unwrap a chocolate bar spare a moment to think about the 1700L of water than went into producing it!
3. Know your shower. Might sound weird, but do you know if you have a power shower? How often do you take baths? A bath might use 80L of water, but a long power shower will use lots of water too. The experts suggest keeping showers to 4 minutes, but even shaving off 2 minutes will save litres and litres! I had a government-issued egg timer in my shower as a teenager; no word of a lie.
Want to know more about how The Ripple Effect or interested in talking to young people about water efficiency? Watch the animation and explore the resources, or get a taste via the water impact calculator we developed that asks you some simple questions and shows how even small changes can make big waves of change when we encourage those around us to join The Ripple Effect.
Water Saving Week is an annual online event aiming to raise awareness of the issues around water use. Through sharing ideas, solutions and related challenges the aim is to help people save water and learn how to use it more efficiently every day.