Labor Day weekend is upon us and you’re probably ready for some time off, right? If you’re hitting the lake, beach, Civil War reenactment, or whatever your vacation preference is, check out these 10 tips for water-wise travel before you go.
- Carry a reusable water bottle wherever you go. Everyone in the family needs one! 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away each day, in the United States alone, and who wants to spend so much money on bottles of water when you could be spending it on snacks or commemorative tee shirts?! The filtered water in the fountain drink machines usually tastes just as good as the stuff you pay for, so fill up any time you stop for gas.
- Shop at home and pack a cooler. Food from home vs. fast food uses less packaging, creates less waste, is healthier, and you can make fewer pit stops. My family traveled a ton when I was a kid and I have to say, a boring peanut butter sandwich is way more fun when mom throws it at you from the front seat. Yes, you’ll probably end up with baby carrots wedged into every crevice of your vehicle, but I can’t express how much nicer it is to find a carrot in your seat than a mangled French fry.
- If/when you eat out, eat local. My parents had a strict rule that when we traveled we never ate somewhere that we could eat in our hometown. Sure, chain restaurants are reliable, but they typically ship their food products in from all over the world, which uses excessive resources. Lately it’s become very popular for small local restaurants to get fresh ingredients from nearby farmers, which is infinitely more sustainable. Plus eating in unusual places can be a fun new experience for kids and help expand their palates.
- In a restaurant, don’t let your server fill your water glasses beyond what you can drink. They may seem super proactive when they refill your glass every few sips, but you can only drink so much water in one sitting and they’ll end up pouring it all down the drain when you leave. So feel free to decline refills.
- While you’re at it, decline some housekeeping, too! In hotels, it can be really nice to have someone else clean up after your family for a change, but do you really need new sheets and towels every single day? Hotels can save millions of gallons of water each year when guests choose to reuse sheets and towels twice before laundering. And hey, they’ll still make your bed and clean your toilet – what’s not to love?
- Be conscientious even if it’s not your water bill. Hotels don’t have top secret unlimited water sources, they use the same water all the rest of us use. And there’s never a good reason to waste it.
- Before you leave home, unplug all appliances, device chargers, computers, etc. Just having them plugged in (even if they’re not turned on) uses electricity. Plus plugged-in appliances can potentially start house fires, so unplugging is a win-win.
- If you have a pool, cover it while you’re gone. A cover can minimize evaporation, which means you won’t need to top it off when you get back home. As an added bonus, those neighbor kids probably won’t sneak into your pool if they have to go to the effort of pulling the cover off, right?
- Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your irrigation won’t run if it rains over the weekend. You don’t want to come back from vacation to dirty looks from your neighbors, right? People get really up in arms over sprinklers running in the rain.
- Check for leaks before you leave. I believe Murphy’s Law of the three day weekend states that if you plan to be gone for a long weekend, a leak will start as soon as you leave and run the whole time you’re away. This is one case where lightning CAN strike twice. I’ve had two washing machines spring a leak and flood my apartment in the last six years. If I wanted to grow cotton in my apartment, that would have been welcome irrigation, but I’m not much of a farmer so every drop of those floods went to waste.
What else do you do to conserve water while you travel? I know there are plenty of ideas that I missed, so post yours in the comments or share them with me on Twitter @MarGoH2O
If you enjoyed this post, maybe my other Uninvited Parenting Advice posts will enrich your life, too! Read my archives here.