#TapThursday – Whitchurch’s young ambassadors for water saving
By Nicci Russell, Managing Director of Waterwise
Yesterday I spent the morning exploring water efficiency with the children at Whitchurch C.E. Junior Academy – the really lovely school in our town in North Shropshire that two of my children are lucky enough to attend. Year 3’s topic this term is ‘Extreme Environments’ – they’ve been learning about plastics pollution and Mrs Sayers, Head of Year 3, was keen for them to learn about water saving too. I told Mrs Sayers that I’d love to come in and discuss it with the children, but that she’d need to hold my hand as I’d much rather face a TV camera than a hall full of children – I’ve loved being a school governor, but teaching would be a bit beyond my comfort zone!
Luckily, these 90 year 3 children – aged 7 and 8 – were bright as buttons and beautifully behaved and polite, and had really done their homework. They’d all compiled a water diary at home and we had great fun discussing what they’d found out and how surprised they and their families were at how much water they were wasting. It was Water Saving Week’s ‘Wash Wednesday’ yesterday, and we talked a lot about showers and baths. After a plenary assembly they all worked on mind maps, taking each of the five Water Saving Week themes and discussing how they each used water in their lives, and how they could use less. I learnt lots from them, and they’ll now be fantastic ambassadors for water efficiency in their own homes. The families of Whitchurch will be knocking a minute off their shower or an inch off their bath!
The children were really surprised that on average in the UK we all use about 140 litres a day of tap water – drinking water quality, much of which is wasted, or flushed down the loo. They thought about how much they actually drink, and the ‘embedded water’ in their clothes which their parents wash for them, and which therefore counts towards their own water footprints. They were also interested to find that this is an issue here as well as across the world, and that parts of England receive less rainfall per person than parts of Africa. We talked about sprinklers and how they’re super important for having fun in but should only be on when they’re actually being used – as an hour of a sprinkler uses as much water as a family of six does in a whole day.
Year 3’s three Eco Counsellors are now going to come up with an action plan for the school. This includes moving to water-efficient taps and checking for (and fixing) leaky loos – which will reduce water waste but also energy waste, helping the school play its part in both tackling and adapting to climate change. And it will bring down the school’s water and energy bills.
Year 3 also plan to write to our local MP, Owen Paterson, to tell him what they’re all doing – and what he needs to get government to do too.
The children at Whitchurch Juniors, like all children, lift their sights beyond their homes, their school and their town – they also care about the world around them. We discussed how as the UK population grows, and climate change makes water more scarce – they remembered the heatwave last summer – we’ll all need to make sure there’s enough water to go round, for society, the environment and the economy. The children are really clear that there’s an environmental driver for this – we should be leaving the environment in a better state than we found it, not worse – but also one of social justice and equality in terms of access to water. And not just elsewhere in the world – in the UK, in their lifetimes.
I had a wonderful morning with the children and the teachers and came away totally refreshed and enthused. These children had a touch of @gretathunberg about them – the incredible girl who started the school climate strikes and is influencing global politics and our approach to climate change. These children care and they’re doing something about it. I hope Owen Paterson writes back to them saying that the government will no longer be allowing homes to be built that waste water; will make it compulsory to have a label on any product we buy which uses water in our homes, whether it be for the kitchen, bathroom or garden; and will require water companies to help their customers cut water waste, and halve the amount they all use in the next 30 years.