Action Tips: Compete With Family Members to Save Water at Home


A typical American uses about 100 gallons of water every day. However, the minimum amount of water needed for drinking, cooking, bathing and sanitation is 13 gallons. Host a contest that challenges each member of your family to reduce his or her water consumption.

  1. Have each person write down everything that he or she uses water for in daily life.
  2. Look up and assign water amounts to each activity on each person's list. For instance:
    • A four minute shower: 20 gallons
    • Bathing in a full tub: 30-50 gallons
    • Flushing the toilet: 5-7 gallons per flush for an old toilet (those built before 1982). New toilets only use 1.6 gallons a flush
    • Washing hands: 4 gallons per minute
    • Brushing teeth: 4 gallons per minute
    • Doing laundry: 43 gallons per load
  3. Now challenge everyone to see who can use the least water in one day. Assign a special prize or recognition to people who keep it at 13 gallons.
  4. Allow people to have unlimited amounts of drinking water (you don't want to send anyone to the hospital).
  5. When people report back, discuss what everyone learned. Ask questions like:
    • What was the hardest part of life without water?
    • How long do you think you could live with just 13 gallons of water each day?
    • Who did you tell about the challenges of going without water when you were doing it?
    • Did you know that people abroad survive on just 8 gallons of water a day?

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Source: Southwest Florida Water Management DistrictConsumer Energy CenterGreen Cities CaliforniaPacific Institute