10 Earth Day Activities for Families

Do the Laundry Together

Teach your kids about water conservation with a practical example: the laundry. Do a few loads of laundry with your kids and show them that they rely on water (and energy) more than they realize. The average household washes 400 loads of laundry every year, so teaching the younger generation some smart laundry practices on Earth Day makes good sense.

Younger kids like folding laundry, and they even enjoy loading the washing machine, so let them do the honors with you standing by to supervise. Whether you have a front-loader, energy-efficient top-loader or old-style agitator washing machine, watching it fill with water, drain and spin will give your kids a better appreciation for the amount of water it takes to do a load of laundry.

Have a gallon bucket standing buy for comparison and share these laundry facts:

  • The average front-load washing machine uses around 20 gallons in every load.
  • The average agitator top load washing machine uses 40 gallons of water per load.
  • A little more than 20 percent of the average family's indoor water consumption is laundry related. Yikes.

If you have older kids, share these water and energy saving laundry tips with them:

  • Always wash and dry a full load.
  • Most of the energy consumption used to wash clothes is expended heating the water, so whenever possible, use warm or cold water wash settings.
  • Instead of washing really dirty clothes twice, presoak them first. You'll save water and energy.
  • When drying laundry, work assembly line style: Remove a load from the dryer while the drum is still warm, and place a freshly washed wet load inside right away. You'll make use of the residual heat in the dryer and save energy -- and time [source: California Energy Commission].