Green and Simple: Water … How Do You Carry Yours?

This piece originally appeared in my Green and Simple column on the Old Town Alexandria Patch.

School is almost out for my girls and my son will likely have an abbreviated summer schedule at his year-round preschool. We have been getting ready for summer fun and recently upgraded our water-toting gear.

We have been using reusable water bottles for ages and have gone through more than I care to count. As one who likes to be prepared, I usually purchase two water bottles for each kid, color-coded to avoid confusion and disputes.

A couple of years ago, we replaced our plastic water bottles with newer BPA-free versions. After that, we replaced them with stainless steel. While those have been working out just fine, when we have a day out, they add a lot of extra weight to my backpack. With bottles that hold 20 ounces each, hauling water for a family of five can be quite a chore.

When one of my daughters spotted a hydration pack on the back of a fellow runner at a recent 5K and pleaded for one, I did a double take. I am not a serious biker or runner, so I was not familiar with hydration packs. But, I was curious to learn more, so we stopped by a sporting goods store later that morning.

Once I saw the price of the packs, I pretty much dismissed the idea, though I agreed to shop around online, with my fingers crossed that I would find a stellar bargain. Unfortunately, the prices online were not much better.

Imagine my delight when we stumbled upon the anniversary sale REI a couple weeks ago – the prices of all of the hydration packs were reduced. I almost squealed when we discovered that they had mini-hybrid models that held a water reservoir and had additional pockets for snacks, a small lunch, sunscreen, a hat, etc. Even with the sale, the price for three packs was still more than I wanted to spend. Fortunately, my sister, Kim, was in town for the week and insisted on buying the packs for her nieces and nephew for their upcoming birthdays. The kids were elated and my back was relieved!

Now, when we head out for an outing or day trip, the kids are responsible for their own water, snacks, lunch, etc. No longer must I cart around a mega-backpack with all of the essentials. I love that the weight is more evenly distributed, that the kids are eager to tote their own gear, and that they have enough water to last the good part of a day. Because they wear the packs on their backs, we no longer have to fret about water bottles left at the park or playground. And, the chilled reservoir serve as personal, on-board cooling system, keeping their bodies comfortable on hot and steamy days.

Although there are many benefits to having the packs, there is one drawback. Because of the fun experiencing life as a camel by carrying water on one’s back and of using the even-more-fun, hands-free water deliver system, the kids really guzzle it up. This, of course, means more frequent trips to the bathroom, which is not always convenient. Fortunately, thanks to three summer pregnancies, I know where to find bathrooms around town in a pinch.

However you take your water, keep it green and simple: use a resuable container and avoid disposable plastic bottles as much as possible.


Filed Under: Eco-Kids

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