water faucetIt’s the beginning of summer and that means three things: Father’s Day, graduation and, for many parts of the country (and the world), greatly increased water use.

People are out washing cars, watering lawns and gardens, slicking up Slip ‘n’ Slides and filling up pools. These are activities that make for great summers, but it also puts greater strain on municipal water supplies, which makes it an especially useful time to think about water conservation gifts for all those dads and grads out there.

Below we take a look at some gift ideas that can save water while still sweetening up somebody’s special day.

1. Waterless Car Wash Products

The waterless car wash is no longer the stuff of fiction: it comes in a bottle, is relatively inexpensive and is better for the environment than conventional car washing in more ways than one.

These products get cars clean by lifting dirt and grime away with powerful – yet environmentally safe – surfactants that are usually biodegradable, non-toxic and phosphate-free. What’s more, you do not use any water, although it’s so unconventional you’ll probably be tempted.

Manufacturers estimate you can save 20-100 gallons of water per wash, and the awesome thing is that you can wash your car anywhere. Grads and dads waiting for mom to find the perfect place setting for the celebration dinner can wash their cars in the store parking lot. Bam!

2. Water Filter Bottles

Perhaps not as radical as water-free car washing (but definitely just as cool) is the newest generation of water bottles that contain filters inside. This means no more transferring water from your filter jug at home into your to-go bottle, then refilling the jug, etc. etc. Just fill up the bottle and go.

The best part about this is that it’ll curb any lingering habit you may have of buying bottled water, which should be a no-no in any conservationist’s playbook. Bottled water is little more than a marketing gimmick (at least in the U.S.), and water from the tap is just as healthy.

Even so, these bottles can also remove “funny” odors and tastes that sometime come out of the tap, usually from chlorine.

3. Drip Irrigation Kits

Drip irrigation is a great way to save water while still getting your plants what they need. It works by releasing just the right amount of water at the root so less is wasted by runoff and evaporation. These systems can also be automated, which can help save even more water.

One may think that drip irrigation sounds too complicated to be worth the trouble, but that’s what makes the kits great. You can design your own kit or get help, and with a few clicks of a button you can have exactly what you need based on your soil type, plants and other factors to get you on your way to more environmentally sound watering. It’ll lower your water bill in the long run and can also be more finely calibrated to ensure your plants aren’t getting too little or too much water.

4. Water Conservation Books

As nerdy as it may sound, knowledge is often the best gift you can give a person. Sure, it may be true that the last thing a college grad wants to see is another book, but that feeling will pass eventually, especially if they end up surfing on a couch while they wait to discover their dream!

There are lots of great books out there, from how-to help books to the history of water, and on to the future of water resources in the world. This latter area of study could prove very helpful to anyone who wants to know what they can do now to alleviate the stresses of the global water crisis before irreparable harm comes to the planet’s most precious natural resource.

5. Memberships and Donations

There is a vast array of non-profits out there fighting the war on water scarcity, and they all need more help. From Project WET to Water for People, these organizations use science and technology along with expert networking to fund water projects at home and abroad for those who need it most.

Many groups offer hands-on opportunities as well if a donation seems a little too disconnected for people who really want to get involved. Some non-profits organize trips to help the world’s most water poor, or ask volunteers to contribute in their own communities through fundraisers, river cleanup projects and other activities.

So congrats to all those grads, and thanks to all those dads, and here’s to enjoying doing a little bit more to save the planet.