Can you use only one gallon of water per day for all your needs*??

Adapted from Gallon Challenge USA, created by Alissa Stevens (, this LAUNCH toolkit challenges you, your classmates, and community to live off of only one gallon of water for an entire day to experience a day in the life of those who don’t have a clean, reliable water resource.

*Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is VERY important! Do not compromise your health to participate in the Gallon Challenge.

Toolkit Details


This toolkit address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: 6-8 and 9-12

  • Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Learning Objectives

  • Analysis
    • Students will analyze their personal water usage and how they can reduce their footprint
  • Project Management
    • Students will practice leadership skills by delegating tasks to each other
    • Students will identify routines to accomplish their goal
  • Evaluation and Assessment
    • Students will track and evaluate

What is the Gallon Challenge?

The Gallon Challenge is a call to action to inspire and raise awareness about the global water crisis. The challenge is simple: Live off of one gallon of water for 1 day for all your needs.

What You Will Accomplish

Conserving water is crucial for our future. By conserving clean water, you will:

  • Prepare for, or even stop, future droughts
  • Increase water for others, as it is essential to all humans, plants, and animals
  • Save energy
  • Save money on your utility bills (water and electric!)
  • Become more aware of your water-use habits and discover how much we use water every day
  • Develop gratitude for the clean, reliable water you have

Why Should You Host The Gallon Challenge?

The resources provided below can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.

Gallon Challenge InfoGraphic

Why Should You Host The Gallon Challenge?

Of all the water on Earth, only 3% exists as freshwater while the remaining amount is saltwater located in our oceans. Furthermore, only 0.5% of earth’s fresh water is usable by humans since a majority is either frozen or deep underground. [1]

We Use a Lot of Water!

It may not seem like it, but the average American uses 82 gallons of water every day [1]. That is enough water to fill up a full size bathtub twice! If you count every single day in a year, the average American uses nearly 30,000 gallons of water annually. On a global scale, humans use 4 trillion cubic meters of water every year.   [2]  and [3]

Water Moves Slowly!

If you were to follow the journey of a single drop of water in the ocean, it would take 3,000 years before it could evaporate into our atmosphere. That means some parcels of ocean water would not become freshwater until the year 5021. Moreover, some of the oldest ice sheets in Antarctica have not moved in 2.7 million years! [4]

Water Pollution is Increasing!

Remember that water is used for a variety of industries in addition to maintaining our daily health. Every product requires water for manufacturing, which leads to unwanted pollution. In fact, the UN estimates that 80% of sewage systems–in developing countries–are left untreated and pollute local lakes, rivers, and coastal regions. [5]

Clean Water is an Environmental Justice Issue

In recent years, we’ve seen cases of contaminated water, most notably Flint, Michigan in the USA, rising water bills due to drought, and local governments not proactively investing in water infrastructure. Communities that aren’t directly at risk can’t fully relate. For example, what if you woke up in the morning and turned on the tap to wash your face, but it was dry? What if, instead of going to school, you had to spend hours a day traveling to get clean water for the day—an amount so small you had to choose which uses for the water were most important?

Are We Running Out of Clean Water?

Think About It!

Pre-Activity Questions

  • Where do you see water being used the most?
  • What do you think happens to water after it’s used or wasted?
  • Describe a time where you saw water being wasted or overused.
  • Why do you think conserving water is important?

Take Action: How to LAUNCH the Gallon Challenge

Follow the steps below to set up a successful Gallon Challenge at your school! Need help? Contact us!

Step 1: Decide Who’s Participating

Use this Sign Up Sheet to invite fellow classmates to take on the Gallon Challenge. Here are some ideas: 

  • An existing Green club
  • A group of friends
  • A whole class

Step 2: Get Permission

Obtain necessary permission to start the Challenge (principal, parents, etc). Due to the nature of this Challenge, please make sure that all parents and necessary administration are aware and approves of the activity. 

Step 3: Gather Your Materials

Obtain a clean one gallon container for each participant.

Save and clean out a gallon milk container or another sealed gallon container with a handle (you’ll be carrying it all day!) (Or use a 1-liter reusable bottle you can fill 4 times)

Step 4: Choose a Date

As a team, choose a date/24 hour time period for everyone to take on the Gallon Challenge together.

Step 5: Design your Plan

Set your team up for success! Before your Challenge day, plan out the 24 hour challenge together. Here are some things to consider: What are you going to use the water for? How much water does it take to brush your teeth? Bathe? Wash that apple for your lunch? Don’t forget to think about how much you’ll drink! Use this chart to help plan out your 24 hours.

Step 6: Challenge Day!

On the day of the Challenge:

  • Fill up your clean gallon container with clean/drinkable water.
  • As you use your water, use a marker to create a line to indicate how much water you have used, at what time you used and what it was used for. Enter your details in this tracker. 
  • Create a hashtag on instagram or other social media platforms to post how you’re doing, see how others are doing and inspire your community! 
  • Plan the Challenge day for a weekend, where you can make use of your own kitchen and bathroom.
  • Take a lot of pictures and videos to document your day.
  • Work together, with Covid safety precautions in mind. If possible, get together with a teammate or two to take on the Challenge together! Take on the challenge with your families!
  • Put reminders around the classroom or your home (ex: near sinks) so you don’t turn on the faucet – you’ll be amazed at how automatic the reach for the knob is!

Step 7: Share Your Success!

  • Create a presentation to share with your school on your experience and the importance of conserving water.
  • Use the hashtag “#thegallonchallenge” plus your own hashtags to share your success via social media and inspire others.

Reflection Questions

How’d It Go?

  • What were some small wins that happened during your project? 
  • What was the hardest thing about the Gallon Challenge?
  • Having gone through this experience for one day, how do you think your daily life would be if clean water wasn’t a guarantee? 
  • Will you be changing your water habits as a result of the challenge? If so, how?

Report Students’ Impact

Congratulations!! You’ve implemented the Gallon Challenge! Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Submit your results by clicking the green button below.

Project ongoing? No problem! Let us know what you’ve done so far. 

By reporting your impact, Grades of Green can:

  • CELEBRATE and elevate your students’ hard work and success. 
  • Offer our programs FREE for all students across the globe. 
  • AWARD stipends and certificates to hard-working educators and students.

Please take a few minutes to submit your results. Thank you!

Provided Resources

Congrats on completing the Gallon Challenge! 

Did you enjoy this toolkit? Find your next project here!