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4 alternatives to water balloon fights with little to zero waste: sustainable water games

If you’re looking for water games for kids or adults to wrap up the summer, we have a great list for you. As families prepare for back-to-school season, here are ideas for low-contact, low waste water games to wrap up the sunny days.

Water balloons are a classic water game for families, adults and youth, but balloons are not the best for the environment. When balloons touch down on the ground, they create litter – litter that also pollutes waterways and land, where it enters the ecosystem of wildlife animals, disrupting natural diets, habitats, and more.

Balloon littering waterways and land, causing pollution

Not sure the proper way to dispose of balloons? They likely belong in the garbage, but it’s best to check if your municipality is part of the Recycle Coach network and download the app; there, you’ll find our Ask Milo “What Goes Where?” search tool. Alternatively, you can visit your municipality’s recycling rules and requirements.

If you have a field day or party that could use water games, what are the alternatives to water balloon fights? Below are suitable fun games to play with water, minus the balloons.

Alternatives to water balloon fights to beat the heat


Water games for field day, parties, or just your backyard on a hot, summer day is refreshing. While fun water balloon games for adults and kids are common, here are a few ideas to cool down without the potentially problematic balloon.

Water gun fight

We would never condone violence, but a water gun fight is a fun, classic alternative to water balloon fights. It’s just as active; you’re required to run and chase each other around. You can reuse water guns summer after summer. Because most of them do as little as squirt water at other players, you’re less likely to use as much water.

And in our post-Covid19 lockdown world, it’s perfect in ensuring distance between players.

Cup-to-Cup Water Race Game

This game requires two buckets, a queue of players, a reusable cup, some water. Players line up in a single queue with one bucket filled with water in front of the first player, and the empty second bucket behind the last player.

  • The first player fetches the water from the bucket.
  • The cup is passed to the player behind over their head without turning their body.
  • The team passes the cup overhead from one person to the one behind them, until the last person can pour it all into the empty bucket behind them.

The first team to finish the water from the first bucket wins! For added difficulty-such as if adults are playing this water game-players can wear blindfolds.

This cup-to-cup water game replaces the water balloon passing game while eliminating the use of balloons, increasing the chances for more soaked players, and keeps minimal contact between players. Once again, unlike the water balloon game, this water game uses fewer disposable materials.

Wet Sponge or Fabric Ball Throwing Game

A wet sponge throwing game creates just as much cooled down, soaked up fun for the family without using disposable, harmful balloons. You can even create sponge balls for absorbent, soft projectiles to replace water balloons.

However, something to remember about most daily sponges is that they are usually made with oil-made plastic particles. These sponges, while reusable, are likely made of a material that still harms the environment in its production and when it breaks down.

An eco-friendlier option can be double the fun: an arts and crafts upcycling project, making some old fabrics into a rag/sponge that can hold water and be tossed around.

If a DIY project isn’t up your alley, you can also simply bundle old shirts into balls and ribbons, dip them in water, and toss them around the same way you would with a water balloon.

Visit the beach or waterfront

Following Covid 19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, visit your nearby beach, river, pond, or lake and take a dip! Splash around without the need for any tools or toys – just the joy of kicking over waves and swatting water at each other.

Child splashing in the water

Being mindful of water conservation while enjoying water games

While these ideas serve alternatives to water balloon fights and water games for your field day and parties, it’s important to remember that water is a finite resource and should not be wasted.

While it’s easy to take water for granted when it flows so freely through your kitchen faucet, many regions around the globe are experiencing shortages. For other activities you can consider outside of this popular water game, check out our post on how to enjoy the summer in an eco-friendly way while staying responsible.