You all have come across this line at least for once in your life- “Jal hi Jeevan hai (water is life)”. But only a nano percent of the population has given it a serious thought and understand the significance of water in our lives.
LifeBeyondNumbers had a tête-à-tête with an enthusiastic 18-year-old Garvita Gulhati from Bengaluru, who has come up with a thought-provoking initiative to counter water wastage by making every drop count. Through her initiative “Why Waste?”, she sensitizes people and wants people to understand that how “saving as little as a glass of water makes a really huge difference.”
“When you want to bring change, you have to take the charge, you cannot wait for others to step forward and then join the crowd.” That is exactly what Garvita has done.
An engineering student from PES University, Garvita was 15-years-old when she came across a presentation by Kuldeep Dantewadia, CEO of Reap Benefits. He showed that how every year, 14 million liters of water get wasted from restaurants. This very fact sent chills down her spine and she understood that water crisis across the country needed immediate attention. Therefore, instead of complaining and accusing others, she decided to do something about it and that’s how “Why Waste?” came into being.
Initially, the organization was founded by Garvita Gulhati and Pooja Tanawade. Age is no bar for innovative ideas and that is what Garvita has always believed in. You will understand why the young minds are best when you come across her methods to curb the water crisis in India. The teenagers followed one simple rule to optimize usage and prevent wastage of water. She wanted to make people conscious of how much they are using when they are using and how they are using.
Before The Beginning
People fail to realize that wasted water is also a resource and can be reused for several purposes. She says, “I was shocked to see the amount of water that people leave behind in the restaurants. This bothered me so much, and therefore, I wanted to do something about it. That is how I decided to sensitize people and make them aware of something as natural as water resources cannot be wasted.”
Proceeding with the water crisis in Bengaluru, she says, “We do not tend to care much if we are not affected ourselves.” Getting the personal taste of an issue as serious as this affected Garvita when she had no water in her house. This incident triggered her to do something about it. “I felt that if today I don’t have water and I do nothing about it, the scenario will remain the same for many more years and therefore, I wanted to make a difference.”
Why Is Wasted Water A Resource Too?
Garvita started to figure out the key areas of the problem and that is when she decided to take restaurants and eateries into account where there was a huge possibility of saving wasted water. Since then, she has been to numerous restaurants in person and informed them about optimizing their water usage. “The issue we focus on is the amount of water that is left in the glasses at restaurants. We do this through diverse techniques and methods to minimize the wastage,” she said.
“I realized public awareness is crucial in this case, people needed to understand that they are wasting water. We wanted to sensitize people about the water that is left behind- what do you do to save it, that is the idea we throw at them.”
Through numerous models and the artwork, Garvita tries to make people alert and understand the need for saving wasted water. Apart from Mumbai, they have chapters in Delhi, Nagpur, Kolkata, and Hyderabad as well.
The initiative is not restricted to India and she along with her team is also trying to study the status in US and UK, to make people and food chains understand the concept of water wastage there and to make them understand how the left behind water can be saved.
Garvita says the water wastage is not restricted to restaurants. “Due to lack of conscience, we end up wasting water in several instances in our lives.”
To counter such wastage, we can focus on small changes:
- Instead of standing under the shower while bathing, we shift to a bucket, that contributes a lot to minimize wastage. Wasting water without realizing it, might just stop this.
- Filling your glass 5 times half and not 3 times full, whenever you drink water- be it your home or when you are at a restaurant. The habit of leaving the extra water in the glass and not giving a damn to the H2O crisis might just reduce if you become a little careful.
- Keep the tap open while brushing your teeth and you end up wasting so many liters of water. Why not take the water you need in a glass and gargle to clean your mouth and shut the tap? asks Garvita.
“People should question themselves that how much water have I saved today? A shift in conscience can make a lot of difference. Through our efforts, we have managed to save 8 lakh liters of water and have expanded all these chapters.”
Why Young Minds Are Best!
Through her journey, Garvita found out areas to focus on where the water wastage is huge. She has now got connected to several offices, NGOs and schools to bring in this process of trying to save water.
“We haven’t had extensive collaborations, but we have had support from organizations like The Ashoka and Global Shapers, who try to help us our ideas and other methods.”
“Why Waste?” is an organization that aims to change the mindsets of people towards natural resources and the environment- to optimize usage, prevent wastage.
“The idea is to realize all the different ways in which we tend to waste water in our lives without realizing, and then changing our behavior so we are now asking ourselves at the end of each day- how much water did I save today?”
Apart from “Why Waste?”, Garvita has two other organizations, one is the “Changemakers Society” and the other one is “LeadYoung” at schools.
Through “Changemakers Society” initiative she wants to empower college-going youths to use their knowledge and abilities to build a more sustainable society. Garvita says, “It starts off with getting them to work towards making their university eco-friendly and self-sustainable, and it is followed by helping them create, innovate, and live the sustainable life!”
Her another initiative, “LeadYoung” at schools is a collaborative initiative with Ashoka, which is one of the largest networks of social entrepreneurs worldwide. “Through this program, we share the importance of change making in youths to help build a better world. This is done primarily through stories of youngsters who started creating social change at a young age and are today super successful.”
Her effort to curb water crisis doesn’t stop here. Ecotonix is also the brainchild of Garvita. Through a series of cartoons, graphics and blending it with humor, she counters environmental and social issues in a subtle and humorous manner and believes that a picture with a message works best with people.
“I remember when I was in 6th grade I saw a cartoon in a newspaper in which it was basically a bus driver driving tourists to see a monument, which was actually a tree and instead of carrying backpacks, they were carrying oxygen bags. That really left an impact on me for a long time. So, I thought if that stayed in my mind for looking at it once, it can create wonders, if people look at it or come across it on a daily basis.”
Why Is India Under Water Stress?
The Niti Aayog report mentions that “By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply. This will cause severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people.” We won’t have to wait till then, because the impact of water crisis will be huge by 2020 itself and it is expected that 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater.
Last year, in 2017, a government data was released that said the annual per capita availability of water fell from 1,820 cubic meters in 2001 to 1,545 cubic meters in 2011. This may further fall to 1,341 cubic meters in 2025. Annual per capita water availability below 1,700 cubic meters is considered to be a water-stressed situation.
The report further mentioned that “There is an imminent need to deepen our understanding of our water resources and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable.” It also said that the policymakers are having a tough time because there are not enough data available on how households and industries use and manage water.
Even though the problem of the water crisis in India is huge but young minds like Garvita is not stepping back. For her efforts, she was selected to represent India at the Google expeditions in August 2016 for the virtual reality classrooms under the domain of youth social entrepreneurship.
“Thousands Lived without Love, but not without water.” W. H. Auden, a famous English-American poet, said once a long time ago.
Every year, around 200,000 Indians die because they have no access to clean water. People, it’s time now to set your priorities right!