March 22, 2021


By 2020 Diana Award recipient, Garvita Gulhati from Bangalore, India

Water warrior Garvita founded ‘Why Waste?’ to make individuals and institutions more aware of water conservation across India. The youth-led organisation is changing mindsets and habits through activities such as, its ‘glass half-full’ online campaign and the ‘How to Save 100 Litres Every Day’ app.

Save water, it will save you later.

A few years ago, during a trip to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, my family and I were visiting one of the most iconic stepwells in the world. A frail child ran up to us and pointed at the bottle in my hand – she wanted some water. I gave it to her and watched as her eyes lit up and a smile adorned her face as the water quenched her thirst. I couldn’t stop thinking about the encounter. This experience was pivotal, making me realise how important water is and how so many of us often take it for granted.

According todata from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, 3.2 billion people live in agricultural areas with high to very high water shortages or scarcity. Yet, fourteen million litres of water is wasted every year from the water we leave behind in glasses at restaurants alone.

We can prevent this! 

After learning that, on average, 14 million litres of water is wasted every year in the water that we leave behind in glasses at restaurants, Garvita started a campaign to educate people about how not to waste and taught restaurant staff to fill glasses only half full.

I founded Why Waste? In 2015 with the goal of changing mindsets towards water. I approached the problem of water being wasted in restaurants with the “Glass Half Full” campaign – using place-cards to tell customers emotive stories, just like that of the girl I had encountered at the stepwell. We encouraged them to fill their glass half full, taking only as much as they needed and discovered that this saved 50% of the water being wasted.

In 2018, we petitioned the National Restaurants Association of India and campaigned for the concept to be adopted by the half a million restaurants they represent. Ever since our team has been able to prevent over 10 million litres of water from being wasted and has reached over 6 million people with our ideas for change.

Why Waste? has taught me that every single idea for creating change matters. No matter how small, big, simple or complex, if it can have a positive impact on the world, it matters.

Garvita, now 21, continues to inspire young people through her initiatives and stories geared towards water waste and education.

So, how can you be a part of the solution?

We often ignore the importance of water because it is so easily available to us. Unfortunately, the price of our exploitation is paid by people who can’t afford to, while we turn a blind eye to them. But there is hope. It rides on the back of each and every one of us being more mindful of our water consumption.

Every revolution starts with a change, and it is much easier if a large amount of people take a small step individually, than a small number of people trying to make up for it by taking larger steps. If everyone contributes towards a good cause, the changes in our lifestyle would be minimal, and yet we’d be creating such better futures for a lot more people.

Let’s be the responsible generation. Let’s make sure that every single time we use water, we take only as much as we need, we finish it, and we teach the same to everyone around us.

Here are some ways in which you can work towards saving water in your day-to-day life:

1. Turn off the taps.
Save 6 litres of water a minute by turning off your tap while you brush your teeth. Fix leaky taps too – and stop what could be 60 litres of water going straight down the drain every week.

2. Shower with less.
Every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of wate. Set a timer on your phone to keep your showers short, sweet and water-saving.

3. Save up your dirty clothes.
Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than 2 half-loads. This means lower bills as well.

4. Boil what you need.
Save water, money and energy by only boiling as many cups of water as you need.

5. Steam your veggies.
Steam your food to cut water usage and retain more of the natural nutrients. If you do boil, try using the leftover water as a tasty stock for soups. Or let it cool and use it to water plants

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