By Avani Mishra*
“Over 14 million litres of water get wasted just in the glasses we leave behind at the restaurants” – statement and figure that surely make us stop think and wonder, but for Garvita Gulhati, 21, it did a little more than just that.
So abundant at its source but so scarce as a resource, water conservation is something we all know about but are hardly able to do anything about other than making sure to close the tap while brushing and washing dishes. To Garvita, it was all about taking that first step and then the next one.
After following the crucial steps of identifying the root problem and finding a solution, expanding on the idea is what makes all the difference. In this case, looking at the trend being followed in restaurants of keeping the customer’s glasses always filled up made her realize how much this issue was being taken for granted. It was this and several other instances that led to the foundation of Why Waste?, a non-profit organization that works through simple measures to help conserve our precious resource. In order to reduce the water being spilled away from the glasses after the customer leaves, Why waste?, wrote a petition to the Nation Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and started a movement #GlassHalfFull” which asked the waiters to not fill up the glasses up to the brim for a simple reason of using only as much as is required.
This movement, now being followed in over five lakhs restaurants across the nation, has already made a huge and considerable impact in reduction of the amount of water wasted.
Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, recipient of The Diana award, and Ashoka Young Changemaker – Garvita stresses upon how young people can drastically and dramatically bring about a real change in the environment we live in. Youth today has grown looking for a better way of living and is more aware of the problems around, than the older generations, along with being more practical about the kind of solutions that are required to tackle them.
It often becomes a wonder how big of a difference a small step like this can bring about. Everyone is an activist. Everyone has at least that one thing they passionately want to bring a change in. At the end, it is all about finding the right means and having the spark to make a difference. It could be by going around and talking to people about your cause, holding rallies, campaigning or by yourself taking an action towards it. Finding the right balance between the ways of execution, can make this world a better place for us as well as our future generations.
For a 15-year-old to start her journey as an activist, no doubt, there were questions raised even by the near and dear ones as to how it was going to impact her academic career. But to make a change, you have to be the change and that came with no less sacrifices. She chose to stay back in her hometown for higher studies even after being accepted on scholarship in two International universities, because being passionate about the cause and the willingness to work towards it is all what ultimately mattered. When being told to wait until being settled, she had one response- the problems around the world are not going to wait for me. NOW is all you have and being a change maker requires taking those small steps in the present to see the impact in your future.
We often hear about that one young person who brought about a change. Its unimaginable how much of an impeccable difference it would have if every youth is able to make time for what really matters and bring about just that one small change towards increasing the longevity of our mother earth.
Six years after its inception, Why Waste? being funded by three global organizations, most recently, the Shawn Mendez Foundation, works on a zero budget model in order to spend in places only where it is absolutely necessary. It now has its own mobile application for the general public to keep a track of their water usage so that they are aware about how much of it gets unconsciously wasted by them and the kind of impact small steps can make in towards the betterment of the environment.
There are things happening all around us on an everyday basis. The problems are right in front of us and so are the solutions. It is all about recognizing them and executing your ideas in the most efficient and economical way possible. Be the change, or at least part of the change you want to see in the world to make it a better place.
*Student of the PGP 2020-2022 at IIM Bangalore