This college student is influencing restaurants in India with just half a glass of water! #WATWB

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
14 million liters of water get wasted from restaurants alone every year. Shocked? Yes, but what can you do about it? The same question haunted 15 year old Garvita Gulhati from Bangalore a few years ago after she heard about it. But unlike the rest of us, who shrugged and moved on with our lives, she refused to let the fire in her die down.

Garvita co-founded 'Why Waste', a non-profit organization that worked with restaurants to help prevent wastage of water left in glasses, in addition to conducting awareness workshops at schools, colleges and offices.

In 2015, as a young teenager seeking to influence restaurant owners, Why Waste struggled with not even a single restaurant ready to listen to their pleas. It was so easy to give up. But the young team refused and went back to the drawing board and came up with new strategies to try to convince restaurant owners and staff to change their ways.

Garvita Gulhati was the only Indian to win the Global Changemaker award in 2018

And because of that never-say-die passion, young Garvita Gulhati was the only Indian to win the 'Global Changemaker' in 2018 at Zurich. (The Global Changemaker award is selected following three vigorous rounds of selections from applications sent from 185 countries.)

Garvita co-founded 'Why Waste', a non-profit organization that worked with restaurants to help prevent wastage of water left in glasses, in addition to conducting awareness workshops at schools, colleges and offices.
Source: Why Waste

The 'Half Glass Full' concept that 'Why Waste' advocates has in 2019 been supported by the National Restaurant Association of India, convincing over 100,000 restaurants to serve half-full glasses of water. The #HalfGlassFull concept aims to reduce water wastage by 50 % while also educating both the public as well as restaurants about the need of taking care of our limited water resources.

18 years old and a B Tech student in Bangalore, the 'fire within her to save water' still burns bright and today is bringing about massive changes across India. I got to speak to Garvita earlier this year.

I love how you persevered even when faced with opposition and lack of enthusiasm from restaurants initially. Can you recall any particular memory that spurred you to keep going during those times?

We did face a lot of drawbacks when we started. I remember talking with managers who had been from IIHM ( International Institute of Hotel Management) who told us about how they were taught sustainability in college but when it came to running a restaurant, they could not implement the same even if they wanted to because they had no say. Stories like his made us actually believe more because we realized there are people who want to help make a difference.

Garvita co-founded 'Why Waste', a non-profit organization that worked with restaurants to help prevent wastage of water left in glasses, in addition to conducting awareness workshops at schools, colleges and offices.

Even most of our own school teachers did not support us. There was one teacher though, a Ms Poornima, our environmental education teacher, who kept motivating us whenever we got poor feedback from restaurants. She kept telling us 'Someone is going to listen to you. Just keep going.'

It cannot be easy being so young and juggling studies with this. How do you make the time? Better yet, how do you relax in between 'Why Waste' and studies?

I am not someone who studies all the time ( more of the last minute types!). I think the key is to just focus. For me, Why Waste is relaxation. It is what I love doing. Every time I work on it, I feel really positive and I know I am making a positive difference to the world.

I also binge watch television shows so hey, there is time for that! The key is efficiency. For example, my daily travel takes around two hours and I utilize that time to work, read or just nap. I do my meetings and take my calls between breaks in college so I don't have to go home and worry about that at the end of the day. Whether if it is taking a break or practicing dance every day (I am a classical dancer), I make sure that whatever I am doing, I do that to the fullest. That is what makes it work. 

Tell us more about being the 'Global Changemaker' 

It is absolutely wonderful. The fact that I got to represent my country, meet and learn from so many other young change-makers, be inspired by them and come back wanting to make a bigger difference.

It has instilled in me the confidence that I can make a difference today. This was an opportunity for me to interact with such an outstanding and phenomenal global organization which is doing such brilliant work inspiring young people. 

What would you like us to do? 

What I would love everyone to do is to realize the amount of water that they are using on a daily basis. How much water are you actually consuming... more importantly, how much did you save?

When you start asking yourself how much you saved, you will start seeing the many ways in which you waste water. At the end of each day when you ask yourself how much did I save today, you can stand up proudly and show how big a difference you are making.

Author's note:
This is part of my  #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion. 

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity.

Want more stories of compassion to brighten up your day? Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' can be found here:

Heroes of Kindness - 2017 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2018 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2019 edition
Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly event to showcase stories of compassion. The idea is to spread positivity and light to counterbalance the negativity and darkness in social media. You can check their pages to find the list of feel-good stories written by bloggers from around the world.

Your cohosts for this month are: 

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Let me know what you think.

  1. So much is being done and stories like these tell us so much is needed to be done around us. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Well done, Garvita. While I am very conscious of both food and water wastage at home, I agree that water in restaurants is wasted a lot. I think the half glass water concept can make all of us more conscientious.

  3. We can always teach from our family. I keep telling my kids to take only that much water which you can finish. Else, take again. Simple steps like closing a running tap and many more these can be a great initiative starting from home.

  4. Well, this is amazing. I mean I will adopt to this now.

  5. Garvita, indeed we are proud of you. As a family, we try to consciously avoid wastage of water by not using showers for bath, closing the tap while brushing and pour a limited amount of water for drinking. I know these are minor steps but every drop counts.

  6. another inspiring story! Loving your series!

  7. wonderfull garvita.. ... nd thank you roshan..... :)

  8. What a simple yet such an effective, powerful and fabulous initiate to stop wastage of water. Kudos to Garvita for Why Waste? More power to her!

  9. This young lady is an inspiration! Water wastage is a serious issue and every little bit helps.


  10. How inspiring, that young Garvita has so much consciousness and commitment to helping conserve our water resources. And I like that she describes the glass as half full rather than half empty:) Thanks for sharing your compassionate philosophy, both professionally and personally. You certainly put a smile on this person’s face, whimsical writer. On to read your published stories...

  11. Hi Dr Roshan - such an excellent young lady ... and brilliant she had a mentor who kept encouraging her to keep going. Love the concept ... and yes we need to preserve as much water as we can ... put any spare in a container and water the garden if we or customers don't use it all ... a well deserved award. Cheers Hilary

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