Be a Water Warrior 

A blog post for World Water Week on why every drop counts and what you can do to help.

Garvita Gulhati
 Six-year-old Kavya drinks clean water from a metal cup.
17 August 2021

With the most recent IPCC report, finding breakthrough, innovative ways to reduce rising global temperatures is now probably at the top of all of our minds. In this race to COP26, as our world leaders convene to consume this report written over eight years by 234 volunteer scientists and build policies that will shape our futures, there’s a lot more we need to do than simply hope and ask for the best. We need to come together to act, impact and change the way that we live everyday. We need to inspire through action and build resilience. Small actions count, everyone’s impact makes a difference and so does yours. Getting started might seem hard but once you do, you will become part of a powerful community of changemakers who are transforming the way the world works and you will everyday become an example for your community to do better.  

Here are things to remember as you embark on your journey as a Water Warrior and changemaker:  

Looking at the Glass Half Full!   

Looking at water with a positive perspective, always taking just as much as you need and not wasting is integral to protecting it as a resource. Change on a large scale happens through systemic transformations. Build local, act global.  

In 2015, India faced one of its worst drought crisis ever. I learnt that fourteen million liters of water is wasted every year in the water that we leave behind in glasses at restaurants and began noticing this first hand. The triviality of this egregious number moved me. That day, I became committed to saving every drop of water I possibly could and launched Why Waste? with the goal of changing the mindsets of people towards water. Even though the efforts were futile to start with, I chose not to give up on innovating. I re-approached approached the problem of water being wasted in restaurants with the "Glass Half Full" concept - looking at water with a positive perspective where waiters fill the glass only half instead of full, so that people take just as much water as they need and don’t waste. Glass Half Full was a simple idea that was easy to adopt in not just a single restaurant, but in restaurants across India.  It did more than just get people to fill their glasses in half. It made them start thinking about how they were consuming water every single day. It made them question their habits and behavior towards water in every aspect of their life. They began looking at the water crisis optimistically, with the glass half full, because now they had become a part of the solution. Their mindset and the systems began transforming.   

A young woman, Garvita, pouring a glass of water.
Photo supplied
Garvita Gulhati is a Young Water Warrior working passionately to save water.

Raise your voice for issues that matter to you, mobilize people to support you and ask authorities to work with you to build that impact  

After three years of trying to convince individual restaurants to save water, we finally partnered with the NRAI on World Water Day 2019 after getting 15,000+ signatures on our petition. We took the idea of #GlassHalfFull to the 500,000 restaurants across the country that they represent and prevented over 10 million liters of water from being wasted! Through the course of the next year, we took the #GlassHalf Full idea to over eight countries, it had become an idea everyone was adopting in their own simple ways. There was something very exciting about this concept that allowed it to take off. It impacted everyone, helped everyone and belonged to everyone.  

When you are trying to transform multiple entities in a system, look for what benefits each entity, uniquely, and you will easily find what benefits everyone as an ecosystem, making them part of your change.    

Change mindsets, right from the start  

Our mindsets are shaped as we grow up. The younger we are, the more curious we are about the world around us and are keen to make it a better place. Sharing ideas of change with the youngest generation is sure to help us embark onto a powerful future, one where every citizen is part of change. Our book - "The Sustainability Stories" has been published on Pratham's Storyweaver and already has over 9000+ reads! We worked with UNICEF to make these stories into fun interactive videos, the first of which you can watch.

For kids, by kids, this book aims to shape eco-friendly mindsets and inspire kids to be the change they wish to see in the world.   

Bring people together, change together - Let your ideas for change belong to the world  

Change is the only constant, but now, the world is in constant need of changemakers. Allow your ideas to be easy to adopt by everyone,  and let everyone own it. Ideas of change belong to the world. They cannot be patented, they mustn't be copyrighted. When anyone and everyone is excited to adapt your idea in their environment, that is real change. Even today, I get messages and calls from people around the world sharing stories of how they adopted #GlassHalfFull in their communities.    

Believe in yourself and your idea for others to be able to adapt it too  

Change happens together, change starts alone. A very simple theory called believe and make believe. Today some of the biggest companies and brands in the world make us love them and believe in their visions. They do this by making us believe in what they believe because they believe in it day in and day out. That’s what change is all about! Believe in your ideas and live them everyday. Before you know it, that idea will be living with everyone around you and beyond.   

Your capabilities lie beyond your capacity to believe in them. Show resilience every step of the way, it can make or break your efforts as a social entrepreneur. Moreover, your team is one of your most invaluable sources of energy in the most trying times. So make sure you build a great one, filled with people who believe in your ideas just as much as you do.   

Don’t forget to celebrate the change you have impacted!   

Some of the most heartwarming moments of success came from people who would share images of empty glasses on their tables and young changemakers who briefly interned or volunteered with us and went on to start their own ventures, crediting their time with us being an invaluable source of inspiration to push them to get started and our continued support on their journey.  

When you work toward making a difference, don't forget to look back and see how far you've come, and see the change that you've created.   

A group from Why Waste pose in team photo.
Photo supplied
Young team members of Why Waste?, led by Garvita Gulhati, are working to preserve water through their various initiatives.

Adopt simple changes in your life - optimize your water consumption   

You can save at least 100 liters of water every single day (yes you read that right, 100!) by doing simple things like turning off your taps, showering less, taking bucket baths, using front-load washing machines, and so much more.

In 2017, when the city of Cape Town almost hit day zero, it was the collective contribution of every single citizen, calculating their water consumption and rationing water that ensured everyone got just as much as they needed, didn’t waste and could collaboratively evade what would have become on of the worst days in the history of the world. 

Inspired by the resilience shown by the citizens of Cape Town, we wanted to take their efforts to every part of the world. Our app, created with the goal of helping every single person become part of the solution, saw over 500 downloads within the first months. People are excited with the idea that they now have the capacity to change and be part of the change from wherever they are. The app helps you calculate your #waterfootprint and hand holds you by teaching you ways to save at least 100 liters of water every day!  

To me this journey has only been a stepping stone to understanding some of the world’s most pressing issues and our collective contribution in tackling them.   

I would encourage anyone reading this to take the plunge. Take that first step toward making a difference, even if it starts with changing your own lifestyle or habits. Every drop counts, and we’re here to help make everyone’s contribution count!   

Garvita Gulhai's profile photo
Photo supplied
Garvita Gulhati is a Water Warrior working on various initiatives to preserve water.

About Garvita

Garvita, India's Water Girl, began her journey as a changemaker at the age of 13. In the year 2015, deeply impacted by the water crisis India faced, she founded Why Waste?, with the aim of changing people's mindsets towards water by building simple solutions to solve the global water crisis. For her efforts, Garvita has been recognized by various platforms including The Diana Award, Earth Day Network, and Ashoka, and was the youngest Social Entrepreneur in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 list.