BENGALURU: Garvita Gulhati isn’t a typical college-going student. For one, she doesn’t have social media accounts, and second, she doesn’t binge watch TV shows. Instead, the 19-year-old student from PES University is on a mission to conserve water, for which she has been going from restaurant to restaurant requesting managers to fill only half a glass of water unless otherwise requested for by the customer. Her initiative #GlassHalfFull, which she started at the age of 15, has borne fruit with 200 restaurants adopting the campaign and now, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), which represents over 1,00,000 restaurants, has extended its support.
A few years ago Gulhati suddenly started noticing news articles on droughts and water-related issues across the country. What particularly struck her was an article on 14 million litres of water being wasted every year, simply because customers at restaurants leave behind half-empty glasses. “I started researching on how we waste water without realising it and decided to teach people water management,” she says. She visited several restaurants to pitch the idea of filling only half a glass, which would save 50 per cent of water that was being wasted earlier.
When she started her online petition, it wasn’t easy to convince people who would advice Gulhati to concentrate on her studies. “Many schoolmates would say I was doing this to earn fame as they did not realise the importance of carrying out the drive. It was only my environmental studies teacher who motivated me to take the movement forward,” says the BTech student.
The biggest accolade has been launching an organisation, Why Waste? and receive recognition from several quarters. Gulhati was the only Indian among 60 changemakers between 18 and 23 years to receive the title of ‘Global Changemaker’. “Working towards saving water is worth being off social media and watching fewer TV shows. Neither do I party like most of those my age would,” she says.
About the partnership, Rahul Singh, president, NRAI, said, “Ninety seven million people in India do not have access to clean drinking water. As a part of the #GlassHalfFull initiative, NRAI will encourage restaurants to adopt sustainable alternatives for reducing consumption of water. We will not only sensitise the restaurant staff but customers as well to reduce wastage of water.”