“It just takes one person to change their behavior and be an example to others” - Interview with winner Shreya Ramachandran
The Grey Water Project was founded by Shreya Ramachandran in 2016 and in 2019 she was the winner of the Children’s Climate Prize. Her work has recently been recognized in a documentary “The Power of Us: Confronting the Climate Crisis” and was also featured in the book "Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth", which was released in April 2021. We conducted an interview with Shreya, who is currently an incoming freshman at Stanford University, to see how the project has developed since the win and what the future holds past the pandemic.
– Water scarcity continues to be one of the world's most important issues of our time. As a young talented entrepreneur in this field how has the pandemic affected your work?
Shreya: The pandemic really took a lot of people's minds off the climate crisis. How could you be thinking about the climate when lives are at immediate risk due to a health crisis? There was disruption in my personal life and the lives of my family members. That, coupled with the fact that I could no longer do in-person workshops or go to speak at schools, made it much more difficult for me to do my work. However, there has been a silver lining. I’ve been able to reach people in the far corners of the globe that I would not have been able to otherwise and I’m developing new programs. The past year with the COVID-19 crisis was not easy, but it’s been a time of growth.
– What are you looking forward to seeing happening in the subject of water and the environment moving forward now?
Shreya: I started my nonprofit at the peak of California’s historic drought four years ago, and now the western United States is heading towards another major one. Droughts are already affecting millions of people each year, and these situations will only get worse with climate change, which will cause more extreme weather patterns: a cycle between drought and flooding.
Climate and water are irrevocably intertwined and well-managed water systems are crucial to reaching sustainable development goals. I hope to see more climate resiliency measures place water sustainability at the heart of their policy and take into account changing water resources. This also includes reducing water use in places where you might not expect it. There’s a hidden cost of water in the products we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use and more, so being aware of this and working towards reducing water use on an individual level as well as in industry, is crucial.
Looking to the future, the solution requires all of us. It just takes one person to change their behavior and be an example to others . It's the small actions that people take that create ripples and turn into the massive waves of change that I aim to create.
I’m optimistic for the future because we already have solutions to the global water crisis that are scalable and can be implemented now! Grey water reuse, as just one example, is not limited to any geographic region. If you use water, then you have grey water that can be reused. I’m looking forward to seeing more people implement grey water reuse systems in their homes, and having it become a standard part of industrial and commercial constructions as well.
About The Grey Water Project
The Grey Water Project is a nonprofit aimed at promoting the safe reuse of grey water and water conservation, through outreach, advocacy, policy changes and grey water curricula. In 2019 Shreya Ramachandran received the Children’s Climate Prize for her work with The Grey Water Project. Learn more about Shreya Ramachandran's Grey Water Project here and take up the Water Challenge to build lifelong water habits and reduce your carbon foot print.