The Environment is the Economy
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When we reached Pangong Tso in Leh, Ladakh, I screamed with all my heart—THIS IS HEAVEN ON EARTH! I wondered if heaven is already on Earth, where we all hope to end up, why are we destroying the paradise we already have? Everything we have in our world today is derived from our planet. The […]

When we reached Pangong Tso in Leh, Ladakh, I screamed with all my heart—THIS IS HEAVEN ON EARTH! I wondered if heaven is already on Earth, where we all hope to end up, why are we destroying the paradise we already have? Everything we have in our world today is derived from our planet. The environment is the economy. Every rupee, every dollar results from some part of our planet consumed to trade money. The industrial revolution became the inception of Climate Change. 

After years of building simple solutions to combat the water crisis, I learned that water was being commoditised and traded last year. Astonishingly, this life-giving resource could be controlled by a few. To change this mindset, we at Why Waste? built the ‘Why Waste App,’ which allows consumers to calculate their daily water footprint and save at least 100 litres of water daily. The app also aims to lay out ways to share excess water with those who do not have access to it—thereby reducing inequalities and empowering communities. The underlying realisation that most people don’t contribute towards protecting the planet (even if they wish to) simply because they don’t know their impact on the planet was eye-opening. Through initiatives like calculating your water footprint, we hope to help every individual make a difference. Reach out to us if you are one such individual or an organisation who wants to realise your power to change! 

The past six years of my social entrepreneurship journey exposed me to serious social injustice, and I have realised that it is because of our extractive relationship with the planet. But the counter-argument is that the livelihood of millions would get affected without economic growth. In this conflict between environmental conservation and economic development, it is crucial to consciously burgeon a middle path respectful of planetary boundaries. Thankfully, because of the unprecedented revival capacity of the planet, if we are thoughtful we can still make it happen. 

So, what is it that you can do? 

Invest your time to become a more caring citizen; as a consumer, invest in products that are much better for the planet in the long term. If a product is better for the planet in the long-term, trust me, it is better on your pockets too. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle aggressively. The other two still take up energy to produce and re-form. Cutting energy demand by using less of it is a highly effective step. In fact, for the basic needs, we must pressurise policymakers to make renewable energy and sustainable resources more readily available in our everyday lives by first choosing those options for ourselves. Similarly, being aware of what you eat, where it comes from, thinking about how you travel and having a greater interest in all these things can impact energy and resource consumption.

A simple example could be the Why Waste? App, where you can calculate your Water Footprint, i.e., your impact, and then make simple habit changes to save at least 100 litres of water every day! Impact through empowering individual action. Behavioural changes that can help reduce our impact on the planet can significantly reduce our future dependency on complex technologies that we still don’t fully understand and that are hard to scale. 

We also need to empower individuals in the remotest of regions by giving them the capability to mitigate issues in their communities. For example, providing small loans to a village household to build their own wells to gain access to water instead of women having to walk miles to obtain it can greatly empower these households to own the change and become water resilient.

Further engagement from newer financial institutions like fintech companies and neo-banks can be pivotal in introducing financial products and capabilities that can solve climate issues at the most grassroots levels through contributions from even folks like us, and not just more prominent philanthropists. 

As individuals, by choosing right, we can transform businesses into building for a better world. If our collective refusal to consume plastic straws had governments ban them and businesses re-imagine them as steel and paper straws, imagine the kind of power we hold to change all businesses today that harm the planet! Start now, do your bit and invest your time in building a better world.

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In 2015, Garvita learned that 14 million liters of water is wasted every year at restaurant tables. Moved, she started Why Waste? From struggling to be taken seriously by restaurateurs, she and her team of ‘waterpreneurs’ have reached out to over 500,000 restaurants across India, prevented over 10 million liters of water from being wasted, and impacted over 6 million lives. The idea continues to grow today with chapters in eight countries. Called the “Water Girl of India”, Garvita most recently became the youngest lister on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia-Pacific list of Social Entrepreneurs and is the first and only Indian to be awarded a Wonder Grant from the Shawn Mendes Foundation. She is an expert mentor at Global Citizen Year and works with UNICEF on their Youth climate strategy. Garvita is an engineering graduate and is also a professional classical dancer and calligraphy artist.
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