Garvita: Why Waste? Learning to See the Glass as Half Full

Garvita Gulhati is helping students in her high school see that age is not a limit to solving problems you care about. At 15 years old, she and her friend, Pooja S. Tanawade, did just that. They started “Why Waste?,” an organization educating citizens about creative ways to reduce water waste — starting with restaurants where four million gallons of water are wasted per year in India.

“Good” restaurants had waitstaff filling water glasses whether customers wanted it or not resulting in a cumulatively huge water waste. So Garvita and Pooja started a campaign to educate customers about how not to waste and taught restaurant staff to fill glasses only half full.

Although they faced some resistance from restaurant staff, Garvita never felt her age to be a limitation. Quite the opposite: “The best ideas come from people like us, people of our age,” says Garvita. “We have fresh, growing and innovating minds.”

This experience of leading young inspired Garvita to help other young people see that they can also step up. “You can’t just expect things to happen, if you want to see something change, you need to get up and go take charge.”

Garvita takes stories about young changemakers from Ashoka’s LeadYoung campaign and invites different students each week to present and discuss them at her school’s morning assemblies. She has had success spreading this LeadYoung model to 20 other schools in Bangalore and is now spreading it to other parts of India.

The result? Dozens of her peers are more eager to understand problems they see around them and find ways to take action. To Garvita, the world needs all of us—especially young people—to lead positive change. “They say that change is the only constant,” says Garvita, “But I think now this world is in constant need of changemakers.”