Turning the Cultural Tide on Grey Water

Shreya Ramachandran, the 20-year-old founder of The Grey Water Project, draws on her background in advocating for water reuse

  • By Delaney McPherson
  • Conservation
  • Mar 28, 2024

AS A NATIVE CALIFORNIAN, 20-year-old Shreya Ramachandran (above) is no stranger to drought. After witnessing fresh water being trucked into communities in both her home state and India, where she has family, Ramachandran began looking into ways to safely utilize grey water (also frequently spelled “gray” water): domestic and commercial wastewater from sinks, showers and laundry machines.

In 2016, when she was only 13, she formed the nonprofit The Grey Water Project, dedicated to educating people on healthy and safe ways to reuse water. “Seeing the similarities in water scarcity across the world catalyzed me to take action,” she says.

From there, Ramachandran spent four years conducting scientific research on grey water, which she is currently working to publish. And she created the website thegreywaterproject.org to help the public learn more about grey water, schedule hands-on workshops and access K-12 curriculum she designed. So far, the curriculum has been adopted by 90 schools, and the project has reached more than 50,000 people, she says.

Today Ramachandran is studying human biology, climate and health at Stanford University while running the nonprofit. She serves as her city’s youth sustainability commissioner, and in 2022 she spoke at the United Nations’ Stockholm+50 conference in Sweden. “I believe in intergenerational climate action,” she says. “I want to see students take action. We’re the ones that will be living with the brunt of these problems.”

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