Water conservation is very close to my heart. Growing up in Chennai, I have seen conditions of extreme water scarcity. Some of my early memories include standing in a line in our street with large pots, waiting to fill water from the corporation water lorry. These were hard times – the water lorry would come only once in 2 days, and have a fixed amount of water. Water was rationed for every house, and we would get just 2 – 3 pots of water on a bad day.
2003 was another period of water scarcity in Chennai. The apartment I lived in rationed our fresh, flowing water to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, which I used to scramble to collect in large drums.
Faced with drought every summer, the government made rain water harvesting mandatory for all buildings in Chennai in the late 90’s. This simple measure certainly has helped ease the water supply nightmares in the last few years.
Fresh Water Footprint
Along with measuring our carbon footprint as a company and as individuals, we are also evolving the concept of fresh water footprint.
At Krya, we seek to minimise our ‘fresh water footprint’ by creating products that use water responsibly, like our detergent. We also track our ‘fresh water footprint’ down the line to reduce the use of fresh water in the creation of our products.
One of our principles at Krya is to make only powder or solid formulations – we do not make any liquid products. This cuts down our fresh water footprint substantially, and as all good eco measures, also helps save fossil fuel, packaging material, and keeps the air around our manufacturing facility cleaner.
We source our fruit that’s a detergent from a responsible polycuture farm. Through careful water conservation methods, and the principles of Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution, Mr.Anki Reddy, our farmer has extensively recharged the ground water in the farm. What once was an arid wasteland is now a self sufficient farm that generates enough water for 1000 acres of cultivation.
We have also designed our detergent to work better in frugal water conditions. The fruit that’s a detergent is a low foam detergent. This makes it easier to rinse than a regular detergent, and it needs much less water during rinsing.
We also work on minimising our fresh water footprint at home. This helps in two ways:
- It reduces our fresh water consumption as a family.
- It reduces our load on the city’s drainage system
These are some of the measures we undertake in our home.
- Minimising our kitchen’s fresh water footprint
All the water we use in the kitchen (washing vegetables, rice, pressure cooker water), goes to watering our plants. We have measured that every meal we cook, generates around 5 litres of nutrient rich used water, which we reuse to water our plants. As a bonus, this water is especially good for the plants.
2.Minimising our laundry’s fresh water footprint
We recharge the groundwater with all our laundry water for every wash. Our machine uses atleast a 100 litres of water per wash, and all of that goes directly into the ground to help replenish the ground water table. We Of course, use the Krya detergent which is ideally suited for this purpose. But in case you use a regular synthetic detergent, there are specific plants that can filter your laundry water and make it safe to be discharged into the ground.
However we recently moved out of a ground floor house to a new flat and we have not been unable to do this. I console myself by reminding myself that even though I cannot recycle this water, atleast the water I’m putting into the city’s drainage system is non-toxic and will not harm aquatic life.
3. Minimising our garden’s water footprint
We mulch our plants and water them in the evening, both strategies to minimize top soil water evaporation.
The principle of mulching has been wonderfully explained in Fukuoka’s ‘One straw revolution’. Plants lose top soil moisture when the top soil is left exposed to the sun. Natural forests always have leaves and other organic matter strewn on the floor. This helps the top soil retain moisture and protects it from excess water evaporation. We follow this principle by mulching all our potted plants.
We use the residue generated by our detergent to mulch the plants. Our detergent is a fruit which does not dissolve completely after a wash, and leaves behind fruit fibres that are excellent to compost or use as mulch. We cover the soil surface in all our pots with these leftover fruit fibres. This helps retain moisture for our plants and also, reduces the amount of water they would need.
We also water our plants in the evening, because they lose less water due to evaporation – also watering in the evening is better for plants as root systems grow in the night, so you give them a feed just when they need it.
4.Minimising the footprint of the fresh water we consume
We consume as little bottled water as possible and rely on a water filter. We still end up buying water during unscheduled trips, but we have been trying to minimize that by asking for filtered tap water in restaurants. Movie theatres continue to stump us: as a part of another exciting venture we work on, we watch a lot of films. Theatres in Chennai do not allow us to carry our water inside. We have to figure this one as we are going to watch a lot of movies.
Food / Water for thought:
- Almost a billion people worldwide lack access to clean safe water.
- A fifth of the world’s population live in water scarce areas.
- We can survive for a month without food, but only a week without water.
- India has 16% of the world’s population – but only 4% of the world’s fresh water sources.
- The per capita fresh water availability in India has dropped from 5177 cubic metres in 1951 to 1820 cubic metres in 2001.
- Delhi Development Authority has projected a demand of 1100 million gallons per day of water in 2011 – their supply is 880 million gallons per day
- The Yamuna in Delhi has no water to meet even the current demand
- Because of the fast depletion of water bodies, India is now extremely dependent on groundwater, especially for agriculture. Groundwater exploitation has already reached unsustainable levels in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and is fast reaching these levels in Tamilnadu, Gujarat, and U.P.
- 90% of India’s rural water supply is from groundwater, which is reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation.
- Naina Lal Kidwai has decided to crusade on behalf of water conservation. She will be heading a committee on water to help sensitise corporate India on water conservation, and help them reduce their water footprint.