How Prashant Sharma turned a water crisis into an opportunity for positive action
Prashant Sharma is the founding director of Positive Action for Child and Earth Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to empower and enable society to lead a sustainable lifestyle by reducing, recycling and reusing water and other natural resources. He is also the pioneer of a novel greywater recycling system that has been implemented in several schools in Delhi and other parts of India.
What is greywater, and why is it important?
Greywater is all the non-toilet wastewater that comes from kitchens, bathrooms, handwash sinks and laundry. It accounts for about 70% of the total wastewater generated in a household or an institution. Greywater is not very dirty and can be easily treated and reused for non-potable purposes, such as flushing toilets, watering plants, cleaning floors, etc.
However, most of the time, greywater gets mixed with black water, which is the toilet wastewater that contains fecal matter and pathogens. Black water requires a lot of energy and chemicals to treat and is a major source of water pollution and carbon emissions. By separating and recycling greywater before it gets mixed with black water, we can save a lot of water, energy and money, and also reduce our environmental impact.
How did Prashant Sharma come up with the idea of greywater recycling?
Prashant Sharma’s inspiration came from a personal experience that changed his life. On June 19, 2019, Chennai faced a severe water crisis that was dubbed as “Day Zero” because the city ran out of water. Prashant Sharma was visiting his parents’ house in Chennai with his 3-year-old son. He witnessed the plight of more than one crore people who did not have access to water. He searched a lot for water but could not find it. He had to boil the tap water and give it to his son to drink. He realized how precious water is and how vulnerable we are without it.
He decided to do something about it and find a permanent solution to the water problem. He came back to Delhi and started researching on water conservation and management. He learned about the concept of greywater and its potential to solve the water crisis. He also found out that there was no affordable and effective greywater recycling system available in India.
How did Prashant Sharma develop and implement his greywater recycling system?
Prashant Sharma used his engineering skills and creativity to design and build a low-cost and low-maintenance greywater recycling system that can be easily installed and operated in schools and other institutions. He approached RPVD School of Vasant Kunj, Delhi, to execute his research and they liked his project. This was his first project and the school people appreciated his initiative. He constructed a greywater recycling system behind the school.
He dug a square-shaped pit of 18 to 24 inches and layered it with different materials. He placed stones in the first layer, clay bricks in the second layer, gravel in the third layer, sand in the fourth layer, and so on. He created seven layers in total. He connected the greywater sources, such as sinks and washbasins, to the pit.
The greywater passed through the layers and got filtered and cleaned. The treated greywater came out of a pipe and was stored in a tank. The recycled greywater could be used for various purposes, such as flushing toilets, watering plants, cleaning floors, etc.
He found that in a school where at least 4,000 to 5,000 children study, more than 15,000 liters of greywater is produced every day, which can be recycled and reused. He also calculated that by recycling greywater, the school could save up to 40% of its water bill and reduce its carbon footprint by up to 30%.
What is the impact and future of Prashant Sharma’s greywater recycling system?
Prashant Sharma’s greywater recycling system has been a success and has been replicated in several schools and institutions in Delhi and other parts of India. He has also received recognition and support from various organizations, such as Aspire Circle, Children’s Earth, and NITI Aayog. He has also been featured in various media outlets, such as The Hindu, The Times of India, and NDTV.
Prashant Sharma’s greywater recycling system is not only a technical innovation but also a social innovation. It has helped to create awareness and education among the students and the staff about the value of water and how to use it judiciously. It has also inspired them to take individual social responsibility and act collaboratively for a sustainable and circular water economy.
Prashant Sharma’s vision is to spread his greywater recycling system across India and the world and to empower and enable more people to lead a sustainable lifestyle by reducing, recycling and reusing water and other natural resources. He believes that positive action for child and earth is the need of the hour and the way forward for a better future.