Shreya Ramachandran

California, USA

Shreya  Ramachandran

Shreya Ramachandran is the founder of the nonprofit organization, The Grey Water Project, aimed at promoting the safe reuse of grey water and water conservation. After seeing the devastating effects of droughts first-hand in her home state of California and in her grandparents’ home in India, she became fascinated with “grey water”, the lightly used water from sinks, showers, and laundries that makes up to 60% of the used water in a home. Grey water can be reused for toilet-flushing, but also much-needed applications such as landscape irrigation potentially saving 11 trillion gallons of water per year in the US alone.

Shreya conducted research on grey water to make sure it didn’t harm soil and plant nutrients for irrigation, carrying out over 3500 hours of experimentation. She started with no supplies and no funds – instead using her parents’ bedroom, converting her bathroom into a water testing space. She has also developed a low-cost, patent-pending drought solution using greywater from soap nuts (a berry shell which releases soap in water) to irrigate crops.

When she started to present her research, Shreya was shocked to find out that many people were unaware of the basic issues and had never heard of grey water. So she founded a nonprofit to change this and promote water conservation through outreach, advocacy and policy influence and grey water curricula. By conducting workshops at schools, libraries, community and corporate events, Shreya has demystified grey water reuse and taught thousands of people how to install simple no-permit grey water systems. She has impacted more than 50,000 people worldwide and her grey water curriculum is now used by 90 schools to educate students on this important environmental issue.

The Grey Water Project is now accredited by the United Nations’ Environmental Program, meaning that Shreya also contributes to UN policy inputs. In addition, Shreya has pursued policy influence locally as Fremont City’s Youth Sustainability Commissioner and served as president of her city’s and school’s environmental clubs.

Shreya has been credited with a long list of awards and recognitions. She is a National Geographic Young Explorer, Coca-Cola scholar, recipient of the President’s Environmental Youth Award, Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, SBI’s Twenty under Twenty and the Children’s Climate Prize. For her research, she has won many awards at state, national and international science fairs including the Google Science Fair, International Science and Engineering Fair, International BioGENEius, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, Stockholm Junior Water Prize and has a minor planet in her name. She received the President's Volunteer Service Award Gold twice in 2020 and 2021.

If Shreya wins the Global Student Prize, she will use some of the funds to finance her current education at Stanford University. However, she will also invest in making her existing grey water curriculum accessible to at least 100 more schools around the world, and will fund a case study in India on using soap nut grey water in agricultural irrigation.