Heroine of the Week: Shreya Ramachandran

Photo: Shreya Ramachandran, via Discover Magazine

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Today we’re celebrating Shreya Ramachandran, a 17-year-old Californian who came up with an efficient way to reuse grey water — the water first used for sinks, showers, and laundry machines — for irrigation. She was spurred to take action after living through a water crisis as a preteen. When her grandmother brought soap nuts, the dried brown shell of the soapberry, from their native India, Ramachandran started thinking about how they could be part of the solution.  

“I was using them as a shampoo, and I was thinking, ‘Okay, if they can be used for this purpose, maybe soap nuts can be used as an alternative laundry detergent as well. And then we can reuse the water because soap nuts are all natural,’”she told Discover Magazine

Ramachandran took over her parents’ bedroom to experiment, proving that plants could grow healthfully using water from the soapberry wash cycles but not with conventional detergent water. She’s since founded her own nonprofit, The Grey Water Project, which educates people about reusing water and developed a science curriculum on the topic that more than 90 schools teach. Her next step? A degree in environmental science and public policy so that her research can turn into solutions that get implemented. 

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