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Meet the woman transforming water conservation in Bengaluru with simple, sustainable practices

Odette held a mug full of bioenzyme she made from fruit and vegetable peels and wasted RO water.

Odette held a mug full of bioenzyme she made from fruit and vegetable peels and wasted RO water.

BENGALURU: Long before water scarcity hit the headlines, Odette Katrak, an environment and sustainability changemaker and co-founder of Beautiful Bharat, has taken extreme measures to conserve water… from taking a bath with just three mugs water to watering more than 350 mugs. plants without fresh water since 2009. Her bathing practice is the butt of jokes among her friends, who tease her about the autocorrect that turns “Odette” into “Odour.”

With her unique ways, she has inspired many, including Anand Raaj – the man behind Eat Raja, a zero-waste juice bar in Malleswaram in Bengaluru. He now uses the motto ‘use less, reuse more’ in his company.

Raaj said, “If we have 100 to 150 customers visiting, on an average we need about 30 liters of water to thoroughly wash 250ml glasses. However, the target audience is more than 500 daily. At Eat Raja, we serve juice in fruit bowls that are consumed frequently. However, when it is thrown away, we use them to prepare manure. Moreover, even for cleaning plates and floors in the store, only RO wastewater is used.”

Growing up in a joint family in Chennai, amid water scarcity, Odette realized the severity of the crisis from an early age as each member received only a limited amount of water. But it wasn’t until she came across a presentation titled “A Letter to 2070” that her conservation efforts took a more urgent and serious turn.

The letter, written by a father to his son, portrayed a world without water in the most terrible and serious terms imaginable. It depicted a dystopian scenario where people had to shave and had no choice but to apply oil to their bodies due to the scarcity of water. The grim portrayal had a profound impact on Odette and forced her to intensify her efforts to conserve water.

Recalling her early experiences in Bellandur after moving to Bengaluru, she said she saw women fetching water. Among them was a mother carrying her child, who also held an empty bucket. “That got me thinking: Would we appreciate the value of water if we had to carry it and pay for it?”

She said: ‘Even with a lot of water flowing from my taps, I have realized that it is crucial to save water because it is a shared resource. This realization has pushed me to not only save water in my own home, but also to, among other things, create awareness that just because we pay for water tankers does not justify waste.”

She has created a unique framework she calls ‘Ecowaternomics’ to make it easy to save water using a water-based hierarchy.

To explain this, she often asks the question: “Would you bathe with mineral water?” She emphasizes that we wouldn’t use higher purity water for bathing, but still often use fresh tap water for tasks like washing mops or rinsing dirty dishes, although lower purity water would suffice just as well.

According to her calculations, the majority of households only need fresh water for 30 to 40 percent of their needs. The rest of their water needs can be met by reusing water even if it is cloudy, soapy or muddy from secondary hidden sources such as water from hand washing, pulses, fruits and vegetables, wastewater from RO, water from defrost and the exhaust of the washing machine. water. “Water going down the drain can always serve another purpose,” she advises.

Why wait until a water crisis breaks out, she wonders. Conserving water should not be limited to Bengalureans and only for summers, but it is a habit that everyone could adopt throughout the year, she points out.

Through her social media handles @odettekatrak and @beautifulbharatorg, she consistently creates content to spread awareness about simple ways to save water. Her upcoming project focuses on creating small clips aimed at teaching domestic workers about water conservation.