Shreya Barron

A young Indian American girl, Shreya Ramachandran, 14, was among the winners of the Barron Prize. She is the founder of The Grey Water Project. (barronprize.org photo)

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes Sept. 17 announced the winners of this year’s award, with youngster Shreya Ramachandran among those honored.

Ramachandran, 14, of California, is the founder of The Grey Water Project, which resulted in her being named an award winner.

The young Indian American teenager founded The Grey Water Project, a non-profit that promotes the safe reuse of grey water and water conservation, as a way to address drought.

She works tirelessly to educate others about grey water – the gently used water from household sinks, showers, and laundry – and to remove the stigma that it is unclean and unusable, the Barron Prize said.

She has learned the California Plumbing Code and conducts seminars to show others how easy it is to build “laundry to lawn” grey water systems using organic detergents such as soap nuts. Soap nuts are a natural berry shell that release soap when placed in water. They are cost effective as a laundry detergent and are readily available around the world, it added.

Ramachandran began her work with painstaking research on the environmental safety of soap nut grey water, concluding after three years that it doesn’t harm soil, plants, or aquatic life. She is now collaborating with several California water agencies to promote grey water reuse, the organization said.

She has earned numerous awards for her work, including the President’s Environmental Youth Award, and was invited to partner with the United Nations’ Global Wastewater Initiative, it added.

She is currently developing a grey water curriculum for elementary students to teach water conservation and the idea that small actions can make a huge difference.

“I’ve learned that even though I am young, I can make a positive impact in my community,” said the teen. “If I want to change something, I have to go out and make that difference instead of waiting for someone to do it for me.”

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, established in 2001, celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.

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