Jitni Pyaas, Utna Glass, a water-conservation campaign, is urging waiters to serve water only on request
Last year, in drought-affected California, USA, the state’s water resource control board implemented the rule that “customers must now ask for water to be served to them in restaurants, rather than having it brought out automatically”. Closer home, as Maharashtra battles severe drought conditions, can we replicate the same?
Prajakta Samant (40), a city-based e-learning professional answers in affirmative. On April 16, Samant started a water-conservation campaign, Jitni Pyaas, Utna Glass, on social media. On the artwork, the objective in bold typeface reads: “Tell the wait staff to pour water only when you need it”.
In a matter of three days, 23 restaurants across Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata signed up to display the creative on their tables and paste it on walls. Some of the restaurants in the city to have joined the campaign include Khyber (Fort), The Barking Deer (Lower Parel) and Doolally — The Tap Room (Bandra).
When we spotted the campaign poster at 145 Kala Ghoda, where it serves as a table tent, we approached the restaurant’s owner, Ishaan Bahl (22) to probe further. Instead, he opened up about how personal the cause of saving water was to him. “I live in Cuffe Parade, and sometimes we don’t have water supply for 10 to 12 hours a day. So, although I have not faced the adversities the farmers are facing in Marathwada, I have faced some level of inconvenience due to water shortage. It was only natural for me to advocate this idea.” But the city is not waking up to such efforts only now.
Gaurav Dabria (34), a partner at the newly opened BKC restaurant, Dishkiyaaon, recalls a similar strategy implemented by Jazz by the Bay (now Pizza by the Bay) back in 1999. He remembers the poster at the seaside restaurant that read: “We don’t serve water; we preserve nature, so ask for a bottle of water”. However, when he tried to implement the same at his own restaurant, it garnered mixed reactions. “Since it’s a new place, I personally went up to the guests to explain why we were not refilling their glasses until they asked. There were some who actually laughed at the idea. A couple didn’t believe me and just left. But there was a lady who really loved it, and it turned out that she lived in the same building and was trying out rainwater harvesting,” explains Dabria, who has also made provisions to use harvested rainwater for cleaning and use in the washrooms.
April 30 was a nightmare for Anaheeta Bafna, the owner of The Nutcracker (Kala Ghoda), after the restaurant ran out of water. Luckily, she didn’t face brickbats from the customers. “We don’t get much water from BMC here. We often buy water from tankers. But last weekend, things hit rock bottom and we completely ran out of water at around 3pm. We put up a board stating that we would serve food in take-away containers to avoid washing of utensils. Thankfully, the customers were co operative,” says Bafna. As a precautionary measure, they have started washing in batches every half an hour.
Saving water, and money
Interestingly, conserving water is also a well-thought business decision. For Tanu Narang (32), owner of The Little Door (Andheri), implementing cost-effective steps like turning on the mist fans only on request and using soap-free sanitisers to clean utensils has proved beneficial. “By using the mist fans only when needed, I am not only cutting down on the water bill, but my electricity expenses have also reduced,” she explains.
Pooja Arambhan, co-curator of MeSoHappi and The Captain’s Table, has learnt from her experience at her earlier MeSoHappi outlet on Linking Road. “We had to replenish the sponges every other week due to wear and tear. It was leading to an extra cost. So, when we started the new outlet at BKC, we decided to use kitchen towels and paper napkins instead, for wiping purposes. It works for the larger good of saving water and on the micro level, helps reduce costs,” she says. Bafna and Dabria echo a similar stance. They observe that on an average, 10 to 15 per cent of the water bill is saved monthly by curbing the water usage.
WHAT OTHER RESTAURANTS ARE DOING
Gloria Restaurant, Byculla: The restaurant collects leftover water and uses it to wash utensils. Abbas Suleiman Kadiwal, owner, claims that his eatery saves 45,000 litres of water per month.
The Fatty Bao and Monkey Bar, Bandra (W): The restaurants have kept an ice machine instead of buying ice where a lot of water melts during transport. They also serve water only on request.
Le Café and Moksha, Chembur (E), and Eat Thai Bandra (W): The restaurants have a separate bucket kept in the kitchen to collect the water that’s left behind in the glasses. This water is used for gardening.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
-Take shorter showers, stop using the bathtub. Use even lesser water by using a bucket instead of the shower.
-Turn off the tap after you wet the toothbrush or while you shave.
-Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water; not under running water.
-Check pipes and faucets thoroughly for leaks. Also, fix a dripping tap.
-Follow the drip irrigation method of watering only the stem and root of the plants and keep them in the shade. Use the waste water of rice, vegetables and fruits for it.
-The water you use to rinse vessels and utensils can be saved ans used for mopping.
-Laundry can be done once a week.
-Cars can be sponged instead of being bucket washed.
-With inputs from Pooja Arambhan, co-curator, MeSoHappi and The Captain’s Table