From the Garbage to the Garden: Home Composting

Now that all the festivals are behind us, the shopping sprees are over and we have unboxed all the goodies we didn’t even know we needed, maybe we can sit back and take a critical look at all the waste we have generated. Overconsumption is the mother of all environmental problems, some wise person has said. Added to that, the consumers’ callous attitude towards waste disposal only compounds the problem.

Among the five metros Hyderabad enjoys the dubious reputation of highest generator of garbage daily. The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad generate 5000 metric tonnes of solid waste daily, according to a GHMC survey. This is on the higher side compared to other cities like Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkota. All this garbage is carried to the Jawahar Nagar dump yard, a landfill on a 300 acre site located 60 kms from the city. Bursting at the seams with mounds of solid waste that is smouldering and rotting, the landfill has recently been capped with soil to reduce the air pollution in the region. Leachate from the landfill has already polluted waters in three lakes in the vicinity.

Why Waste Segregation: Separating dry waste and wet waste is important because when organic, biodegradable waste is mixed up with other non-organic, recyclable waste like glass, paper and plastic ; it breaks down to release methane which is a lot worse for the environment than CO2. Methane (CH4) is a massive contributor to global warming. By composting the organic waste you are actually capturing all that carbon and turning it into a product that is hugely beneficial to the environment.

Why Composting: It is one of the simplest ways of making a big difference to the conservation of the environment. The other big reason why composting is essential is that we are losing a lot of our top soil due to the modern farming practices that are being adopted. This is a huge issue because it is only the top few inches of the soil which has all the goodness needed to grow a plant and the food that we eat. The mass farming that takes place degrades the quality of the top soil making it hard to grow food.  We add chemical fertilisers to the soil and worsen the situation.

Home composting serves many purposes:

  • It prevents build-up of waste and helps recover nutrients from food scraps for a healthy, rich, chemical free environment.
  • It reduces landfills in the city.
  • By composting the organic waste you are actually capturing all that carbon that would get converted to methane, a greenhouse gas
  • It turns waste into manure - a product that is enriches the soil and brings back soil fertility.

How to Home Compost:

Take two large earthen pots. Make pinholes at the bottom for drainage. Make holes in the side and lid of the pots as well for aeration. Place the pots on a stand or old tyre. Place a container/cup below the hole in the pot to collect leachate. Fill the pot with kitchen waste and discards on a daily basis. You can add paper shreds, wood shavings, grass clippings, plant waste. Add some dry leaves as it will help dry up the green waste from the kitchen.

If you have some sour curds simply dump it into the pot as it will hasten the decomposition and fermentation process. One large pot will get filled by a small family of four in two months’ time. When the first pot is full start feeding the second pot. Cover and leave the first pot to sleep for two months.  Once in two days you can turn/churn the scraps in the pots with a wooden stick. After two months the first pot is ready for use. The compost particles will remain the same size as the kitchen waste and can be applied directly in the garden beds. To get powdered form of compost, you can introduce earthworms in the pot.

Compost is like food for the soil. The nutrients present in the vegetable/fruit peels and food scraps are recovered and returned to the soil that has been depleted.


More by :  Sujata C

Top | Environment

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