I’m sure many of us never think of waste and rewards in the same breath :). When something is useless in our eyes, it just goes into the waste bin and then who cares what happens next. Well, I did start caring at some point and it was one of the most enlightening journeys of my life, in fact I credit it to be the beginning of my gardening journey as well!
Once I started consciously thinking about the amount of waste generated by my household, it has never been a question of “Why we should manage our waste” but always of “How we should do it”. When I realized a few years back that the amount of waste we generate is only adding to landfills, I slowly started trying to reduce the use of plastic. It is definitely a challenge, and even on refusing bags at the supermarkets and carrying around cloth bags you are left with a lot of plastic or dry waste.
In any case, I feel a bit better by segregating every bit of plastic that comes through my house, from the smallest snippet of toffee wrapper to larger plastic bags used for packing groceries. Any items like milk packets get cleaned and dried before getting added to the dry waste bin. This then gets packed up and delivered to any organization that recycles it; I usually give it to Samarthanam as they are close to where I stay.
Now what remains is the kitchen waste that is mainly the peels of vegetables, egg shells and other such items. When I was looking for solutions to manage my wet waste a few years back, the one that stood out the most is the Kambha from Daily Dump, and it is still one of the popular options available that can be used in spaces like balconies as well. It is a 3-tier arrangement that you can use to aerobically compost your kitchen waste, and requires some amount of mixing every 3-4 days for best results. It requires you to put in a nearly equal amount of brown matter like dry leaves, sawdust or cocopeat to maintain the moisture levels of the mixture. This is one of my oldest installations and still has a place on my terrace.
Next I tried my hand at vermicomposting, thanks to amazing examples like Vani Murthy, who demonstrated that any arrangement could be successful if you just put in that little bit of effort towards it. She was my main source of do/don’t information for this method and I probably learnt more about the likes and dislikes of those little wormies than I knew about my kids appetites ;). Avoiding pungent items like onion peels, citrus fruits and even tomatoes seemed to work well and the worms did their work giving me lots of vermicompost or black gold as it is now referred to in our Organic Terrace Garden group discussions. This method can be done in any container that has enough aeration for the worms, but I used a Sintex bin that was specifically made for this requirement. It seems the bin is no longer in supply, and I found that trying too many types of composting at the same time was not working out for me, so I have passed on the bin to a friend who wanted to start out on this method.
The reason I gave up on my worms, and decided to stick to what seems easiest is a recent discovery – the Greentech life Smartbin or Indoor Composter. This one got rave reviews from folks who had used it before me, including my composting Guru Vani and the convenience of keeping it indoors made me want to try it out. Yes, I can be lazy to even walk up to my terrace an extra time sometimes. This one works on the anaerobic principle, so there’s no mixing involved. You instead have to push down the waste well to eliminate air particles and use the given Bio-bloom powder to help the pickling or composting process. In the 2nd stage, it needs to be mixed with an equal quantity of ready compost and left for a month or so, to make it all into lovely sweet smelling compost at the end of it.
Phew! I can keep going on and on about composting, it really is a topic close to my heart ! If you’ve read this far, I do hope you will be trying out one of the above methods soon!