No I am not a treehugger, so my reaction to my own determination was “uhh…are you sure?”. The rot, slime and stink, am I ready for it? I live in one of the suburbs of Mumbai where the BMC garbage trucks show up just once in a while. The swollen black trash bags on char-rastas and foothpaths have become part of our streets. Crows pick on them and leave behind the spewing leftovers. If you look at it technically one can figure out the character of the household by the garbage it throws. Tetrapacks, cereal boxes, imported fruits lay lavishly around the tree trunks, as if its some kind of offering.
Where my parents live in Kerala there no garbage trucks at all. They compost all their kitchen waste for their garden. No I am not saying they are great. If you happen to live in a house that has a backyard, chances are that you would also do it. That doesn’t mean their streets are ultra clean. Non-biodegradable waste for lack of any alternatives get burnt or is thrown at street corners. The tattered plastic bags hover on the roads. The real problem of waste in our cities is lack of segregation. Almost 65% of waste from households are biodegradable. So my intention was to fix this 2/3rds of waste that comes from my household.
So I started googling and Youtubing. As I was sifting through the countless how-to videos and pictures it seemed to me that it would not be that difficult. With few pictures on my smart phone, I straight went to Khumbarwada, Sion the hub of pot-making, to make a prototype of a composter. I deduced that terracotta is the best material for this purpose. It retains some bit of heat necessary for decomposition but doesn’t get too hot. I found a lady, Jayaben who makes pots of 25 ltrs capacity and quickly ordered three. Jayaben was forthcoming so asked her if she was willing to make some changes for my purpose. Before baking them, I asked her to drill holes on the sides for aeration. When I demanded few holes on the bottom, she looked at me suspiciously and guess thats when she raised her price. I don’t think she understood my purpose. But I was least bothered about that and the price, my fear was I quitting in the middle.
I got three pots and decided to put them one above the other. Strategically I put them on the terrace of our apartment, away from people’s eyes and their questions.
Then I started and have not stopped since the past three months. All bio-degradable wastes from our kitchen religiously go through me. Everyone in the house know that my watchful eyes guard the trash can. Plastic is forbidden and even the smallest of the green stub need to go in the can. Here are a few pictures of the stuff…
This is the fresh left overs from kitchen
This is after few days….when they slowly lose water
This is after a week’s time when they reduce to its 50% volume. Few visitors like bugs and insects come to visit the mix. But be assured they are not here to stay they just help in the process of decomposition. Once I put remains of watermelon and the mix became slimy and started stinking. Quickly, I googled for remedy and put dry leaves and some soil over it.
This is how it looks after 5 weeks. Completely decomposed, brown-black in color and precisely smells like fresh earth. Voila!
My next task is to get few pots and plant veggies in them. Lets see if I have patience for that.
I still have Jayaben’s number. Let me know if you feel like giving it a try, I would be more than happy to help.