Home Waste Composting


A few weeks ago I had written a post about Pre-cycling. In this post I will expand on New Bloom’s project on it. As I had mentioned earlier, this project was first started by Mrs. Poonam Bir Kasturi’s Daily Dump in Bangalore and we took the idea from them to promote it in Delhi. The idea of the project is to get the people living in cities to start composting their daily waste.

As I had said in the previous post, solid waste management is an important environment issue. Our landfills are filled up to the brim and if you go visit any site, the garbage is in huge mounds, instead of being below the ground level. Moreover, as our population grows, so will the garbage. But people need land to live…..where will the garbage go? Each day countless trees are being cut to make way for the exponentially growing human population. This is effecting the ecological balance and the bio-diversity of the area. Yes, we have many projects in which we are planting trees but isn’t precaution better than cure?

Compost and Composting


Fresh compost after sieving

Compost is a dark coloured, nutrient rich powder formed after the decomposition of organic matter. It has the smell of freshly dug earth or like the smell of rain on soil. Composting is the process of mixing together the various organic matter, catalysts, water etc in right amounts, to form humus. The nutrient richness of compost depends on the different types of organic matter that will be used.

Why Do It

Most of our household or kitchen waste is composed of biodegradable organic matter. When we throw the waste out, the municipal corporation has the problem of segregating it into compost-able, recyclable and hazardous waste. Now each day from Delhi alone generates more than 10,000 tonnes of waste. Segregating this much amount takes time and needs a lot of man power. Most of the times, the waste is dumped as it is in the land fill sites. Due to this, there is a big problem of water table and soil in that area getting contaminated. Most of the dump sites are ill maintained.

Land is not something which we have in excess. Pre-cycling the waste or composting the waste at home and recycling of reusable plastic waste ensures that we throw out less. This will save the city, time and money wasted on waste segregation. The land that was earlier reserved as landfill can be utilized to build public utility items like water treatment plant or hospitals or schools or gardens etc

Moreover the compost helps improve the landscape and the soil quality. Composting alone helps reduce the waste by 80% As responsible citizens we can do our bit for the environment.

Methods of Composting

Different Methods of composting are there. According to the chemical reactions involved, they are classified as Anaerobic, Aerobic and Vermi-

Stage 1: Fresh and a day old waste

compost.

Anaerobic decomposition takes place in the absence of oxygen, The major by-products of the reaction are Methane, Hydrogen Sulphide, Cadavarite, Leachate, Energy and other minor gases. Though an age-old method and the methane gas produced is a very good fuel, it has a few problems for use in urban cities. The smell of gases like Hydrogen Sulphide, Cadavarite etc is not something anyone would enjoy. It takes more time, there is the problem of rats, the anaerobic bacteria are not very friendly with plants, and the Methane gas is 8 times more greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide. Plus with CNG and LPG; Methane as a fuel may not be a popular option with city dwellers.

Aerobic decomposition takes place in the presence of oxygen. The byproducts include Carbon Dioxide, Water, Leachate and Energy. The leachate of aerobic decomposition is very rich and can be diluted and also used as an organic fertilizer along with the

Stage 2: 10 to 15 day old heap.

compost. The aerobic bacteria are friendlier with plants compared to their anaerobic cousins. Smell is not a problem as those gases are not produced. And it is comparatively a faster process.

Almost near the end stage. This will be sieved in another 10 days.

Vermi-composting is composting with the help of earthworms and maggots. It is one of the best process. The worms keep the heap aerated therefore preventing any smell. The time taken in this method is usually half the time taken in aerobic composting. The drawbacks in it are that not many people are willing to work with worms. If they are then it require care i.e. the temperature and moisture should be suitable for the worms else they will die. Another drawback is that the worms don’t eat fresh waste. They eat partially decomposed waste.

So technically the best composting process will be a combination of aerobic and vermi-composting.

Kambha

This is our flagship product in household waste pre-cycling. It is a 3 layered terracotta pot as seen in the picture. The principle behind it is aerobic decomposition. And due to the three layers, the process of composting is also accelerated.

Kambha - Medium Sized version. Different painting options available.

The top two pots are interchangeable and have a nylon mesh for a base. The bottom one remains fixed and has a solid base. The kitchen waste is added in the first one till it is nearly filled. Then it is interchanged with the second one. Now the second one is filled till the same level. Before again interchanging the two pots, the ingredients in the first one are emptied into the third chamber.

In between from time to time we have to stir the heap to ensure that there isn’t any excess moisture, and to keep it aerated. Dry leaves, saw dust and/or shredded news paper can be added to reduce moisture content in case of a wet pile. Bio-accelerator, Neem Powder, Lemon Grass Spray are used to accelerate the process or keep the heap insect free and smell free.

After about 2 months(depending upon the climate), or when the bottom pot is filled, use a sieve to sieve out the compost. If there are maggots in the Kambha then it is even better as they help reduce the population of fruit flies and further accelerate the process.

Other products for large-scale or small level composting are also available.

The Kambha doesn’t require much space and can be used even in apartments.

Support

Recently due to the efforts of Dr, Deshpande (one of the Daily Dump clone based in Gurgaon), this product has been included in the National School Sanitation Initiative which is a collaboration between India and Germany and comes under CBSE, GTZ(German Technical Co-operation) and the Ministries of Urban Development and Human Resource Development.

The seminar was held this year in April at Vigyan Bhavan. The Kambha was unveiled on the main stage to mark the launch of the biodynamic waste segregation program and Mr. Amir Khan was named the brand ambassador of the National School Sanitation Initiative Development. Many schools in Delhi are now teaching the students composting and Kambha is seen as a cheap, clean and easy to use option even in a small household.

Recently the product has been in a lot of newspapers and is growing at a very healthy rate.

How To Get Started

As I have said it is a cheap, easy and something that will increase your green points. Buy the Kambha or any other depending on your need and availability. Accessories if you require them. And start composting. Remember that before you decide to buy it, you will have to first start segregating your waste. Two baskets. One for the biodegradable waste and one for the other waste. A better option would be to segregate into three parts i.e. Bio-degradeable, Recyclable/Reusable and Hazardous.

Once done, you can start adding the biodegradable waste in the Kambha and in a couple of months harvest the fruits of your labour in the form of compost.

Where To Buy

There are many clones in the major cities like Delhi(which includes me besides another clone in the eastern part of the city), Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Goa, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Chikmagaluru, Coimbatore, Kochi, Channapatna. It is even been used internationally with clones in Florida USA, Chile and Brazil.

The post is open to any queries.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Home Waste Composting”
  1. arpana says:

    A pragmatic way to deal with garbage.

  2. umapoems says:

    Very informative Blog!
    Loved your post!

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  3. thecouple says:

    Appreciate your efforts for protecting our environment.

    We were thinking of doing composting, but it never transformed into action. This post should do the trick.

    Can you suggest a shop in Mumbai to buy the Kambha or its clones?

  4. hemanth says:

    I want to set up composting at my place. I am from hyderabad. where can i get the Khamba. Can you provide more details to my email address.

  5. Rachna says:

    We do limited composting at home. I have prepared a few batches by using kitchen waster, brown and green matter like leaves, hay etc. and some mud. It actually is a very easy process. Good informative post! And I quite admire Poonam’s efforts.

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