Being in the outdoors I find it hard to ignore the garbage issues plaguing all around. So what’s the simple solution to this mammoth problem? Composting – that’s the answer. At MNCs, Restaurants and Homes. I took up a 30 Day Compost Challenge in my home in Bombay. Here’s a week by week low down of my 30 Day Compost Challenge. I witnessed glimpses of the forest system right in my city home. Read on to know more.
Day 1- Day 10
What is a Composter?
We installed a 3 tier terracotta composter for a family of 4. Christopher Pereira from The Dirt Store helped procure it for me and come over to install it and orient me about using it.
There are three layers to it, out of which you use the first two layers. Each of these layers has a filter at the bottom, forming a base for the compost to rest. There is a mesh like net below it for the moisture to seep out and the bucket has holes pierced throughout for air to circulate.
When do you use it?
In a composter, every morning when you chuck wet kitchen waste, add a layer of dry organic matter i.e saw dust, dry leaves, compost soil/ sand or shredded paper. Within a week, (when you steer it over the weekend), you will see all the kitchen waste will have turned black (the beginnings of the famous black gold)
How does it work?
You know how when we are stuck in a car, in traffic with all the combustion around us, we are all too familiar with that stuffy, sweaty and congested feeling. But when suddenly, we get a sudden whiff of air from somewhere, it feels much refreshing doesn’t it? That to sum up is what makes the composter work – air.
The holes in the composter and the air circulating between the dry organic matter lets the wet waste breathe. This gives birth to aerobic microbes which begin eating into the waste and convert it into compost. When I followed this system, right up to day 24(by which time I already had my first batch of compost), the only smell I got was that of the sweet smell of earth on the first day of the monsoons. Now that’s a smell I know and love! But you have to follow the system i.e one part wet waste and one part dry waste, else there will be not so pleasant consequences (I learnt my lesson on Day27)
Day 1 to Day 10 was about testing and introducing everyone at home to the composter. My family humoured me by letting me take up this challenge. But in the first 10 days there were a lot of issues trying to get everyone to adjust to the change – that was the biggest challenge.
First things first, the dustbins were kept away. Everyone kept away from it initially. All my invitations to come and check it out were politely ignored. Then gradually (one by one, individually cajoling my sister, mother, father in ways I know would intrigue each) Everyone was individually explained about what garbage goes where. Morning kitchen waste was to be put directly into the composter by whoever cooked that day. The dust collected from the daily sweeping too. Earlier everyone was used to just two segments- wet/organic and dry/non degradable. I made a further detailed segregation system now with four containers:
1 for Plastic: milk bags, grain/ aata bags, etc.
2 for Aluminium: Quaker oats, snack packets that come in aluminium packets, etc.
3 for Scrap paper: paper towels, medicine bills, etc.
4 the Composter: fruit, vegetable peels, seeds, left overs, etc. Ours is a vegetarian family so in a case of meat eaters, this includes the wet waste there too i.e meat, blood, bones, etc.
Minor dilemmas of what was wet and what was dry kept cropping up. Are corn peels wet or dry? Is the coconut shell wet? And what about hair and nails? What about wet kitchen tissue paper? All of the above being wet waste as they all are organic and decompose easily except coconut shell. But it is okay to leave that in the compost too.