COVID-19 lockdown a good time to compost your waste. Here's how to do it

Home composting can shed load off workers. About 50-70% of Indian households generate waste that is organic in nature 

By Sonia Henam
Published: Monday 27 April 2020

In the middle of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, one wonders how municipal solid waste is being managed in cities — and if there is a way an individual can contribute towards the practice.

A few things can do.

Under the ‘waste management hierarchy’, preventing waste occupies the top position. Waste is prepared for re-use, recycling, recovery and disposal. In this scenario, we can minimise the waste. Wet waste can be treated through home composting.

Moving up the waste hierarchy. Source: European Commission, 2010


Why home composting? 

The process can help reduce workload of those involved in the business. About 50-70 per cent of Indian households generate waste that is organic in nature and can be used to make compost. Or maybe as a gift it to one’s neighbour.

Source: CSE, 2017

How can you compost at home?

Composting can be done at various places — the kitchen, balcony, terrace or roof, tabletop or even sink. A wide range of products are available designed for home composting.

Some examples are ecobin, dailydump composters, tallboy bio bins, etc. These composters are designed so that they can be easily accommodated in flats, apartments and tight spaces.

These are good for a family of four-five individual. However, manufacturers have solutions for big families as well. Most of these composters are also suitable for outdoor use and can be put in the balcony, terrace or garden and are reasonably priced and user-friendly.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you could even opt for earthen pot / earthen vase as per your convenience.

This is how you go about the process:

  • Construct Your Composting Bin: Select a container. It can be a bucket, a normal earthen pot or a vase. Drill four-five holes around the container at different levels so as to let some air in. To avoid any spills place a newspaper or tray underneath your container. Layer the bottom of the container with soil.
  • Segregate your waste: Collect your organic kitchen waste and avoid whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Initiate the composting process: To maintain the dry waste and wet waste balance, add food waste and wet waste at alternate levels in the bin. For example, if you add one cup of food wastes like vegetables or fruits, add one cup of dry wastes like dry leaves, sawdust, newspaper scrap as well. To fasten the process, you can also add EM solution or add semi composted soil to your compost. After every few days, use a rake to give the pile a quick turn. This will provide enough aeration for the waste to decompose successfully.
  • Things you need to be careful of: At times, a pile can start smelling bad. Be mindful of what you put in the compost. Bury the food scraps properly. Avoid adding any bones or meat. In case the pile smells like ammonia, chances are it has an excess of green material. Add more brown materials like dried leaves to even out the foul smell. If the pile stinks like rotten eggs, it probably contains a lot of moisture and less of air. Giving the contents a turn may help fix the problem.

Finally, within two-three months when your dry, dark brown waste-turned-compost is ready, you can start using it.

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