Observing that the air quality in Mumbai is getting worse day by day and that waste segregation is an indirect, yet efficient way of controlling it, the members of Spring Leaf society in Lokhandwala Township in Mumbai, have decided to take up this responsibility!
The campaign was spearheaded by RS Sreenivasan, Subha, and Mohammad Qureshi who went door to door asking their neighbours to segregate their waste, so that it doesn’t end up being a big homogeneous pile in the dumping grounds, and contaminate the surroundings.
Sreenivasan told the Hindustan Times, “We were irked by the deteriorating air quality due to the burning of mixed garbage and realised that it is our responsibility to protect the environment around us. We went door to door as part of this awareness campaign and requested each resident to start segregating wet and dry waste, and explained the basics of how we planned to process organic waste.
We need to move from ignoring the problem to thinking about the impact on this planet. This pushed us to go green.”
Their motivation to segregate waste was reinforced when they came across reports of two fires in Mumbai’s dumping grounds, which occurred due to non-segregated waste. High methane content in the unsegregated garbage in these grounds caused a fire to break out, resulting in air pollution and contaminated groundwater due to its liquid residue.
However, they also understood that it was important for the society to reuse this garbage to ensure it doesn’t have the same fate as mixed garbage. A lot of research went into understanding how to compost wet garbage.
“If you want to make some changes, it needs to be done with an open mind, and you have to take the initiative. Only then will it happen,” Sudha pointed out. “We did a lot of reading, research, web searches and talked to whoever was accessible, to gather information on a sustainable solution.”
Today, the society has managed to keep 90% of their waste from ending up in dumping grounds.
They segregate all of their waste and reuse them. Only biomedical and electronic waste is thrown out.
Since October 2017, the waste produced in a total of 84 flats is treated in compost drums. 60 kg of this organic waste is treated daily in three drums which were designed by the society members themselves!
Manure produced in these drums, as well as the liquid (leachate) that drips at the bottom, are reused as compost for plants in the society garden.
“When wet waste gets mixed with dry leaves and newspaper, a mixture of carbon and nitrogen aided by aeration by oxygen cooks up the mixture naturally and helps break down matter. Bacteria and other microorganisms further break it down, and the final matter which is rich in nutrients is compost,” explained Qureshi.
Around 20 kg of dry waste is produced daily in these flats, all of which is given to local recyclers by the society. All the money earned this way is given to local housekeeping staff.
Spring Leaf has thus succeeded in controlling the waste that goes out on dumping grounds and making optimum use of the resources they have in hand. You know what they say, someone’s waste is someone else’s treasure.