Any housing complex is like an organism. There is an intake of energy, consumption of energy, and of course, like any other organism, waste generation.
Matoshree Pearl in Mahim, Mumbai, is one such high-rise housing society with 22 floors and 65 apartments. And the waste it generates is so efficiently managed that it is turned into organic fruits and vegetables by the residents.
In three months, Matoshree Pearl has gone from an ordinary housing society to an entirely green housing society, with a self-sustaining waste management programme which recycles kitchen waste into organic compost.
“The change wasn’t easy,” says Satish Kini a member of the managing committee of the housing society who has driven this project. Talking to The Better India, he recalls that the steps taken were very small, but in retrospective, they made all the difference.
“I remember at first wanting to change the tube lights and CFL lightings in the building to LEDs to conserve energy. This project was given the go-ahead by society members of the building at their AGM held in August of 2016,” says Satish Kini, recalling how the green movement in the apartment started.
Since that change came about, it has been saving the housing society Rs 40,000 per month in electricity bills.
But Satish Kini didn’t want to stop there. He observed that the waste generated by the society was a constant source of friction between the society’s housekeeping staff and local corporations workers
He wanted the society to be less dependent on the local municipal corporation –BMC to manage waste as they anyway ended up dumping them in overflowing landfills around Mumbai.
So with the active support of Managing Committee and RUR Green Life ,a social environment enterprise they launched the Go Green Campaign on Swachhta Divas, Oct 2, 2017, where their objective was to convert wet kitchen waste into compost and recycle as much dry waste as possible.
“From our terrace, we could see below us, a neighbouring apartment complex with a lush green terrace garden, and I wanted to change our apartment into that,” recalls Satish.
But bringing the change wasn’t so easy. “We had to get a buy-in from all our society members about the Go Green campaign and how they needed to segregate waste. It took some time and lot of effort to perfect the system,” shares Satish.
And the wet waste generated, had to be composted. That’s where RUR GreenLife Organisation played a crucial role.
“We reached to RUR to teach us about wet-waste composting and what’d you know, the apartment that we saw as an example had the organisation’s CEO – Ms Monisha Narke,” narrates Satish.
RUR GreenLife, a social environment organisation, founded in 2009, designs, builds and develops sustainable and decentralised waste management solutions. RUR’s team of experts, Monisha Narke, Neha Mundra and Dr Aparna Pandey conducted several eco-workshops and educated over 100 residents of the building on segregation at source.
Talking to The Better India, Monisha Narke, CEO, RUR GreenLife, says “The idea was to motivate all residents to come together as a community for a cause. Through the interactive hands-on workshops, we inspired them to make a change showing the current waste impact and carbon footprint on the planet.”
Their project ‘Green Gold Bio Composters’ was shortlisted in the Top 3 nominations under the category of Solid Waste Management at the third Smart Cities India Awards 2017.
RURs GreenGold Aerobic BioComposter is an innovative eco-technological solution to transform organic kitchen waste into nutrient-rich, 100% natural and organic compost, replicating the natural way of recycling.
Monisha says, “We have created organic terrace gardens at multiple composting sites to create avenues for decentralised utilisation of compost generated by composting kitchen waste wet waste and also create a green cover that reduces carbon footprint.”
The RUR team regularly visited the site to monitor and train housekeeping staff who did secondary sorting of the waste, bio composting process in RUR Greengold biocomposters and dry waste collection, sorting and storage.
With about 60-70 kgs of compost being generated every month, the apartment put it to good use. “Soon with the compost, we started planting saplings for ornamental plants and vegetables for our terrace garden,” says Satish.
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The vegetable garden and the compost was a hit, and it was maintained by what the society calls “Green Champions” who are a mix of children, housewives, senior citizens as well as domestic staff.
“Teaching children planting and harvesting is very important,” says Satish. “We sowed seeds of palak, methi, tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers in February. By March-end and mid-April we had already harvested two batches of palak and methi,” says Satish proudly.
Since December 2017, the society has managed to produce 60-70 kgs of compost every month from the 700-800 kgs of kitchen waste. And have recycled over 300 kgs of dry waste every month which included glass and plastic bottles, paper, cardboard and Tetra Pak cartons, plastic bags, metal and electronic waste.
As a result, the society has helped BMC to reduce the garbage sent to landfills by 1,000-1,200 kgs each month.
Matoshree Pearl is one of RUR GreenLife’s successful ventures in turning a housing society into a decentralised waste management urban setup. We asked if this can be followed by other apartments as well.
Monisha answered, “Yes. It is very simple for any apartment to follow decentralised waste management solutions proposed by us. RUR provides training and awareness on segregation at source and bio-composting process.”
She adds, “And it’s not just societies, but also schools, colleges, corporates, and institutions that can and have adopted the solutions.”
They have converted over 350 schools, societies and corporates into buildings with green solutions. With over 150,000 sq ft area converted into an organic farming landscape, RUR is set out to ask the question that it stands for–“Are You Reducing, Reusing, Recycling?”
One of RUR’s flagship projects is the recycling of Tetra Pak cartons in association with Tetra Pak, Sahakari Bhandar, Reliance Fresh. “Since 2010, we have collected over 26,00,000 empty Tetra Pak cartons for recycling in Mumbai, and they are converted into useful products like garden benches or school desks. With the campaign ‘Cartons Le Aao, Classroom Banao, Go Green’, the initiative has donated 250 school desks. This programme has also been recognised by the Limca Book of Records 2013,” says Monisha.
RUR has bagged many prizes for its unique work in the field of waste management which includes Entrepreneur India 2017, where Monisha Narke was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year 2017. At the Yale Mentors Capital Network, Team RUR won the Sustainable Future’s Richard Heinberg Prize.
And they can help your housing society to go green. The societies can reach out to their various social media accounts, or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 022-66540957. You can also contact them through their website rur.co.in. Monisha says, “We will meet you and custom-make the project that suits your requirements.”
“We all can make an effort to go green, it just takes a bit of dedication and little help from incredible organisations like RuR to sustain it,” says Satish. With other initiatives like sewage water treatment and solar energy production in future, Matoshree’s Pearl Coop Housing Society in Mumbai is truly an example of people coming together for a greater cause.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)