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Dabbas, Pots & Pipes: 5 Ways to Compost Using ‘Junk’ in Your Home During #Lockdown

Dabbas, Pots & Pipes: 5 Ways to Compost Using ‘Junk’ in Your Home During #Lockdown

Vasuki Iyengar, an IT-professional-turned-compost-consultant has easy solutions to help you get started on the composting journey, even during the lockdown!

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There is a stink around the garbage bin outside the house. The wet waste in it is decomposing but the infrequent collection of waste means that I get a taste (rather smell) of what must be happening in the Bengaluru landfills month after month. However, I do not have a composting bin nor the powder to get the process started.

Can I still utilise my wet waste? Even during these times, where many regular services have been discontinued?

If you were asking yourself these questions in the past few weeks of the lockdown, Vasuki Iyengar, an IT professional turned composting consultant, has just the answer for you.

In fact, he has five! Turning the ‘junk’ in your storeroom into a composting bin, Iyengar will show you how now (yes, really) is an excellent time to begin composting.

1. Pipe Composting

Did a plumber leave some PVC pipes behind and you have no idea what to do with them? Here’s a compost bin that is compact, affordable and very easy to make. Great for a small family or even people living alone, this pipe bin will gobble up your waste and give you nourishing compost.

What you will need:

  • PVC pipes (about 6-inch diameter & 5 feet height. Depending on the amount of kitchen waste, you will require between one to three pipes for every member of the house)
  • End caps for each pipe
  • Drilling machine

Method:

  • In a straight line, drill holes along the pipe. Keep a distance of about 7-8 cm between each. Make these holes around across the pipe to ensure air ventilation.
  • Drill about 4-5 holes on the end cap too.
  • Dig a 1-foot deep hole in your garden to place the pipe in. You can place it in a plant pot or such other container too. Just make sure the pipe has enough soil around it.
  • Place the pipe in the hole and secure its place with soil. Add brown matter such as crushed dry leaves, wood chippings, cocopeat at the bottom.
  • The next layer can be your kitchen waste, chopped up in small 1 inch X 1 inch pieces.
  • “In any method composting, three things are crucial—air composition, water absorption and microorganisms. Kitchen waste consists of about 60-70 per cent moisture, and so, dry brown matter like dry leaves is important to soak it in,” Iyengar tells The Better India (TBI).
  • Maintain the sequence of these layers. If using dry leaves or coco peat, add some curd or cow dung slurry to accelerate the composting process.
  • When the pipe is full, you can pull it out from the soil, take away the compost at the bottom and re-erect it. If the compost isn’t ready yet, switch to another pipe and repeat.

2. Composting in curd dabbas

home compost lockdown
Pipe composters. Image Courtesy: Vasuki Iyengar

Composting in curd buckets is so easy that you’ll wonder why you didn’t start this earlier.

“Collect completely dried leaves, put them in a sack and jog on them to make a fine powder of them. Cocopeat is available for sale in Bengaluru even during the lockdown but if you don’t want to risk it, using curd or premade compost is an effective way to accelerate the process of composting,” Iyengar shares with TBI.

What you will need:

  • About 20-30 curd dabbas or buckets with lids (1 litre each)

Method:

  • Clean and dry the containers. Poke holes on the lid and the container itself.
  • Start with a layer of brown material and add kitchen waste on top. Finish again with crushed dry leaves or coco peat.
  • “Always remember the 1:1 ratio—one portion of dry brown material to one portion of wet waste. This absorbs moisture and keeps the compost from stinking,” mentions Iyengar.
  • Once the first container is full, close it and mark it with a “1.”
  • Store away on a shelf which is at least 3 feet high or keep a cardboard box on it to avoid rats and mice.
  • Repeat with the other containers. When the last container is full, the first one should be ready with your compost (considering you fill one or two days’ waste in one container).

3. The “Lalitha” composting bin

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This composting bin is the brainchild of Lalitha Mondreti, an environment activist in Bengaluru, and can be made using everyday items like a colander and a bucket

What you will need:

  • A 3 mm galvanised iron mesh (shaped into a cylinder)
  • A mud pot or a plastic bucket about 1 foot in height
  • A colander
  • If you are using a mud pot, a bottom plate to place it in

Method:

  • Place the mud pot on a bottom plate. Using binding wires, shape the iron mesh, so it is about the same diameter as the pot. Place the mesh in the pot.
  • Put the colander (or fruit dish cover) on top of the cylindrical iron mesh.
  • Just like the other bins, start by arranging a layer of dry brown matter at the bottom, adding some coco peat or pre-made compost and then layering your kitchen waste with it.
  • The colander is necessary to avoid birds or other pests from entering your compost bin.
  • Place the bin on a stand, or a high-touch surface. Make sure water does not enter it.
  • When the contents of the bin have turned into compost, simply pull out the mesh.

4. A Mesh Compost Bin

A big family inevitably needs a large composting bin to ensure all their kitchen waste is utilised. Try this mesh composting bin which requires just a few materials but can gobble up several days’ worth of food remains.

What you will need:

  • A 3 feet mesh sheet with 1-inch perforation
  • Binding wires
  • Pliers
  • A 4 feet mesh wire with 4-inch perforation
  • Bricks or such other base to place the composting bin on

Method:

  • Get a 3 feet square sheet of 1” perforated mesh sheet and bend it into a cylindrical shape. Fasten with binding wires, so it stays firm
  • Bind one end of the 4mm perforated sheet to this cylindrical bin and bend it to form the outer layer of the bin. Secure with binding wires.
  • Cut two small rectangles in the outer mesh towards the bottom of the bin to use as handles.
  • Place the bin on interlocking bricks or another heightened surface. You can close it with a lid also made of mesh wires.

5. Drum compost bin

home compost lockdown
Drum composters. Image Courtesy: Vasuki Iyengar

Water drums, buckets (with lids), paint containers or industrial plastic drums can now be your composting bins, helping you to transform wet waste during the home quarantine period. Iyengar, who runs the compost consulting company, Soil and Health, shares how.

What you will need:

  • A water drum, plastic bucket, paint container or plastic drum
  • Drilling machine
  • Plastic (or other) base plate to catch the fluids

Method:

  • Drill 5 mm holes on the lids on the containers. About 20 holes work fine.
  • On the bottom of the container, drill 4 bigger holes.
  • Around the container, drill holes no bigger than 3 mm, so worms and other pests don’t enter.
  • Clean away the plastic residue pieces with a dry cloth, so they don’t enter the compost.
  • Place the bin on the base plate and just like the other bins, start with crushed dry leaves and brown material, followed by cocopeat, curd or premade compost and finally, kitchen waste. Repeat these layers until the bin is full. Keep mixing it up once or twice a week to ensure aeration.

Also Read: Kerala Man’s Self-Sustaining 10 Acre Farm Gobbles Up the Waste of An Entire Society!


(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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