In several cities, waste collection services have become irregular due to the lockdown. The result? Growing piles of mixed waste line the streets in residential areas or overflow into stormwater drains. These garbage heaps harbour rodents and mosquitoes and become sources of vector-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. Come monsoon, and the stench and discharge from the garbage make it a potent stew that pollutes soil and groundwater.
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While it is possible to hold on to dry waste for weeks or even months, wet waste poses a problem if it is not managed immediately. We’re all at home these days which means we’re cooking more often and producing more kitchen waste. So, this is a great time to start composting.
Here is a home-composting technique that is super simple and does not require any expensive equipment.
Step 1: Start off with a large cardboard box. This can hold up to 500gms of wet waste every day. In the box, mix together:
- 2 parts cocopeat (available online or in gardening stores)
- 1 part sawdust or dry leaves
- Daily wet waste
Raise the box with bricks to improve airflow.
Step 2: Place it in your balcony or a corner of the kitchen. Make sure it is not exposed to rain. Cover it with a sheet of paper or plastic if you’re placing it in a spot that’s exposed to rain.
Step 3: You can add any sort of wet waste into the box such as:
- Fruit and vegetable peels, stalks, skins and stems
- Eggshells, coffee grounds and tea leaves
- Bread and cooked food (avoid adding liquid gravies)
- Corn husks
Avoid adding the following items:
- Meat and fish
- Human and animal hair
- Anything that’s too sour, including citrus fruit and peels and pickles (they delay the decomposition process)
Some pointers to keep in mind:
- Chop up any large chunks of waste into small pieces before you add it into the box
- Add in the waste, stir it well. Stirring once daily is enough
- You can use a starter such as sour curd, buttermilk, cocopeat, ready compost or a commercially available microbe powder to get the decomposition process started
- Make sure to keep a healthy level of moisture in the bin for the microbes to act. Your bin should be damp, but not soggy, for the microbes to act
- If the mix gets too wet, add some dry leaves or shredded newspaper to balance it out
- As your box fills up, you can use the compost as fertiliser in your potted plants or garden
Do you compost at home? We’d love to hear your tips for producing good quality compost. If you do try out this method, let us know how it worked for you.