How do I segregate my kitchen waste? What happens with each segregated pile? What happens after my trash bag leaves my doorstep? Do my segregated piles stay segregated? Who is responsible for the waste I generate? Where is my society’s collective waste being dumped? What happens after it is dumped at the chosen spot? How do people around a city’s garbage dump lead their lives?
These are questions that would perhaps have crossed every person’s mind at some point, but we don’t feel the need to dwell on them, because – well, it’s not a problem that will stop our lives in their tracks. Not at this moment, at least. So we brush these questions aside and continue with our lives.
But, these issues will most definitely stop our lives in their tracks in a few year’s time, if we continue to brush them aside. The ‘out of sight – out of mind mantra‘ has officially failed. The landfills have become humungous, diseases have become deadlier, wildlife has shrunk, and clean water has become a luxury.
An increase in disposable incomes means an increase in purchasing power, and the more we purchase, the more we waste. We’ve transitioned to urbanization, but the urban towns weren’t planned or prepared for our exploding mountains of waste. In addition, there is a lack of proper waste management education in the general public, which has led to rivers, streets, and virtually all aspects of its ecosystem being choked by our trash. Statistics show that in 2001 India generated 46 million tonnes of waste. By 2048, this number is predicted to reach an estimate of 125 million tonnes, making India the largest waste contributor in the world.
Take a glimpse at the challenging situation we are faced with today.
Every household has the power to manage its own waste effectively.
Today, it’s imperative to highlight the importance of conscious consumerism, minimalism, and effective waste management. They say ‘Charity begins at home.’ But, so does everything. Change begins at home too.
This week, Kidskintha interacted with a lady who made it her mission to help people make the change in their homes – through their kitchens. Poonam Bir Kasturi, the lady behind Daily Dump – a name synonymous with home and organic composting today shares her journey and her vision for garbage management and composting. Poonam is credited with making home composting cool, fun, and easy and has built a platform focused on designing, manufacturing, and distributing products related to easy home composting.
Every city, town, and village needs to tackle its escalating garbage disposal conundrum. The Daily Dump has piqued the interest of youth, millennials, and environmentally conscious citizens and educated them on the need, importance, and process of home composting. Over the last fifteen years, Poonam has worked relentlessly to emphasize the urgency to start home composting. The Daily Dump platform answers all your composting questions and provides tools and accessories to meet your composting needs.
In her interview with Kidskintha, Poonam reflects on the beginnings of her challenging journey. Convincing people to create a new habit is never easy, especially when it’s not considered urgent or important. Read on to see how Poonam persevered in her social endeavor.
Hi Poonam. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us about the beginnings of Daily Dump Compost?
Waste has been a part of my life for a long time, it seems. My first design project while studying at the National Institute of Design was on a landfill site. I lived on that site for three weeks as part of a systems design project. It was a great experience, and that stayed with me. I have always been interested in seeing how design can engage with large wicked issues. When I started teaching and read endlessly on sustainability, I learned a lot, met fascinating people, saw intriguing projects, and then decided to take action. So Daily Dump began in 2006.
In the beginning, how did you start educating others about the need for composting?
I would go to any meeting, event, tea party, and fair to spread the word. I was keen to educate anyone who showed the slightest interest.
It was very challenging to build the demand for something that nobody really thought was urgent or important.
Did you face a lot of resistance from people in the beginning?
Oh yes, many forms of resistance. The experts were convinced this would not stick, the potential customers were suspicious, and even friends and family were skeptical of this project.
When did you start your social media page? How has social media helped spread awareness about composting?
We started using the internet in 2006 itself and Facebook as soon as it started. Social media has really helped composting gain acceptance and become the norm. This medium has helped put this simple daily habit into the spotlight and given it national and international recognition.
How has your life changed after you started your entrepreneurial initiative?
I was always a workaholic, and I was pushed further in the same direction.
According to you, how has the youth taken up the eco-friendly culture? Do you find it easier to work with the young?
Young are more aware and can understand the interconnections easily. They are open to new ideas and willing to experiment. As a result, we find it easier to convince younger folks to compost.
Also Read: SuperBottoms UNO: Build an Eco-Friendly Family Culture with Cloth Diapers
Where do you see home composting in the next five years?
There will be an emergence of the automatic composter. The washing machine and the dishwasher are the gadgets of my time. Robotic cleaners and automatic composters will become part of middle-class homes in another 5 years.
How can families adopt an eco-friendly culture easily, especially when our living spaces are shrinking?
Living in smaller spaces makes it only more important to remove all clutter. Overconsumption is not only bad for the wallet, but it’s also bad for the spaces we live in. Going eco-friendly makes you enjoy your spaces more and gives you the satisfaction of doing something good.
What are the most common questions you get about home composting?
Will it stink? Will it have bugs, and will the bugs that come into my home cause harm? If I do it incorrectly, who will help me? What will I do with the ready compost if I don’t have plants?
Quick Reference: FAQs on home composting for beginners
What does home composting mean?
Home composting is the process of managing your organic (kitchen) waste by converting it to healthy, nutritious food for soil; instead of throwing it out and adding toxins to our air, soil and water.
How to start composting at home? What are your tips for home composting for beginners?
DIY home composting is very easy. All you need is a container to collect your day’s vegetable and fruit peels and a composter to suit your family size.
What can be put in a home compost? What should you not compost? For example, can litter for animals be composted in home compost?
We can compost the following: vegetables, seeds, fruits, mosambi, lime, tomatoes, cauliflower stalk, stalks, roots, nuts, seeds, mango seeds, pineapple head and skin, onion peel, watermelon skin, corn on the cob, vegetable cuttings, banana peel, cores, tea and coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, cooked food, cheese, bones, dried flowers, dried leaves, tissue paper, shredded paper, sawdust. Coconut shells take too long to decompose, so it’s best to store and use them as fuel.
We need to clean and store all these items to sell and recycle: old clothes, paper, newspaper, magazines, all plastic bottles and boxes (rinse all containers and packets before storing), glass bottles, aluminum and foil, kurkure & biscuit packets, tetra paks, other products like tubes, buckets, odds and ends. These wastes can be sold to raddiwallas, and some can be reused. All of this can be reduced if you think carefully before you buy.
It is important to collect each category separately and dispose of it through the right agencies. For example, you can tie up with hospitals for medical wastes and contact an e-waste agency. They will pick up your toxic wastes and dispose of them safely. Hazardous waste should be treated before sending to the landfill.
Collect and send them to the landfill, preferably in a paper bag. These include soiled diapers and sanitary napkins, animal poop, dead animals, cigarette butts. Technically, indoor sweeping and hair are compostable, but most people don’t like to put these in the composter.
What are the pros and cons of home composting?
There are only pros. No Cons!
Here are 15 benefits of home composting: It is nature’s way of recycling, builds sound root structure in plants, increases organic matter in soils, reduces water demands of plants, attracts and feeds earthworms, gives sandy soil body to hold moisture, can extend the growing season, reduces reliance on petrochemical fertilizers, controls soil erosion, improves vitamin and mineral content in food, makes clay soils airy so they drain, reduces plant stress from drought and freezes, balances the PH of soil, making it at home reduces your guilt and waste by 60% and it also reduces global warming.
How long does it take to make compost?
It takes 6-8 weeks from the day you start for compost to be ready. After that, we suggest that it is left to mature and rest for another 4 weeks before using it for soil and plants.
Also Read: 12 Sustainable Lifestyle Ideas That Will Be The Norm In Our Kid’s World
How to compost PLA plastic?
There isn’t enough research yet to indicate that PLA plastic can be composted in homes – with no toxins leached into the soil.
Additionally, when such materials are compostable, they refer to industrial level composting that is impossible to achieve in individual homes.
What are the different ways to use the compost made at home?
These are some fun ways to use compost made at home: Gift it to a plant or a loved one, run your fingers through it and chant, sprinkle compost over trees in the neighborhood, carry compost when you go for a long walk, and leave a trail, make art installations, sell it to Daily Dump, make a sandbox for your kids to play with compost and finally smell it and connect to the earth.
Does compost smell? Should we stop compost from smelling?
When done right, compost does not smell foul at all. However, if your compost pile is smelling bad – it is calling for your attention. It means there isn’t enough carbon in the pile to balance the nitrogen of kitchen waste. It also indicates a lack of adequate oxygen and aeration in the pile.
What are the most common mistakes people make when composting at home?
Not adding equal amounts of Remix Powder.
This makes the pile too wet and smelly and attracts a lot of flies. You need the carbon of the Remix Powder to offset the moisture in the nitrogen-rich kitchen waste. You have to put Remix Powder every day. 4-5 fistfuls when you begin and later on adjust this to suit the moisture levels in the pile.
Leaving the pile to become compacted, wet and slimy, and therefore smelly.
Alternating kitchen waste with Remix Powder is one way of avoiding the compaction of piles. Stirring the pile helps if it gets compacted. But, if your pile smells, it means you are not doing it right!
Not adding enough neem or turmeric powder, the pile gets too many maggots, and the user feels repulsed.
No customer can imagine the maggots. In some piles, the soldier fly maggots can be quite prolific, and the best thing to do is to add 2 tablespoons of neem or turmeric powder in all containers every week. Also, remember these maggots are good for composting and harmless. Appreciate them.
Not covering the pile with paper – attracts too many fruit flies – these find their way into the kitchen and dining area.
Customers underestimate the term “cover.” By cover, we mean fully covering the waste’s surface with Remix Powder and then with newspaper so that the flies have no exposed food waste to settle on. Next, tuck the paper in on all sides tightly. Remove the paper the next day to put in waste and Remix Powder, then put it back in place.
Not adding enough dried leaves in the bottom container to absorb the leachate (liquid released during composting).
Because the last container is not seen, most customers do not look at it, and sometimes the leachate is a lot, and the bed of leaves at the bottom is inadequate to absorb it. Once in two weeks, it’s wise to inspect all the containers (units). Remove leachate in case it has collected at the bottom. Add dried leaves.
Not mixing half-done compost with fresh kitchen waste.
Mixing different vintages of composting matter helps accelerate the time of all the piles. However, most customers don’t think that this will help reduce problems of smell and flies. This is a simple and sure way of reducing the problems.
Not adding enough water and letting the pile go dry.
Some customers are so scared about moisture that they let the pile go very dry. This stops composting totally. The microorganisms need a film of water to live on and work. So make sure that the pile is moist – not soggy – but moist.
Home composting tips
If you are stirring the pile with your hands: 1. Wear gloves if you want to handle decomposing organic matter directly. 2. Wash your hands well (preferably with soap) after you have worked with the decomposing matter.
A tip from Home Science class
If your diet has lime(mosambi), you need to add baking soda every week in all three containers to keep acidity in check. A highly acidic pile will have a slower decomposition. (add 1 tablespoon of baking soda every week in each container)
What does Neem Oil Cake do?
Neem is good for everything. It’s a natural medicinal additive. In our experience, it keeps the pile “healthy.” That’s as far as we can go on the reasons why we use it and recommend it.
Good flies and bad flies.
What are soldier fly maggots? The soldier fly is the good fly of the compost heap. It suppresses the eco-cycle of the house-fly, which is the pest-carrying fly. It can become quite prolific in a compost heap, and while hundreds of them look repulsive, they are harmless. The soldier fly emerges from these maggots. A good dose of neem powder keeps the population in control. (2 tablespoons every fortnight in each container)
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