I Heart Dirt: 30 Day Compost Challenge Part 3

30 Days of home composting, here I share how to start composting, the simple ways to segregate garbage and the best yet – get a glimpse of the forest eco-system in your city home! 

Day 10 – Day 20: Biggest Challenge Managing Dry Waste

At the Green Souls workshop and when I started this project, I wondered where I might find dry organic matter like leaves or saw dust so freely available.

I live after all in a concrete jungle with little or no immediate access to freely growing trees or wild grass. But luckily when your mid is focused on a project, it begins to highlight all the ingredients it requires to make it work. It was the month of September and for the first time in my 30 years of living in this city, I experienced the colours of fall in Bombay!

IMG_20150929_075656It began as I first noticed, just footsteps away from home, tufts of thick dry grass flourishing through those paver blocks across the city. Then on a work trip to Goregaon Exhibition Center, I noticed a singular fall tree having marked it’s perimeter with the most beautiful carpet of crunch, dry, earth-coloured leaves. I promptly hunted down a large carton and began filling it with those gorgeous leaves. That carton full of leaves lasted me till the end of this challenge. And since then wherever I go for a walk in the morning I notice gardeners collecting dry leaves and they are only too happy to share that with me.

The Real Challenge  

Now the problem was not wet waste anymore. It was those three bins of dry garbage that I had to figure out what to do with. As a kid I remember my Dadi used to collect plastic from milk packets, rice bags, grains, any other source of kitchen plastic and at the end of the month, a raddi wala came in and gave her lasoon (garlic) in exchange for the plastic collected. Not in my area any more though. So I asked around whether that practice still continued somewhere in the city and Parvati our house help said it does where she lives. That’s not a brilliant mode of disposing the plastic but I thought until I found a better solution, this will have to do..

IMG_20151128_124006So Parvati now takes the monthly plastic bag stash and gets its equivalent quantity in weight of garlic. I still haven’t figured a solution for the aluminium packets though. The scrap paper I shred into smaller pieces and add to the compost, it disintegrates in a week, so that’s no problem.

Paper Towels versus Cloth Rag 

But the biggest issue yet was all the paper towels! Mom had recently – about a year back started using them in place of cloth rags and they come in handy for cleaning the kitchen counter, collecting sediments of wet waste from the counter like seeds, wiping wet hands, soaking up a spill on the counter, etc. etc. cleaning up everything without using a drop of water.

If it was just a few pieces of paper, I could shred it and add it to the compost, no problem. But because of its high utility, it was used a lot, by everyone in the house, for everything and by Day 18 I had a bucket load of moist, stained kitchen napkins to deal with!

This was an urgent problem, so a one on one discussion with Mom was called. I emptied the entire bucket of soiled paper towels collected over the past 18 days and to my surprise I found half of them had already dried out. But naturally when Mom saw me study the contense of each napkin she freaked and noted how unhygienic the act was. But that made me think then how unhygienic it was to use paper towels in the first place, not to mention half of them going waste when we could easily switch back to those recycled cloth rags that we used earlier?

Besides, this paper waste was an unnecessary addition to landfills and add to that the amount of money spent each year on kitchen paper towels alone! Cost implication: A pack of paper towels has 2 rolls. Mom used 2 of these packs every month, an approximate cost of Rs.200 per pack i.e Rs.2400 per month. Saved!

Money saved is money earned, my Nana used to say 🙂

Week 3  Compost Challenge: When Disaster Strikes in the Composter!

 

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