The average urban Indian citizen generates nearly 700 grams of solid waste per person per day which is nearly 250 kg in a year. More than half of what we carelessly throw into the trash is organic matter, which if composted, can produce rich top soil for our plants. Unfortunately, most of us do not segregate our dry waste from wet waste, which makes composting impossible.
Composting is simply the process of breaking down the organic matter (food waste) in the presence of air and water, using microorganisms and small insects present in nature. The end product is called compost which is rich in readily usable plant nutrients forming a part of healthy soil.
Composting organisms require 4 conditions to create compost:
- Carbon that comes from brown organic matter like dried leaves, sawdust, paper
- Nitrogen that comes from fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds
- Oxygen which comes from air
- Water in the right amounts
Composting is one of the simplest ways of contributing positively to waste management and one you can easily do at home. Here are some easy steps to compost your kitchen waste
Step 1 - Get a Container
If you are new to composting, a ready compost container will ease the preparatory process. Try aerobic composting with Orbin.com or EcoBin.com. Or there’s always the option of creating your bin. Pick a mid-sized to the big bin, preferably with a lid, so that you can keep adding food waste and organic matter over a longer period. Drill a few holes around the container to allow air circulation. Line the lid with newspapers or add a filter to keep bugs and odor at bay.
Step 2 - Find Your Composting Space
The best places to start composting are outdoor spaces, like your terrace or roof. With sunlight and natural moisture, the compost pit is likely to function more efficiently. When you are really strapped for space, the easiest place to start is your kitchen. Countertop composting can be started on your tabletop or sink
Step 3 - Gather your Waste
The right ingredients are crucial to the success of your composting efforts. While the difference between wet and dry wastes is well known, many are still not aware of what kind of food waste goes into a compost bin. Raw foods and peels are ideal, bones, dairy, rice, and wheat products can take longer to decompose and sometimes attract bugs. So, separate your edible kitchen waste (vegetable peels, fruit peels, small amounts of wasted cooked food) in a container and also Collect dry organic matter (dried leaves, sawdust) in a small container
Step 4 - Layer your Compost
Line the bottom with a layer of soil. Now start adding food waste in layers alternating wet waste (food scraps, vegetable, and fruit peels) with dry waste (straw, sawdust, dried leaves).
Step 5 - Maintaining your Compost Bin
Cover this container with a plastic sheet or a plank of wood to help retain moisture and heat. Every few days, use a rake to give the pile a quick turn to provide aeration. If you think the pile is too dry, sprinkle some water so that it is moist. Within 2 - 3 months, your pile should start forming compost that is dry, dark brown and crumbly, and smelling of earth. With time and a little patience, composting will become second nature to you.
Composting is an impactful, food-waste solution and an interactive hobby! The process may feel daunting at first, but once you see your food waste turn from trash into a healthy fertilizer, it all feels worth it.