Composting can save the city
All living beings on the land come from soil and finally return to soil, a simple rule of nature that has ensured a balanced ecological cycle for millions of years. While the right kind of composition of all constituent ingredients of an object brings it forth to life, the decomposition of these ingredients leads to decay and death of the material. Composting is a biological term for this act of decomposing, which happens everyday for all bio-degradable materials such as vegetables, fruits, cooked food, cotton, timber, leafy matters with cellulose, meat and other animal products. As human beings if we can ensure this process, we are contributing to the cycle of nature. If not, we are the villains breaking this cycle.
If we walk into rural settings, natural materials rotting and decaying around is a common sight. We may scoff at it, but in reality it is a healthier activity than having non-biodegradable wastes like plastics and other manufactured materials floating around. In villages, the bio-waste gets decomposed in the open with smell and flies; hence we tend to think of composting itself as a disease causing activity, which is not all true. Incidentally, it is possible to let this decay happen in a regulated way, without emanating any smell or fear of ill health and collecting rich garden manure as the end product.
Reduce the burden
Urban dwellers tend to hang their hands in air, when we discuss about solid waste disposal saying it needs to be solved by the collective system, where an individual family can do nothing. Besides generating less waste, we can recycle all degradable materials into compost, reduce the burden on the city in disposing of the waste and turn this waste into a value-added product. In an urban set-up, 1 to 2 kg of solid biodegradable waste is generated everyday by an average family that can be a heavy burden on the city administration, but it can be easily composted even at a small apartment itself and definitely in a plotted house.
Organic matters, primarily leftover items during cooking in our own homes, should be kept separate and put into the composting bin or pit if we have land. It is such a simple daily activity that after a few weeks becomes a routine. Occasionally turn the waste around, add culture media to speed up the composting activity if so desired, wait for the required weeks — the compost is ready. With more than half the volume of bio-wastes being water, the dampness reduces, volume shrinks, and compresses the waste as days pass by. Everyday one kg waste may sound high, but it requires less than 4 sq. ft. of floor area for composting it.
Home composting gives us the joy of being with nature and an activity with a feel-good factor that we can talk about. It only requires further study, understanding of the concept and appropriate application.