Waste management in the times of Coronavirus warrants a RETHINK

By Pinky Chandran

The movie Contagion’s grim visuals of uncollected garbage lining deserted streets was one of the most profound images that stayed with me even after the movie ended. It continued to haunt me as I consumed media reports about increasing COVID19 positive cases. Continue reading

A GLIMPSE OF THE SACRED

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Reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. A thought that he dwells on while explaining the satisfaction one can derive out of highly focused craftsmanship struck me. This satisfaction need not necessarily come from extracting artistry from crude metals or wood carving or painting or writing or anything that we instantly attach artistry to. It can be something as ‘mechanical’ as computer programming, too. It can be both physical and cognitive, provided it calls for high levels of skills. Continue reading

Is composting as dirty, impractical, time-consuming & tedious a process as BBMP thinks?

In what can be termed a highly disappointing turn of events, the views of SWM Joint Commissioner Sarfaraz Khan on composting have hit the green activists hard. Going by the buzz in various WhatsApp groups created to share tips and experiences on composting amongst green activists as well as enthusiasts from various walks of life across the city, the joint commissioner’s take on the same that appeared in today’s Bangalore Mirror has left them bewildered. Continue reading

A word of caution for those looking for genuine composting solutions

A well-intentioned expansion of mediocrity is at play. Before anyone offers you a quick solution, please remember that “compost” is the most misused word these days and that you have a lot of questions to ask. And yes, I am not talking about only 24-hour automatic ‘composters’. Continue reading

‘Mom, when am I going to get my periods next? I can’t wait!’

Stonesoup Founder Malini Parmar, a committed sustainable menstruation activist, shares her experience of turning her two daughters into ‘cupverts’ in this interesting article. Read on…

“Can my daughter use a cup?” How many times have I heard this question? The answer is highly nuanced and there is no straight “yes” or “no”. Before searching for an answer, I recommend that parents watch this TEDx talk first, “The Virginity Fraud”. Continue reading

SwachaGraha Compost Connect kicked off, biomass sent back to the soil

Solid Waste Management Round Table’s SwachaGraha Compost Connect (SGCC) campaign was officially kicked off today with two farmers picking up a tractor-load of kitchen waste compost from Sobha Althea-Azalea, Yelahanka, Bengaluru. There are still many more heaps of compost to be loaded up.

Continue reading

Most apartments in Bengaluru are penny-wise & pound-foolish. Here’s why.

A huge 1,400-flat Brigade apartment in JP Nagar generates over 1,000 kgs of food waste per day. To dispose of this load of precious waste illegally, they pay anything between Rs 75,000-Rs 1,00,000 to a private contractor. Sometime ago, a vendor who specialises in biogas systems approached them offering a happily-ever-after solution. It called for a one-time investment of Rs 1,500 per flat which ran into Rs 21 lakh. The biogas unit, fitted with a genset, was capable of generating a good deal of power which would help them recover their investment in less than four years. There were other added benefits, too. But the community rejected the solution outright saying, “it’s too costly!” Continue reading

Does your community produce excess compost? Join SwachaGraha Compost Connect campaign

Farmers located on the outskirts of the city meet members of Solid Waste Management Round Table to discuss Swachagraha Compost Connect campaign in Bengaluru on December 4.

Sometimes, things take longer than you think they will. And then, they happen faster than you thought they could.

SwachaGraha Compost Connect (SGCC) is one such dream project conceived by Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT), Bengaluru, that will work towards connecting urban compost producers with rural farming community with the sole intention of sending the precious organic waste coming out of our kitchens and gardens back to the soil in the form of compost. Continue reading

SWM in apartments: Mumbai’s Green Communities Foundation keeps it simple and efficient

Endlessly Green is pleased to share these two case studies of SWM projects being executed by Mumbai-based Green Communities Foundation which is a waste management consultancy for societies and corporates. This blogpost lays bare how certain simple processes can help you execute segregation and composting in communities no matter which part of the country you live in. Continue reading

Community composting method-17: Be it apartments, parks or lanes, Aaditi from Stonesoup fits right in

(L to R) Stonesoup co-founder Smita Kulkarni, SWM activist Shanthi Chowdhary and SWM volunteer Padma pose proudly with an Aaditi installed in a lane in HSR Layout. It is being managed by Padma and neighbours.

There’s something undeniable about a good product design. It fits in.

This observation goes well with Aaditi—a scalable aerobic composting system—designed, manufactured and marketed by Bengaluru-based startup company Stonesoup. It’s an entrepreneurial venture by SWM activists Malini Parmar and Smita Kulkarni. Continue reading

Mixed waste ‘compost’ & heavy metal contamination: Let’s stop living in a fool’s paradise

We all think household waste is relatively harmless and that rejects like plastic can be extracted out of the compost pile once the process is through. When I pored over some research papers, this is what emerged. To put it succinctly, what we throw enters the food chain, comes back and sits on our dining tables. Continue reading

Yet another 24-hour piece of junk. Yet another distraught customer.

When I visited an apartment complex in Electronic City yesterday, this is how the story went…

The community wanted to have its own composting system and carved out some space for it in a corner. What ended up in that corner was this 24-hour fully automatic composter. To the residents who knew little about composting, this sounded like a fantastic idea. Why not when someone promises that the manure comes out in less than 24 hours and that this box can take in up to 150 kgs a day? Continue reading

Soil Recipe-8: Easy-to-prepare, low-cost Thrishakti tonic keeps your garden robust & pest-free

This cost-effective and easy-to-prepare liquid fertiliser is one of those old-time golden farming solutions meant to offer multiple benefits to the soil and the plants and safeguard farmers’ interests. Noted soil activist SOIL Vasu has been propagating Thrishakti tonic among farmers and documenting its positive effect on various types of crops. Thanks to him, we are able to learn this method in detail and also its effects as demonstrated in the pictures shared by him. Continue reading

No accelerator or recurring expenses. Rotary Twin Drum puts a positive spin on home composting

When Mr Kishor Rathi, director of Aurangabad-based Spinform Plastics, approached me to try out his Rotary Drum Composter some months ago, I was more keen on reviewing his large-scale composting products. But Mr Rathi persisted and couriered this compact, twin-coloured unit. The company manufactures various types of composters of different capacities for both home and community purposes. Here, I have reviewed only the Rotary Twin Drum composter and added a few details on the Single Drum composter with wheel. Continue reading

The so-called 24-hr ‘compost’ harms the soil and all its produce, warns noted ecologist Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail

Soil biologist and ecologist Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail

If one were to sum up the entire body of work of this renowned soil biologist and ecologist in one word, it would be earthworms. Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail’s lifework is centred on the techniques for recycling biodegradable waste into fertilizer using local varieties of earthworms and soil bioremediation. Dr Ismail, MD of Ecoscience Research Foundation, Chennai, has conducted extensive awareness sessions especially among schoolchildren to promote vermicomposting and environmental awareness. For him, the two are inseparable.

Here’s his statement—reproduced verbatim—on 24-hour or automatic composters being manufactured and sold all over India by various firms claiming that their machines produce ‘compost’ in just 24 hours or sometimes, 48-72 hours. Continue reading

Community composting method-16: These composters can solve city’s dry leaves burning problem. Is BBMP listening?

One of the Soil and Health’s leaf composters at Sobha Althea-Azalea, Bengaluru, busy doing what it does best: compost.

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.
― Gary Snyder Continue reading

24-hr composters: There’s no microbe in this universe that can colonise in 24 hrs, says scientist Dr Manoj

Dr C N Manoj, Pelican Biotech.

Quite often, I find myself involved in long-winding email/social media conversations or phone calls with green volunteers of large communities discussing automatic or 24-hour composters to deal with huge quantities of kitchen rejects and garden clippings generated in their communities. It so happens that the individuals who care to discuss this issue threadbare are invariably those souls who believe in Nature’s perfection and are ready to live by its rules, patiently.

The following nuggets of wisdom pouring light on this topic are from scientist Dr C N Manoj, Founder-Director of Pelican Biotech. I have collated all the information he has shared with me through emails and phone calls here. This should help you bust any myth about these menacing machines of various brands that have carved out a sinuous trail through urban concrete jungles all over India and arm yourself with scientific facts to put forth your argument in favour of sustainable composting methods. Continue reading

Community composting method-15: Try this DIY using GKVK culture, cut costs

The sole aim behind conducting this experiment in my apartment was to check whether the compost culture sold by Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK) located in North Bangalore can work just as good as any other culture/accelerator sold by vendors/innovators in the city.

Well, it does. At a much lower cost! Continue reading

Composting does not stink, Mr Minister! Our misconceptions do.

Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town planning K J George (Pic source: IE)

I wish we had a chance to ring in 2018 on a positive note, but our honorable Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town planning K J George’s statement leaves little to cheer for.

At a Smart City Mission meet held in the city yesterday, the minister announced that the state government was all set to opt for waste-to-energy (WtE) technology because “composting stinks”. Continue reading

Green cleaning hacks-1: Why vinegar is an integral part of my eco-friendly home cleaning kit

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If you ask me what led me to all my green pursuits, I can put my finger on this one colourless liquid without thinking twice: white vinegar (food grade).

Back in 2003 when we were living in the US, I first started using white vinegar as a rinsing agent in the dishwasher to remove those ugly white spots from the dishes. I didn’t know much about it then or else, I would have spent a lot less on those hazardous chemicals to clean glass and toilets and sent a lot less destructive agents down the drain to pollute the soil and water bodies eventually. Continue reading

Time to grow greens. Time to get back to basics.

Balconies don’t offer much leeway in terms of space and sunlight. I have tried growing many kinds of veggies including cauliflower, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, carrot, radish, etc. But the economics of space advises me that sticking to green leafy ones is the best way to go. Since I get most of the seasonal fruits and veggies from organic stores, thinking of keeping the limited balcony space exclusively for salad greens and some aromatic herbs, the ones that you want to just cut, rinse, shred and make a salad out of, all in a jiffy. Continue reading

Soil Recipe-7: Panchagavya, the magic begins with this spray!

(Pic source: Pinterest)

There maybe many kinds of soil recipes, but the most preferred one amongst urban gardeners is Panchagavya. So much so that this solution is sold in the market by various companies and is a common remedy prescribed by seasoned gardeners.

Similarly, there maybe many variations of Panchagavya recipe available depending on the type and proportion of the ingredients used. What is being presented here is the one which has been verified by experienced organic farmers who apply this amazing and cost-effective solution to both small and large agricultural lands. Continue reading

Soil Recipe-6: Gunapaselam, a plant tonic made with fish extracts has all micro & macro nutrients

Organic farming experts say Gunapaselam contains all the nutrients your plants need for their healthy growth and immunity. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, this may not be the solution for you. But those who do not want to throw away fish rejects can extract maximum benefits by preparing this plant tonic. Continue reading

Cauliflower and that unholy dip in poison

On one fine early morning, a farmer who was unloading a truckload of cauliflowers inside the farmers’ market (Raithara Santhe) in Yelahanka explained the process that goes into keeping them white and germs-free. He said each cauliflower goes into a barrel filled with diluted pesticides to prevent any post-harvest germs attack. What you get to see is the spotless white curd or the head of the cauliflower, pristine enough to satisfy the majority in this white-obsessed country. Continue reading