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

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

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

Zero-waste temple: This is where, my friends, God smiles!

There’s this beautiful peepal tree with its roots resting in infinity and boughs arching over the Sri Shakthi Kalyana Mahaganapathi Temple located at Kalyana Nagar, Banaswadi.

True, almost every temple or village in India has at least one such tree standing tall in all its nakedness with a lump of sacred threads wound around it. No one can say for sure what each thread would mean individually: Pain, anguish, victory, desire, devotion, gratitude, joy or frustration. But weave them together, a firm pattern of meaning emerges on its own: unconditional surrender. Continue reading

This 24-hour composter was on fire, literally!

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A simple human error resulted in this machine catching fire and damaging the roof of DSR Woodwinds apartment’s compost room six months ago. It seems beyond repair now and has been dumped in the parking lot. (Pics: SH)

This is an incident that unfolded at DSR Woodwinds apartment, Sarjapur Road. An automatic 24-hour machine given by the builder to compost kitchen waste caught fire when a staff member mistakenly switched on the machine after sundown. Within hours, the machine was spewing out flames and the roof got damaged. The smoke spread. The staff somehow managed to sneak into the compost room and put out the fire. Since then the machine, which comes loaded with promises of turning precious green waste into valuable compost, has been gathering dust in the community’s parking lot. (For more technical details on these machines, please read this post.) Continue reading

Community composting method-13: Got a tonne of kitchen waste? NeoAkruthi organic digester has the answer

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My own 2013 experiment using earthworms for kitchen waste composting turned out to be such a disaster that I decided to keep it limited only to garden waste. But when Bangalore-based Anil Kumar, MD, Akruthi Enviro Solutions Private Limited, told me that their organic waste digester uses earthworms to process even 500+ kgs of kitchen waste mixed with garden waste per day, I thought I was opening a new chapter in vermi-composting. Continue reading

Community composting method-12: A DIY model, the Brigade Regency style

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My connection with Brigade Regency (BR), an apartment located in Malleswaram, is an organic one. This is where, as a tenant, I started segregating my household waste into six categories. Being one of the very few communities that took the garbage crisis seriously back in 2007-08, it went on to find holistic solutions for all streams of waste before “sustainability” became a much-abused word. Continue reading

Community composting: If it’s costlier & fancier, does it get better?

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One of my Solid Waste Round Table Management (SWMRT) colleagues told me about an apartment which is getting ready to spend up to Rs 45 lakhs on a certain method for its in situ wet waste composting. In other cases, some companies which have succeeded in installing their 24-hour composting machines in some apartments at the cost of up to Rs 20 lakhs or more are laughing all the way to the bank.

Should a residential community invest so much in composting alone? Continue reading

Do you want 90% freedom from landfill? Here’s a model

There are two ways to look at the landfill crisis in Bangalore (or any other city for that matter). Deal with it in the most sustainable manner possible (within the available means) at a personal level. Or, join in the chorus of the multitude which does not want to participate in this change but is ready to pursue erratic paths to pointless ends.

My own community—Sobha Althea-Azalea located in Yelahanka—was a model that ToI celebrated as one of the 15 ideas to emulate in its 2014, August 15th edition. Continue reading

Community composting method-11: This fantastic DIY at Rainbow Drive is low on cost, high on delivery

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Would you ever believe that all the problems surrounding your wet and garden waste can be solved using steel mesh rings, a few cement slabs and some gunny sacks and also bring out loads of nice-smelling compost?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Continue reading

Community composting method-10: This steel bins system can work a treat on your terrace

Cassia block of Brigade Millennium in J P Nagar has its own unique steel bins system which has been producing one tonne of compost each month.

Cassia block of Brigade Millennium in J P Nagar has its own unique steel bins system which has been producing one tonne of compost each month.

Bangalore’s roads run like tedious arguments. I had to meander my way around one such ‘argument’ recently by hitting the road at 7 am in Yelahanka to study a community composting method in an apartment located in J P Nagar.

Cassia Block is just like any other nestling in this mammoth condominium called Brigade Millennium. But it stands apart for its high eco quotient nurtured by its all-woman management committee. They have a very good waste and water management system in place and in fact, the residents have stepped out of their threshold, cleaned up a spot just out of their periphery, planted a line of trees and have even set aside some space for vermi-composting right there.

Now, that definitely sets the tone for this write-up, doesn’t it? Continue reading

Community composting method-9: This cement tank system handles large quantities of food waste

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The Saahas team led by Supervisor Narayana Swamy (left) turns tonnes of kitchen and dry waste into organic manure at BIEC, Tumkur Road. These high-capacity cement tanks make their job easy.

Turning quintals of food waste coming out of three huge exhibition halls and fallen dry leaves swept up from a humungous campus spread over 36 acres into organic manure is no silly task. Interestingly, all of it gets absorbed efficiently by a simple composting system designed and managed by Saahas Zero Waste Solutions at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC), Tumkur Road. Continue reading

Community composting method-8: Barrel Digester from Sudh-Labh is a big plus for small communities

Five Barrel digesters being installed at Mars Meadows, Rajarajeshwari Nagar. This apartment has 55 homes.

Five Barrel Digesters being installed at Mars Meadows, Rajarajeshwari Nagar. This apartment has 55 homes.

We have quite a few individual home composting and also several large-scale composting solutions available in the market. But large bulk generators with 50 homes or above grabbed the focus of most of the emerging eco-innovators thus far, leaving the small apartment segment with 10-15 homes, or fewer, crying for attention.

In general, large complexes have many advantages stacked in their favour—mainly financial leeway to an extent and space set aside for processing waste. If not, they can carve out a corner on the terrace or basement to get going. I have seen this happening in several communities. Continue reading

Community composting method-7: Marigold composter for an efficient solar solution

Marigol solar composter from Prudent Eco Systems, Bengaluru.

Marigol solar composters designed by Prudent Eco Systems, Bengaluru.

With 300 sun-blessed days in a year, any solar solution makes absolute sense in India, doesn’t it? When it comes to community composting, how about a composter that relies only on sunlight to get things going?

Marigold solar composter is a brainchild of Bengaluru-based Ravindra Karnad, IIT-Kanpur, Prudent Eco Systems Private Limited. Continue reading

Fully automatic composting machines: Let the buyer beware

Just Google “fully automatic composting machines”, a number of companies making out-of-the-world claims pop up instantly. Among them, “composting in 24 hours” is the most common.

I have been approached by a few vendors in Bengaluru to write about their products as a community composting method. When I met them, each vendor made different claims although all of them ran on similar technology. Continue reading

Community composting method-6: This Tallboy from Rite-Ways can make a molehill out of a mountain

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Tallboy composting in progress at Esteem Classic, Rajajinagar.

If space is a major constraint in your community and all that you are left with is your basement or very little space out in the open, Tallboy from Rite-ways Enviro Private Limited, Bengaluru, can get you going instantly.

While I rate its vertical space utilisation the best of its features, speed of the process and simplicity of the method involving low labour are added advantages. What more, it gives you that lovely compost—utterly black and earthy! Continue reading

Community composting method-5: Sudh-Labh means low investment & Rs 6.15 monthly outgo per home for 100 units

Sudh-Labh aerobic digesterNo major infrastructure, no fancy paraphernalia and no high-sounding claims.

For my case study, the destination was Sovereign Park, Basavanagudi. It’s a 23-year old, 40-unit apartment which does efficient segregation at source. It has outsourced secondary processing of dry waste to Sudh-Labh. They chose the same firm to compost their wet waste sometime in August. Continue reading

Community composting method-3: Byobins, these two make a right pair!

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Paired up to perform: Two Byobins is all it takes to process wet waste from 30 houses.

Two unassuming bins sit in a corner without any posters, scary timetables or paraphernalia around them. No muttering of a shredder. No hustle and bustle of an army of workers either. A few perforated plastic crates filled with the compost taken out of these bins have earthworms going about their business without giving two hoots to what the city is getting all worked up about. Continue reading

Community composting method-2: Be it 15 kgs or 250 kgs, EcoDigester handles your kitchen waste aesthetically

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Here’s a solution that suits both small apartments and bulk generators like large-sized apartments, restaurants, schools, institutes, hospitals, school and corporate canteens. If you want a combined package of ease of use, aesthetics, zero operational costs and capital payback in a few years, go for EcoDigester. Continue reading

Community composting method-1: Platform composting, the simplest & the best

8Quite a few community composting methods have evolved over the last few years, but I thought of kicking off this series with my personal favourite: Platform composting. That’s because it’s the easiest, the simplest, the most cost-effective and a hassle-free aerobic solution to compost both your kitchen and garden waste. Continue reading

GOING ORGANIC-5: Choosing the right composting method for your community

Housekeepers sieving the compost prepared from kitchen waste.

Housekeepers sieving the compost prepared from kitchen waste.

There’s reams of data on the internet on various composting methods written quite beautifully by green enthusiasts worldwide. However, after wading my way through this maze of information and sending distress calls and emails to compost experts I have been in touch with, this is where it stood: It’s all theory until you do it yourself. The reason: Case studies offering crucial information on how to go about it at a community level, particularly in India, which can help you evolve contextually are few and far between. Continue reading