Composting is simply the process of breaking down the organic matter (food waste) in the presence of air and water, using micro organisms 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:
1. Carbon that comes from brown organic matter like dried leaves, sawdust, paper
2. Nitrogen that comes from fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds
3. Oxygen which comes from air
4. Water in the right amounts
Landfills are not the ideal environment to create compost, since food waste is made toxic by the plastic and metal waste. Further waste gets piled up everyday like a mountain and the layers below are cut off from oxygen
6.5 easy steps to compost your kitchen waste
1. Separate your edible kitchen waste (vegetable peels, fruit peels, small amounts of wasted cooked food) in a container
2. Collect dry organic matter (dried leaves, sawdust) in a small container
3. Take a large earthen pot or a bucket and drill 4 – 5 holes around the container at different levels to let air inside.
4. Line the bottom with a layer of soil.
5. Now start adding food waste in layers alternating wet waste (food scraps, vegetable and fruit peels) with dry waste (straw, sawdust, dried leaves).
6. 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. There are also readymade composting kits available for those who want to overcome initial resistance to starting composting.
With time and a little patience, composting will become second nature to you.
By segregating, recycling and composting, a family of 4 can reduce their waste from 1000 Kg to less than 100 kg every year. Imagine 90% of all the garbage in Chennai vanishing overnight and a clean, green city- it will help you start your composting journey