By Jamuna Rangachari December 2009 Daily dump, a creation of Bangalore-based Poonam Kasturi, enables everyone to make compost at home from household waste The dos and don’ts of compostingAn interview with the entrepreneurWhat is composting?Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that enriches soil. It is a process of recycling your kitchen and garden wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal.How old is the composting practice?It is as old as man. Some cultures practised it more than others. In recent times, its advantages have made it an important part of agricultural practice worldwide. It is gaining recognition as a safe method to regenerate the earth. In the natural world, composting is what happens as leaves pile up on the forest floor and begin to decay. Eventually, living roots reclaim nutrients from the rotting leaves. This completes nature’s recycling process.Are there different kinds of composting?Yes, there are three kinds of composting.• Aerobic composting (compostingwith air – in the presence of oxygen) Daily Dump uses this process.• Anaerobic composting (composting without air – in sealed spaces) • Vermicomposting (composting that is speeded up by earthworms)Is composting recycling?Yes, because compost is nature’s way of recycling nutrients.Is weather a factor?Yes, compost happens faster in warm weather. Our Indian weather is ideal for composting in most parts of the country. We just have to make sure that the moisture is right in places where it gets too hot and dry. Does composting reduce global warming?Yes, composting helps prevent global warming by reducing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is produced when organic waste decomposes when buried in landfill sites. How does composting benefit the earth?Research shows that harmful emissions are reduced if large volumes of organic waste are scientifically managed and converted to compost. The resultant compost is very rich in nutrients for the earth and replenishes top soil without adverse side-effects.Also, composting reduces the volume of waste that you throw out. After you convert your organic waste into compost, you can reuse the compost in your garden. There, the compost recycles nutrients back into the soil and plant life. Increased plant growth helps to restore the green cover of your neighbourhood. This way composting benefits the earth.Can compost replace petroleum-based fertilisers?Yes. Soil needs what compost’s life processes give: nutrients that release their nutrition gradually and in small doses over long periods of time.Synthetic fertilisers provide quick jolts of nutrition to the plant roots, but in the process, they stymie root development, while compost-enriched soils encourage healthy and abundant root development. Without the life processes that distinguishes composted soil from soil fertilised with synthetic ingredients, the skin of our planet will quickly die.DAILY DUMP PRODUCTSLeave-it PotThe Leave-It Pot is a versatile product that can be used as kitchen waste composters or to compost garden waste alone.UrliThe Urli is a multi-purpose container that can hold the composters or be used as a decorative garden / home accessory.KambhaThe Kambha manages medium volumes of kitchen and garden waste and fits into small spaces conveniently. The 3-tiered Kambha requires shifting of contents between the three modular units. The smell of earthy, organic manure is absolutely wonderful,” says Sukanya Ananth, who has been making compost for over two years in the urban environment of Bangalore. Like her, many customers vouch for the empowering experience that Daily Dump offers to the urbanite who often feels helpless at the sight of the reducing greenery on one side and his own inability to do something.This is exactly what Poonam Kasturi sought to address, with a dream that every Indian home composts its waste. Not one to stop at dreaming, she went on to research, studying the subject, and working out the design.When asked, “How did you come up with the design?” she says modestly “I did not find it, it found me. I was on the road asking various questions like most people, questions about how best to occupy one’s time, what real quality is, the difference between impact and transformation, and then Daily Dump happened.”Looking at the big picture, she thoughtfully adds, “Waste (like water, education, equity and dignity) belongs to all of us. We cannot abdicate responsibility only to the politicians, lobbyists, or big corporations. As our home waste is 50 to 70 per cent organic, keeping this off the streets can reduce the mess on the streets by 60 per cent.” Practical and realistic, she is convinced that while technology has its place, composting is a natural process that has been perfected by the universe. Composter Poonam Kasturi with the Mota Lota on the left, and the Kambha on the right
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