Environment

Helping authorities in waste management several households in Visakhapatnam take to home composting

Composting is an eco-friendly way of disposing wet waste

Composting is an eco-friendly way of disposing wet waste   | Photo Credit: weerapatkiatdumrong

Every evening, at the stroke of five, K Subbamma drops everything and rushes to her terrace where over 100 plants wait for her. “It is like a date where I meet them and talk to them about my day. I am sure they listen to me and recognise my voice,” she grins. She spends almost an hour tending to her plants, trimming, checking for infestations and watering them.

A resident of Shivajipalem area, Subbamma has been gardening for almost two decades now but she is excited at how her taking to composting has enhanced her gardening efforts. She thanks the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) for organising a home-composting session to encourage people to take it up.

K Subbamma showing her terrace garden, where she grows vegetables, flowers using compost prepared with kitchen wastes in home, at Shivajipalem in Visakhapatnam.
Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / The Hindu

K Subbamma showing her terrace garden, where she grows vegetables, flowers using compost prepared with kitchen wastes in home, at Shivajipalem in Visakhapatnam. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    “All these years, I used cow dung from a cattle shelter as manure. But these classes taught me that like humans, plants too require all kinds of nutrition that the cow dung alone cannot provide. From then on, I have started composting at home and I use the manure for my plants. I collect the dried leaves and flowers from the garden and add them to the compost. It took me two months to fill a 40 kilo bucket,” she says. GVMC has been encouraging home composting to reduce waste at source. Since 2019, GVMC has tied up with several Self-Help Groups to promote and conduct workshops regarding home compositing in several localities. Since then nearly 30,000 households in the city have taken to home composting . According to Punyavathi, coordinator of one of the Self-Help Groups “Over 400 households are composting in Shivajipalem alone. We conduct at least two workshops there every month. Those who have started practising home composting are now helping us in conducting these workshops and volunteer to help other women set up terrace gardens. There are several households which do not have a garden, yet they home compost. They sell their manure to nearby nurseries,” she says.

    Subbamma swears there is a change for the better in her plants. “They look healthier and are yielding more flowers. Even the fruits seem juicer than before,” she adds.

    Just a few blocks away from Subbamma lives V Vijayalakshmi. She has hardly sent out any wet waste to the government-operated garbage pick-up trucks. Most of the waste from her kitchen is carefully preserved and added to a bucket in where it decomposes. She is proud of her garden with its flowering plants and brinjal, carrots, tomatoes and gongura plants.

    Homemaker V. Vijaya Lakshmi showing the vegetables grown in her garden.
Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / The Hindu

    Homemaker V. Vijaya Lakshmi showing the vegetables grown in her garden. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    While she started by learning aboutcomposting through YouTube, not all that she saw there necessarily worked for her. “At the GVMC workshops, I learnt that I did not need any fancy equipment. All I needed was an old flower pot or a cauldron punched with holes ,” she says. Composting relieves the burden on landfills and rejuvenates and nourishes the soil. Often however, the fear of a stink or a worm infestation holds people off from composting the waste at home. Vijayalakshmi has a way out for this. “Curd or sour buttermilk is known for accelerating the composting process. Adding them in between the layers of your pre-compost pile can help to introduce the correct bacteria to kickstart the process. It also keeps the unwanted pests away ,” she says. Vijayalakshmi shares several such useful tips during her classes.

    According to Project Director, UCD, GVMC, Y Srinivas Rao, “Before we launched this programme hardly 400 houses practised composting. There are now over 30,000 households doing it. This will definitely reduce the pressure on the landfills. We are also encouraging recycling and reusing. Those interested in attending these composting workshops, can reach out to the coordinators of SHGs functioning in their area.”

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    Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 5:49:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/helping-authorities-in-waste-management-several-households-in-visakhapatnam-take-to-home-composting/article31059134.ece

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