When living things die, their bodies decompose on their own. Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost). Compost gives a rich quality of the soil. It also improves its fertility, drainage and water-holding capacity. Any natural thing can be used to make compost. To cite some examples, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, paper, cloth, eggshells, etc. The common things used to make compost comes from the kitchen, which are fruit and vegetable scraps as well as leftovers of meat and fish.
Once this natural matter is put in a wide ditch dug in the backyard of your house, it will slowly start to decompose and grow smaller in size. Hence, it can be done anywhere, irrespective of space constraints. Those staying in residential societies and apartments can do so collectively in their society's compound or garden area. Nature will do the hard work of breaking down the organic matter and turning it into a vibrant compost.
There are different types of composting like bin composting, open composting, hot and cold composting, vermicomposting, etc. The most common and popular type of compost is ditch or pit composting. For pit composting, holes or trenches are dug to bury the waste. After that, one needs to wait, while the organic materials gradually break down over a period of six months to a year. This method is effective for those who want their decomposing organic matter to be completely out of sight. Composting conditions might require intervention or the creation of the same by adding components or creating an environment with the right temperature, smell, texture and pressure. Once the compost is ready, the seeds can be then sown and a beautiful garden can be grown. A variety of flowers, fruit trees and bamboo shoots can be planted.
The merits of pit composting are as follows:
- Materials are out of sight.
- No turning is necessary.
- Holds as much organic matter as one has.
- Even if it is not possible for some people to do composting in their houses or in highly crowded areas, then the same can be done at the dumping grounds or landfills.
- If one buys a 100% compostable and eco-friendly sanitary pad, it can help to reduce the pollution due to plastic waste and the problem of manual scavengers.
- In addition, if composting and gardening is done at the community or Governmental level, it will create more employment opportunities for the local population.
- Pit composting can be sited where one plans to make a new planting bed or garden.
- Organic farming makes use of organic waste and compost for yielding good quality crops.
- Landscape gardeners can camouflage the materials from view with a skillful garden design. Such gardens made from compost have a great aesthetic value.
The points to remember for doing pit composting:
- This method takes 6 months to one year to break down organic matter.
- Cannot do hot composting.
- Cannot harvest the compost.
- This method comes at a low cost, but requires extra labour for digging.
- Cannot do in an extremely small space like a balcony or window (indoors), open garden space is required.
- In the landfill, it takes longer for sanitary pads to decompose as they will be mixed with other waste and plastic. Hence, home-composting is always preferred.
- A lot of patience is needed to do composting, it is surely not an instant thing!
Every year, thousands of kilograms of household waste are burned or dumped in dumping grounds or at times in drains and other water bodies, which requires years to decompose. Segregation of waste and turning organic household waste into compost can prevent our drainage system from choking and can save the planet from dying. Let us use biodegradable materials and segregate waste, which will help to save the environment from biomedical hazards. Students, scientists, NGOs, environmentalists, the media and doctors can collectively spread awareness amongst consumers to buy eco-friendly products.
We at Saathi are doing some composting ourselves. Do read about our composting experiences on our blog and watch our video on 73 questions on #composting. Consumers need to be aware of the products that they buy, especially the consequences of buying non-biodegradable products on the environment. The choice is yours.
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