They call her the compostwali for good reason. She is the one responsible for keeping off 12,622 kilograms of waste from landfills every day – at last count. Using design innovation and craft skills to address the garbage issue, Poonam Bir Kasturi has made home composting a habit for thousands of people in India and elsewhere, all the way to Chile.
“Inaction is just not an option,” she says. Researchers say that the world will generate more than six million tonnes of solid waste a day by 2025. That’s enough to fill a line of garbage trucks 5,000 kilometres long every day.
“It is definitely easier to throw the waste out. But if you can convert it to useful and fertile ‘stench-free’ compost without much hassle, why not?” That was her take when she created a home-composting solution, which would reduce one’s daily garbage by 80%, seven years ago. Poonam’s startup, Daily Dump – Compost at Home, are pioneers in home and community composting solutions that are designed with our behaviour and culture in mind. Their array of aesthetically appealing terracota composters make composting at home not ony hygienic and odour-free, but convenient and fun too.
This product-service system is on an open-source platform, and has spawned several clones – 12 in India, and 2 abroad. They have been encouraging clones in as many places as possible by providing free technical knowledge and drawings of their terracotta composters. “This is the only way we can address the garbage issue. Like there are many bakeries, eateries, dhobis, tailors we want many people propagating composting at source in each city,” Poonam explained to YourStory.
Is it for me?
Any organic matter, including cooked waste food, can be converted to compost. We all know how good it is for the environment, but most of us do not think of home-composting as a viable option. That is because of lack of time, space and awareness. But what if it had been easier to to do? Many of us would gladly help reduce urban waste problems. Daily Dump’s solutions were designed keeping such people in mind.
It involves very little looking-after and it is easy to build into your routine – whether you live in a small apartment or a rooftop home. Once you’re set up, you need to spend only 5 minutes daily to manage your organic waste. If you get your segregation containers sorted out – it’s just a task of dumping and adding Remix Powder (available at the Daily Dump store offline or online). Training your domestic help makes it simpler still. And if even that is not possible – just sign up for a Daily Dump service plan and they will handle maintenance completely.
Is it hygienic?
Done right, it is. Most of the creatures that you see that appear during the process are harmless; in fact they are very good for the environment. You needn’t fear rats either as the product is designed to protect the composting matter from pests. “If you have had a party where you have a lot of leftovers – too much meat, fat or large amounts of protein food like cheese — just make sure you dump it deep inside and cover it up with a lot of Remix Powder,” Poonam says.
If you don’t have a garden or plants in pots to feed compost to, you can feed it to the tree by the road – you’ll be feeding the earth. Besides, throwing out nutrient rich material is far better than dumping toxic material. And if you produce a lot of compost, Daily Dump will buy it back from you.
Poonam is a TED Fellow and an idealist through and through – but with feet firmly planted on the ground. Her parents, she says, encouraged her “to live dangerously” and her school – National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad – gave her “a brand new lens to look at the world with”. She worked in the manufacturing industry, crafts, and the education sector, before dabbling in entrepreneurship.
In the early 90s, she founded IndusTree Crafts, which works with craftspeople to design, manufacture and retail/ export Indian crafts. She was one of the founding faculties at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. All that experience taught her different aspects of problem-solving, the vital one being “the ability to locate the need”.
So you want to make waste useful? Log on to www.dailydump.org or call +91 9916426661