Source: Integrated Waste Resources
Pretty impressive to lead the charts, right? But at the cost of what?! Our country alone generates 1.43 lakh tonne wastes per day. We have moved from houses to skyrise buildings due to paucity of space, so where do you think all this or most of this 1.43 lakh tones of waste goes? Landfills! Public garbage dump, incineration! And the after effects range from infertile land, communicable diseases to poisonous gases in the atmosphere. The problem of waste management is so huge that it has now turned into an industry with only a handful of players taking it upon themselves to solve the problem. Not as competitors, but working hand in hand.
Source: Hindustan Times
Firdosh Roowalla- The King Of Composting
I first learnt of Firdosh Roowalla through an article published in 2015 in Sakaal Times. The article talked about an entrepreneur in Pune who converted the old school concept of waste degradation into a simple soil nutrient production system. I decided to reach out to him. After a quick phone call, Firdosh immediately liked the idea of a story based on him and was kind enough to take some time out for me on a busy Monday morning.
As a Puneite, anyone living in the Koregaon Park – Kalyani Nagar area is considered to be affluent in living and conduct, with their prosperity showing off at every syllable they utter and every step they take. But this perception was belied when I met Firdosh, waiting for me at the gate of Kumar Presidency in Koregaon Park.
Dressed in a simple shirt, jeans, and pair of chappals with a plastic bag in hand, Firdosh is every bit an environmentalist and a social entrepreneur. No jazzy clothes, no swanky electronics, this humble man is warm and welcoming to anyone who comes to him seeking knowledge about his craft. There is a sense of stability and control in his gait and yet he doesn’t mince words while expressing his disagreement on the way people handle waste.
Firdosh Roowala at one of his sites
Firdosh Roowalla, founder of the Green Thumb Compost, gets upset seeing our environment getting buried in the increasing pile of waste. A nature lover at heart and a green thumb too, Firdosh blended his passions to start his organization. Here’s the story of his journey so far:
Firdosh’s Organization deals with degrading kitchen and garden waste into soil nutrient compost. Every composting unit has 2 types of installations – the kitchen waste composting and the garden waste composting. As simple as it may sound, the safety concerns in this process are many.
Every time the waste is put into pits for composting, dry leaves are used to cover the pits. These dry leaves are first shredded using the shredder designed by Firdosh. Once the compost is formed it is sieved and introduced to the soil before plantation.
Compost before sieving
Firdosh and his employees face safety hazards, not from working in the composting pits but from the waste that is disposed.
“Waste is a problem because people are refusing to segregate”
Lack of segregation is the root cause of the increasing municipal solid waste. Segregation at source is not properly carried out, leading to non-degradable wastes being dumped into landfills, ultimately degrading the land quality. This stems from the attitude of people who find it below their dignity to segregate the waste in their houses. This problem can be well addressed if reselling items like glass bottles, metals, and plastic pet bottles are separated. These also fetch a good market price when resold.
“Many types of waste like wine bottles, pet bottles, aluminum fetch good market value. If segregation is done properly, coupled with recycling, then only 10-20% of the total waste will go to the municipal solid waste.”
How Can People Contribute To Managing Waste?
“Most of the waste is not waste at all. Overconsumerism – the attitude that I can buy and throw – is a problem. I have received good dry fruits, whole watermelons, mangoes in waste”
Waste management is all about 3 Rs – You reduce, reuse and recycle.
People are directly jumping to the recycle part. The ideal amount of kitchen waste per family is supposed
to be upto 500 gms per day. Today it crosses 1 kg and a lot of it is not waste in the first place.
Waste management is not something that is confined to landfills or the city recycling plants. It needs to start right from our houses. People at large need to understand what exactly is considered as waste. Not everything that doesn’t look perfect is a waste. Food wastage is a burning problem around the world.
The problem of waste can be easily solved, if we start today with simple things like…. say, keeping separate dustbins for kitchen waste and dry waste? Sounds pretty simple! It might just lend a hand to green warriors like Firdosh in keeping our environment safe and clean.