Trashonomics SWM Chapter 3 – ORGANIC WASTE


Trashonomics Chapter 3 – Organic
Waste In Chapter 2, you have learned what is organic waste. In this chapter get to know how we can convert organic waste into a valuable resource. Organic waste is material that can be recycled infinitely into either compost or biogas. When organic waste is fed into an anaerobic digester, the microorganisms
break down this waste and generate biogas. Biogas constitutes mainly of methane and carbon dioxide that can be used for cooking and other heating purposes. The slurry by-product from the biogas digester is rich in nutrients that can be fed back to the soil to grow healthy food. Unlike liquid petroleum gas or LPG, biogas is a clean and renewable fuel. Have you wondered how plants get their nutrition? If we throw a banana near the plant, how does the plant eat this banana? Composting is nature’s process of
breaking down organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil with the help of
worms and microorganisms. These nutrients in compost can then be easily absorbed by plants through the roots. Since we generate so much organic waste every single day, just throwing it away is not the solution as we saw in chapter one. We can compost this organic waste in our homes or communities. One method is aerobic composting when the organic matter is decomposed by microorganisms that need oxygen. What we need for this method is a container with holes for sufficient aeration. Organic waste. Crushed dry leaves or cocopeat – this is a source of carbon and also maintains moisture and aeration levels. Microorganisms to kick-start the process. Where can we get microbes that can breakdown organic waste? Yes, sour buttermilk because it’s got good
bacteria. Add a spoon of sour buttermilk. Microbial cocopeat is a source of microbes and carbon and hence can replace sour buttermilk and dry leaves. Repeat the process of adding organic waste and brown matter till the container is full. Stir the pile every four to five days to ensure good aeration. Not enough air can lead to a bad-smelling pile. Compost bin should be kept away from rain. In about 30 to 40 days you will know when the compost is ready when it starts to smell great and has turned into a dark brown soil. Anaerobic composting is a two-stage process that you can learn more about on
page 21. Vermicomposting is the process of
composting using various worms usually red wigglers and other earthworms. Organic matter is added to the compost bin for the worms to eat. The excrement
of these worms makes a compost rich in nutrients. On page 22 learn some fun
facts about the farmers’ friend, the earthworm. Did you know that cows can speed up the process of composting? There are several large scale organic waste processing solutions that each neighborhood within a city or town
should implement. Benefits to composting Just like when we humans eat nutritious
food to build up our immunity and reduce the need for medicines, adding
nutrient-rich compost for plants will reduce the need for synthetic pesticides
and fertilizers. Organic waste in a landfill emits greenhouse gases. Composting helps prevent this organic waste from reaching a landfill. There are several other benefits to composting that you can learn on page 23. Let’s move on to activities Activity 1 – DIY Aerobic Composting Keep ready a bucket of loose
microbial cocopeat or crushed dry leaves before the session. Have students get a day’s worth of organic waste that is mostly vegetable and fruit peels in a reusable container along with a cardboard or shoebox from home. Students need to poke holes in the cardboard box. Have them add a layer of cocopeat or
dry leaves alternating with organic waste. If not using microbial cocopeat, add a spoon of sour buttermilk. Students can take this DIY aerobic
compost box home and observe the process of composting. This activity will show students that with very little effort each one of us can manage 60% of our
waste which is organic by converting it into valuable compost. Activity Two – Start
an organic vegetable garden at school Mix one part soil and one part compost
in pots. Sow vegetable seeds like spinach or tomato. Have students water the plants
regularly and keep the pots in sufficient sunlight. The organic garden will educate children on safe food and the value of organic waste. Let’s move on to the next chapter to better understand recyclable waste management.

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