Waste to Wonder

We live in a consumerist society which is growing at an unsustainable pace due to the pressures it creates on the finite resources of our planet. Increased waste (be it organic or inorganic waste) is a key impact of such living. As a nature and plant lover I often wondered as to how I could manage and reduce the waste that my family and I were generating. Improperly disposed waste not only harms the environment but also adversely impacts the fertility of soil and pollutes ground water.

A couple of years back while teaching environment studies to my grand-daughter, I realized that a good way to deal with the waste problem was to switch to garden waste management. Garden waste management  has a two pronged benefit; it keeps the surroundings clean and preserves the environment. In the usual course of events, garden waste such as leaves, bark, twigs, branches etc. are dumped into landfills. This not only ends up harming the environment by producing greenhouse gases and polluting ground water, but also breaks the carbon cycle chain. On the other hand, composting of garden and kitchen organic waste turns it into a nutrient rich food for plants and rejuvenates spent soil. Composting is a very simple technique that puts mother nature to work. The organic waste is put in a pit covered with soil for months until it is decomposed by microbes. If you don’t have land, then composting can be done in plastic drums, earthen pots, baskets, buckets or in matkaas.

The method is certainly time consuming but it is worth the wait as it improves soil quality drastically.

Another trick that I have up my sleeve to manage kitchen waste is using left over peels and rotten fruits to convert them into bioenzymes which can be used as cleaners. Below is an easy bioenzyme making technique:

What you need

  1. Jaggery (Gud) or Black Strap Molasses – 1 portion
  2. Citrus peels (dried or fresh) / rotten fruits (Orange, Sweet lime, Lemon) – 3 portions.

Whilst you can also use papaya peels, grapes, banana peels and pineapple peels as well, do note that the resulting bioenzyme may not be as pleasant as the citrus bioenzyme for cleaning. That said, it can be used as a liquid fertilizer for your plants after dilution.[1] This bioenzyme can also be made out of green chilli, rose petals, neem leaves and marigold flowers. Bioenzyme of rose petals can be used as a room freshener, and bioenzyme made out of green chilli, neem leaves and marigold can be used as a pesticide.

  1. Water – 10 portions
  2. Quarter (1/4) teaspoon dry yeast (optional)

Preparing Bioenzyme

That’s super easy, just add everything together in 1:3:10 ratio of Jaggery: Citrus peels: water.

Put all of the above in a used bottle (old plastic bottles are fine too) and seal the cap. Then let this mixture ferment for one month in the shade and anaerobic conditions (make sure to release the gas every alternate day for a month).

Do note if you don’t want to use yeast or don’t have access to yeast then the bioenzyme will be ready in 3 months.

Using the  Bioenzyme

Bioenzyme can be used as a fertiliser in a dilution of 1 : 50 for direct watering and in the ratio of 1 : 100  as a foliar spray.

Use it just like any market bought liquid cleanser (toilet cleaner as well). Trust me you will love the results, I have found this enzyme to be a more effective cleaner than market bought soaps.

With increased awareness of waste, all of us have indeed reduced buying plastic, but never the less one cannot completely avoid plastic. Therefore, it is important to think of ways of re-using and repurposing plastic articles before discarding. Some ways of reusing plastic waste is by growing plants in empty milk packets. Old tyres can be used as plant baskets. Oil cans and other plastic containers can be turned into beautiful pots for plants – for instance these can be cut with a heated knife in different shapes such as ducks and swans.

These are some very simple ways that can be used to create waste into wonder and reduce the burden on our landfills.