Things We Love: DIRT (No, Really!)
By Els Reynaers
Let’s get down and dirty.
Or DIRT-y, to be precise. DIRT is the latest thing to love, and while unfortunately it’s only in Mumbai right now, I have hopes of seeing similar projects pop up in other metros in the future.
The DIRT shop, which sells quirky furnishings made from upcycled plastic and glass bottles, is run by Natasha D’Costa. But more than its unusual lamps and planters, we love it for the composting project it runs. A sign in the shop proudly proclaims: “DIRT has been started to prove that dirt is valuable. At DIRT, we convert today’s waste into compost to give you tomorrow’s meal.”
The DIRT team, led by D’Costa, helps set up composting initiatives around the city. Composting serves several purposes: It helps minimize total waste generation (which often is sent in an unsegregated manner to municipal grounds to be burned) and it creates rich dirt that can be used to nourish plants and trees.
There are a couple of options: the single-family type of composter, which you can install in one flat; the joint-composting bin, which works for about four or more families; and large-scale compost bin for medium-to-large building societies. For me and several other families in my building, the joint-bin was the best option and most cost-effective once we all chipped in. (It’s Rs.10,000 for the joint option, which consists of two large bins.) Now, we all empty our food-related waste (i.e. veg, non-veg, cooked, raw vegetable and fruit peels, bread, egg shells, and even paper napkins, cardboard, etc) into these bins that merely need to be rotated twice a day for air to penetrate them and hasten the process of decomposition. After 25-35 days, DIRT says, we’ll have two bins full of dirt that can be used to fertilize the plants around our complex.
The best part is that D’Costa gives an initial lecture to anyone interested in order to introduce the not-yet-common concept of composting; she then makes it a point to offer a weekly follow-up to ensure that implementation runs smoothly and that any additional questions can be addressed. Moreover, she’s been meeting with the man who picks up the household waste of my building to explain to him how the process works.
We’re all looking forward to that initial bin full of dirt, and we’re not the only ones: Our mali has been briefed and is very excited about the compost he’ll be able to use for all the plants in and around our building!