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Theme Report Jan 2022- Carbon Neutrality

by Aaditya Singh | 19-01-2022 03:00 recommendations 0

A small effort towards carbon neutrality by household upcycling of organic waste

 

Through this topic, I want to introduce to the new readers of this forum, a project that I had conceptualised and carried out with my friends, a few years ago. We collected and upcycled household waste and managed to save a significant amount from going to the landfill, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of our food intake. The project is described below.

 

The Power of Small Scale Upcycling of Household Organic Waste

 

AIM: To survey a cross section of urban society to explore prevalent practices in management of organic household wastes; to study through community engagement, the feasibility and methods of upcycling of such waste at source itself; to assess these methods on scientific principles and improvise on them; and finally share the insight thus gained- with the community, to raise awareness and thereby reduce the amount of organic wastes in landfills, thus contributing to a carbon neutral future.

 

BACKGROUND: Organic wastes contribute 50 to 60% of the total waste. Methane generated due to anaerobic decomposition of organic wastes in landfills is a highly potent GHG. Recycling of non-biodegradable wastes being a lucrative business in India, to some extent, keeps these materials away from landfills. However, utilizing organic waste as a potential resource, demands efforts at a macro level, something that is not currently being done at a large scale.

 

OBJECTIVE: To explore simple ‘DIY’ methods of upcycling organic waste in urban areas (apartments/small homes, where composting or other options are not viable); study and scientifically test the effectiveness of such processes; improve on them and promote these ideas as avenues of saving and/or earning money. Thereby encouraging people to adopt such practices, the problem can be tackled at a micro level, ultimately minimising the organic waste that reaches the landfills. This way, we also hoped to contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of our daily lives.

 

PROJECT PLAN: Waste is not waste till it is wasted; and this holds good for organic waste more than anything else. Following ideas illustrate simple upcycling of household organic waste:

·    Fruit/vegetable peels can be sun dried or dehydrated and powdered; or leached in water. These can be used as healthy herbal teas, in soups, curries, breads and cakes for extra flavour & nutrition, to nourish potted plants, as skincare/haircare products.

·    Leftover fruit/vegetable pulp after juicing can be similarly used in baked items or dishes, to thicken and to boost nutrient density. It can also be dehydrated and powdered to be stored and used when needed, to add the much-needed dietary fibre to our food, or nutrition to plants or in skincare recipes of homemade scrubs, masks and soaps.

·    Daily kitchen throwaways can also be used as organic fertilizers to enrich soil. For instance, coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen. Crushed eggshells can provide proteins. Banana peels are packed with potassium. The list is endless. The effect of these on growth of plants can be studied to assess the efficacy of these facts.

·    Cut off heads/parts of many plants like celery, onion, carrots, potato, ginger etc. can be used to propagate the plants again. This can be tested practically to grow plants.

There are innumerable more ways to use household organic waste. We aimed to establish a database, improved after trying and testing the best options of upcycling organic waste, based our survey and community engagement. We started with households and also tried to expand our survey to cafeterias and supermarkets. The results and the homemade DIY products thus made, were shared with the survey group and the community in general, to promote such practices, create awareness and encourage action in this regard; to contribute to shrinking of the volume of organic wastes in our over-growing landfills; and possibly promote the idea of such waste being considered a resource.

 

PROJECT EXECUTION: Our team surveyed a cross section of urban society. We explored prevalent practices in organic household waste management and studied the feasibility of small scale upcycling of such waste at source. Subsequently, we concluded with a research and application based database of simple 'DIY' methods to upcycle organic waste at source. We used our upcyled products in:

 

·     ·   Garden (making Compost, Organic NPK Growing plants from waste/ throwaway plants/plant parts)

·      ·    Kitchen (As food ingredient, to boost nutrition value/thickness)

·      ·    Household (Making Cosmetic/Haircare products, candles)

 

We scientifically assessed our methods of upcycling and creating repurposed foods, and improvised on them, eventually upcycling 250gm organic waste per capita per day. We shared our project outcomes with the community (insight gained, products made), to promote these ideas as avenues of generating “Wealth from Waste” by treating waste as cheap readily available resource and to suggest upcycling left-over raw food waste into low cost food, towards a zero hunger world. Our project thus worked as an advantage on multiple fronts. Thereby encouraging people to adopt such practices, food waste can be repurposed while at the same time GHG problem can be tackled at a micro level, ultimately also minimising the organic waste in landfills and thus contributing to carbon neutrality.

 

CONCLUSION: While governments strive to tackle the issue of growing landfills, GHGs and carbon footprint at a macro level, my project targets individuals and focuses on micro- grass root level, seeking practical and effective solutions, yet simple enough to be implemented by students and the common man towards reducing the carbon footprint of our daily lives.

 

I had shared this project in details on the Tunza Ecogen platform some years ago. I am sharing below the links to those reports again for any members wishing to go through the project in detail.

 

Report 1/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43052

 

Report 2/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43053

 

Report 3/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43054

 

Report 4/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43055

 

Report 5/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43056

 

Report 6/6

https://tunza.eco-generation.org/ambassadorReportView.jsp?viewID=43057

 

AadityaSingh

  • Canada E-gen Ambassador Aaditya Singh
 
 

3 Comments

Joon Mentor

  • Joon Mentor says :
    Hello Aaditya, this is your mentor Joon.

    Small efforts might not make huge difference, but it can surely make big difference. All the big differences combined, it may leverage the impact and lead to huge one. Following your steps, I guess many different people around the world could make similar result if one is devoted enough. Hope people read through your reports and follow what you have done to spread impact around their neighborhood.

    Well read your article, and let's keep up.

    Best,

    Joon
    Posted 24-01-2022 10:08

Hannah Mentor

  • Hannah Mentor says :
    Hello Aaditya, this is your mentor Hannah.

    What a great project you've gone through, you went ahead of us!
    I think this method of upcycling household organic wastes surely does retrieve carbon footprints of individuals.

    Thank you for your great article and please keep up with your wonderful work :)

    Sincerly,
    Hannah

    Posted 23-01-2022 17:02

Vivian Nabisere

  • Vivian Nabisere says :
    Thanks Aaditya for sharing 💚
    Posted 23-01-2022 00:26

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