Something as simple as segregating your waste at source and composting organic waste, can help save the planet. Monisha Narke is on a mission to show people how.
“What does sustainability mean? It means leaving behind a world that has resources to support future generations. We need to start living sustainably so that our children, and their children, don’t end up suffering because of us,” says Monisha Narke, a resident of Mumbai.
This is the thought that prompted her to make visible changes in her life when it came to managing her household waste. Over time, her passion project grew into something bigger. In 2009, the Ivy League graduate established RUR GreenLife, a social environmental enterprise that works on sustainable and decentralised waste management solutions.
Monisha’s inspiring journey is featured in Season 4 of 101 India x MG Changemakers, an initiative that brings stories of inspiring women who are torchbearers of change in their communities. The latest season focuses on stories advocating for the sustainable development of communities.
A megacity like Mumbai generates around 7,025 tonnes of waste every single day. This is not including the amount of waste that the city’s informal waste pickers segregate and sell to scrap dealers and recyclers. That is a lot of waste getting dumped in a city that is short on space for even the people living in it.
Moreover, a report has found that a whopping 72.6 per cent of the waste going into the city’s landfills are made up of food waste. Despite the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s mandate to segregate and treat wet waste at source, this food waste makes its way into the city’s already choking landfills and exacerbates the situation.
“When we started raising awareness among citizens, we noticed that while there was a lot of enthusiasm about saving the planet, very few were actually acting on it. But we have to act to make a difference. Why were people in urban areas not able to manage their waste? Everyone had different reasons, from shortage of time to limitations of space,” says Monisha.
She adds, “I realised, then, that there was a gap that needed to be filled. And I found that technology could solve most of these problems. So we developed a product that would make composting easy.” Today, thanks to that product — the RUR Green Gold Aerobic composter — 750 tons of kitchen waste is getting converted into precious compost through 250 community composting projects.
Composting organic waste not only solves the issue of waste management, but it also addresses the ever-growing threat of food security.
Topsoil, the uppermost layer of soil, is one of the most crucial components of our food system — 95% of the world’s food is grown in it. But close to half of our topsoil has disappeared in the last 150 years, due to intensive agricultural practices and a rising population. Improving soil health is paramount to our survival.
“Our future generations should have access to healthy, nutritious food. And this won’t happen if we don’t replenish the soil we grow our food in. Using organic compost is a great way to put those much-needed nutrients back into the soil,” says Monisha.
According to her, being sustainable has a ripple effect. Once people saw how Monisha’s efforts were paying off, they joined in with segregating and composting their waste. Today, her apartment complex has its own kitchen gardens on the terraces. They have also started other environmentally friendly projects, including rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation.
“Our aim has been to focus on educating citizens around us to adopt green living. We want to create eco-conscious citizens, because I truly believe that change starts with each one of us.”
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Written By: Shraddha Uchil