Photo Feature | Self-managing waste is no rocket science

Garbage bags are stacking up in our homes, neighborhoods and streets, and Kathmandu’s waste collectors have gone AWOL. Rapper-turned-mayor Balen Shah is not getting any kudos from his voters, that’s for sure. After all, solving the city’s perennial solid waste problem was one of his top election agendas. Whatever happened to segregating household waste?

But wait, we can’t wash our hands of this mess just yet. 

Apparently, there is one solid way to manage solid waste. It’s called vermi-composting or worm-composting, a fairly simple and inexpensive way of turning biodegradable waste into organic manure that you can use on your vegetable patch or garden.

Kanchha Maharjan has been doing just this. At his Swayambhu house, he has set up a small vermi-composting space that provides all the nutrients for his rooftop vegetable garden and house plants and flowers.       

Maharjan, who started this pursuit to keep himself busy post-retirement, has become something of an expert in vermi-composting. “You don’t need any expertise for this,” he says. “All it takes is a small space to grow earthworms [vermiculture].” 

He explains that vermicomposting is natural decomposition of organic wastes but in a controlled environment. And all it requires is soil, cow-dung, earthworms, water and organic waste. Most of the work is done by the worms—and mother nature.

Thanks to Maharjan’s pursuit, his family does not have the problem of garbage bags piling up at their home. In fact, he has turned vermicomposting into a business. He sells the organic fertilizer for Rs 50 a kg and the earthworms and their eggs for Rs 3,000 per kg. 

Some way to turn waste into money! Besides vermicomposting, he also practices rainwater harvesting to water the vegetables, plants and flowers. He has set up a large copper tank to collect rainwater that he filters using bleaching powder and other traditional methods. Maharjan and his family have a sustainable household—something we should all aspire to. 


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