Do you yearn for the fragrance of the forest or miss petrichor wafting through your window after the first rains? Well, here’s how you can make your own heaven. This simple method will enable you to make your own compost with the food that is wasted or left over in your kitchen in a little over a few weeks. But most importantly, this black gold can contribute towards making soils healthier and our food safer! And help in ensuring we have a cleaner city too!


Here’s what you need!

  • A box-like container with two lids – one for the top and the other that can be used as a base for the bottom. This should be made from ceramic, terracotta or plastic.
  • Food scraps – paper, tea bags, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peels, paper/tissues, coffee filters and grounds, dried leaves
  • {What not to use: Meat, bones, dairy, pet feces, chemicals, plastic, any form of citrus, masalas, spicy and oily leftovers)
  • Paper – like newspaper, which is uncoated with thin sheets of plastic!
  • Water
  • Earthworms – remember, these are your gardeners and selfless elves!

Step 1: Preparing the container!
Once you have gathered all the material, prepare the container and ensure there are holes in the top lid (for ventilation) and at the bottom of the container (for any drainage)

Step 2: Preparing the paper!
Shred the newspaper into one inch strips – or any paper that does not have a coating.
Soak the paper in water to ensure it has soaked water but is not dripping – like a sponge.(You can also use a bit of wet cardboard, coconut husk.)

Step 3: Fill a third of the container with the soaked paper mixed with soaked coconut husk and cardboard.

Step 4: Out come the worms! And the food too…

  • Out come the worms. Time to sprinkle some old compost or soil onto the newspaper bedding.
  • Now sprinkle the worms over this.
  • Gently add food scraps over this and watch the magic unfold!
  • Keep adding food scraps on a regular basis. And make sure you have someone look after this set up if you plan to travel, otherwise you will have to start from scratch.

You will need at least a kilogramme of worms per square foot.
Earthworms eat a lot! In fact, they eat about half their body weight in a single day. Make sure you don’t starve them.
Ensure your composting setup is kept moist. Not too wet or else the worms will drown, not too dry – that will make the worms shrivel up. Earthworms are delicate and need to be looked after. Basically, try not to kill them.
Cut up bigger chunks of food and big leaves – easier for the earthworms to breakdown.
After about 3 months, you will have rich black gold!

What else?
As you start doing this regularly, you will realise that you are throwing away less garbage everyday. In fact, as an Indian you will reduce your ‘waste’ size by almost 60 percent! Your dry waste can be sold off to a raddiwallah or given away to a Dry Waste Collection Centre (DWCC) in your ward if you are in Bangalore. If you do it at an apartment level you can earn a fancy sum of money every month that could help with the maintenance of your apartment in turn. You have only 5-7% garbage that actually has no use and needs to be scientifically landfilled! While doing all this, compost sequesters carbon dioxide. Compost when added to the soil adds soil organic matter and ensures soil health goes up!

What next?
If you have a backyard, or a front yard or even a small balcony, grow food using your compost. You’ll see it’s possible to grow all kinds of vegetables without any agrochemicals!

Tell your friend! Family, friends, neighbours… we need everyone!

If you can’t, support Greenpeace India’s Waste To Food campaign so that we can ensure all of this compost is collected and channelised for use in agriculture!

Let’s collectively work towards contributing towards improving soil health and thereby food safety!

 Shivani Shah is the Senior Campaigner for Food for Life in Greenpeace India