March 22, 2016

What do we do with the Daily Dump?

by Maanasi Hattangadi

“You are an ordinary Indian. You are tired of words, you want to contribute in a tangible, direct manner to the mess you see around you. You hear about Daily Dump. Hmmm, you say, it seems so simple, what took it so long to arrive? That’s what is hot about Daily Dump. It is so simple that anyone can do it!

From a larger perspective, the solutions emphasise that waste (like water, education, equity and dignity) belongs to “all of us” – we cannot abdicate responsibility only to the politicians, lobbyists, or big corporations. Our vision is to make a large impact through a large number of people in a way that is sustainable, dignified and is fun!” states a cogent comment by Poonam Bir Kasturi, the founder of Daily Dump and an alumnus of National Institute of Design.

What may appear to be a statement shedding perspective on its beginnings and the obvious, in reality, identifies a pressing concern, and more importantly, a call for commitment that delineates the space that Daily Dump currently occupies.

 

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Incepted in April 2006 by Poonam Bir Kasturi, Daily Dump is a design-led social enterprise under PBK Waste Solutions Pvt Ltd, to create simple tools, products and services for decentralised waste management for daily refuse produced, especially in homes.

Embedded in a diverse range of products and tool Daily Dump has to offer, is an ideological bias to sensitise and ‘help people reimagine their relationship with waste’. In its present structure, emerges a four-pronged generative approach: to instigate solutions for sustainable waste management actionable on various levels, education and services, a partnership open to replication or ‘cloning’ of the vocational model, and an appreciable connect to the traditional craft of pottery.

 

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The modus operandi is resolved as a bottom-up approach to waste management solutions, correlative to the top-down attitude in a centralised system instituted by authorities. Each home, Daily Dump believes, contributes to around 50-70% organic waste and if converted into organic manure can reduce the burden on the public system by an overwhelming 60%!

In the initial stages of prototyping, Poonam with a team of colleagues, and thereafter, a potter, worked with terracotta designs. Owing to its porous nature and tendency to regulate excessive water and to engage in a sensitive resuscitation of the declining skills in pottery, terracotta was materially explored in the composter designs.

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Seemingly counter-intuitive, the business framework is open to being ‘cloned’ as ventures by others. Daily Dump provides scalable opportunities for ‘Enthusiasts’, ‘Part-Timers’ or ‘Eco-preneurs’ to taking forward the established modules through partnerships and partake in the commercial value – isochronous as a network that enables value without diminishing with copying.

A remarkably open-source and informative website guides one visually through a repository of the missives it advocates and across products such as modular composting systems, storage and compost solutions, natural and non-toxic cleaning agents, seeds, simplified starter kits and accessories.

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Additionally, educational and awareness tools such as detailed infographics, product films, free downloads, collection of illustration books and videos for children, trash trail tours, posters, free downloads and a practicable compilation entitled ‘Ideas for Change’ provoke thought and self-organisation are available. In a systemic loop of offerings, it addresses the entire hierarchy of comprehension and awareness – at both, an individual’s and a community’s level.

Daily Dump believes in changing mindsets through design and aligns to the ‘Made in India, Made for India’ credo. “If composting becomes a national habit,” Poonam mentions, “then the purpose of Daily Dump is well-served. That the design and construction of residences, offices apartments and other buildings take into consideration the need for segregation, collection, storage, disposal and composting on site as a mandate. That composters become as ubiquitous and in demand as swimming pools and club houses in residential complexes.”

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As of February 2016, with 25,895 kgs organic waste saved daily, 29,370 happy customers, and more than sixty partners, the statistics reflect the fruition of their efforts. As the momentum amplifies, the work does too and Daily Dump gradually wants to understand the systems of extraction and disposal deeper and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams working in areas of circular economies.

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Increasingly, although more people seem open to the idea of composting and sustainable practices, Poonam considers it may not be enough to counter the poison that is fed into the system daily. “That this is urgent”, she says while outlining the challenges Daily Dump faces in this niche pursuit, “is the hardest thing to communicate to our potential customers.” The need, to work for a cleaner and healthier living environment, cannot be more basic; the broader social impact is the added extra.

To be informed, to start composting at home, to understand the know-hows, to take these ideas forward, join the Daily Dump movement here.

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