New Delhi: Meet 52-year-old Anju Agarwal, who is today known in Chennai for her home garden, where she nurtures over 50 different varieties of vegetable and fruit-bearing plants as well as herbs, along with organic soaps made using the produce from her garden. Anju Agarwal says that she has been able to do all this because of one thumb rule she follows and that is of effective waste management. Talking to NDTV, Ms Agarwal explained her waste-free journey, she said,
The love for gardening started from my childhood days, initially, my parents and I used to work on our kitchen garden in Mumbai. After marriage when I moved to a different city, Chennai, I decided to pursue my hobby again, only this time, I was much more aware of the problem my society was facing and that was the problem of waste. It was then I thought of taking responsibility for my own waste and manage it effectively. As a first step, all I did was to segregate the amount of waste that I was generating. Dry waste of the house was being sent for the purpose of recycling, whereas, wet waste was being converted into compost. And that compost helped me make my sprawling terrace garden.
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By simply managing her waste well, today Ms Agarwal has 50 different varieties of vegetable and fruits growing at her home itself. From spinach, tomatoes, carrots and beetroot to spring onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, papaya, bananas, guava, lemons and sweet potatoes, Ms Agarwal’s garden has got it all. She adds,
Every single day, I am using something in my kitchen from my own garden. Nothing beats this feeling, I generate waste and then manage it well by generating compost out of it, which goes into my garden and further generates something useful for me. This is what I called a ‘circular economy’ and this is what everyone should be doing today in a bid to make our country waste-free.
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Talking about her learnings from composting and the way she is managing her waste, Ms Agarwal says that she didn’t learn to compost from anyone. She simply started doing it on her own and through hit and trial method she succeeded in composting.
“Till the time you will not fail in doing something, you will never learn. Composting is not something you can get it right in one go. Practice is what that will make you a genius and that is what I am doing till date,” adds Ms Agarwal.
Not just veggies, Ms Agarwal’s practice of managing her waste effectively has given her another purpose, she has started making organic soaps using her garden produce.
With my garden harvest and a little bit of my personal research, I learned how to make organic soaps and oil. As Aloe Vera and Turmeric is there in my garden every season, I started making soaps using them. Once I mastered the technique of making these, I also started experimenting with seasonal plants such as rose.
Today, Ms Agarwal is selling these organic soaps through her Facebook Page Anju’s Garden, starting from a cost of Rs 150. Not just that, Ms Anju has also started an initiative of teaching other people the art of composting and growing their own veggies at home through her group ‘The Organic Farming’. Currently, this group boasts of 30,000 plus members and organises campaigns such as Terrace Garden Visits in which all members go to each other’s terrace and learn new techniques of composting and growing plants.
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Our overall motto is to make Chennai free from landfills and this can only happen if each and every citizen living here takes the responsibility of managing their own waste. Sustainable living is our future and it will be better if people learn it well in time, signs of Anju Agarwal.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.