Zero Waste, Agro Waste And More: A Chat With Manju Kumar
Zero waste, agro waste- we've been hearing it all. We have been talking about it in our previous blog posts as well. But what does it mean to actually incorporate these concepts in our daily life? In a rapidly expanding concrete world, Manju Kumar aka 'zero waste farmer' (as she is known on Instagram) comes as a breath of fresh air. We, at Karmic Seed, have been following her work for quite some time and were thrilled at the opportunity to interview her. From her zero waste lifestyle, gardening skills to her family-owned company “Brush with Bamboo” and agro-waste utilization tips: we asked it all and she was more than happy to oblige.
KS: Every person always cites someone else as their inspiration to do the things that they do. Who has been your inspiration when it comes to your green thumb?
MK: When it comes to my green thumb, I have to say, my family. Everyone in my family has been landlords and farmers, as a result of which I've had access to good, homely food in my childhood.
KS: In a world where people prefer buying their fruits and vegetables from the supermarket or ordering it online, what exactly motivates you to grow your own produce?
MK: I guess; I don’t like to follow everybody else. I’m sort of a rebel that way and I don’t get swayed by the glitter of things. I have always firmly felt that whatever the earth produces is the most natural and best for you.
KS: How have you incorporated the concept of zero waste, into farming?
MK: Basically I don’t believe in the use of plastic. We always ask our customers to get their own containers. I also collect reusable containers. The amount of packaging that goes into food items for sale, is the biggest waste. We solve that issue by growing our own food. Another wastage that tends to happen, is a waste of water due to inefficient irrigation. We don't do that wastage. We also believe in the concept of permaculture which is essentially like living in a forest. The forest does not get fertilizers or any artificial resources and yet, the soil is healthy and the forest is lush.
KS: Agro waste is gaining popularity but at the same time, very few people actually make it a part of their day-to-day life. Any tips on how to do so?
MK: Now I’m quite lazy and look for the easiest way to compost. I segregate my waste and since I have a lot of land outside my house, I dig huge holes of about two feet by four feet and fill it with green waste and cover that up with soil. The waste decays and provides essential nutrients to the soil and plants.
KS: Usually in an urban setting like an apartment, you don’t really have land around you to do that. Do you think the same method could work for potted plants too?
MK: Yeah sure! You could try filling the bottom of the pot with green waste and cover it up with soil. You could definitely try that too.
KS: We often don’t think much of something as small and yet significant as a toothbrush, yet here you are. Tell us a little bit about the story behind Brush with Bamboo
MK: It actually came upon my son's mind. We were watching documentaries on plastic usage and we realized that we own so much plastic around us! Even when you dig into your handbags, you find so many items of plastic. One day, he was brushing his teeth and he realized that even the first thing one puts in their mouth, is made of plastic. He started searching for alternatives but there were no options at the time. He found out that in ancient times bamboo tree brushes existed. Since there were none in the market, we decided to create our own. That is the story behind Brush with Bamboo
KS: That is truly inspirational and quite amazing! Now for our last question, we would like to know what are some of your favorite ways to avoid making trash or attain a zero waste living?
MK: I think the biggest way you can avoid making trash is by growing your food. Instead of growing grass or bushes, I use that same water to grow plants that can actually give me food. This way you can save up on the amount of plastic that goes into packaged food. Another way is to avoid harsh chemicals or anything that is not offered by mother nature. For example, instead of fertilizers, you could use coffee ground, which is normally considered waste, to fertilize your soil. As much as possible, stop your waste from going into the landfill.
KS: Thank you so much Manju for giving us your precious time and knowledge
MK: The pleasure is all mine! To know more about Manju and her zero waste journey follow her on Instagram @zerowastefarmer To know more about her company Brush With Bamboo, check out their website and take that extra step towards a plastic-free future.