By Fanny Ohier
If you’re a fan of the environment and see the value in reducing and reusing waste, Darb1718 is offering workshops as a part of programme to promote this kind of sustainable environmentalism. The last workshop, held on Wednesday 22May, was about the benefits and process of composting, or using organic waste as soil fertiliser.
The process of making your own bin of compost seems similar to cooking yourself some food. First, you pile the different ingredients in your bin, following a specific recipe. Then, you add kitchen waste to the base of your compost every day, and stir the whole mixture regularly. Finally, you wait about one month for it to be similar to clay, and then you can use your own home-made compost. It is so easy anyone can do it, and it is environmentally friendly. It’s a wonder that little is known about composting in Egypt.
In order to spread the practice of composting, Darb1718’s manager Myriam Makhoul decided to organise workshops on the subject. “It increases people’s awareness regarding the use of kitchen waste instead of throwing it, and making something good out of it.” The participants of the two-hour workshop were presented to the different composting methods, and the benefits of using compost instead of using chemical fertilisers. At the end of the workshop, the participants were given the tools and the secrets of a composting recipe, and they also got to make composting bins themselves. Later on, they will be able to reproduce everything at home or on a larger scale, to use for gardening.
Makhoul is hopeful; she believes that more and more people will participate. “We’re going to conduct the workshop regularly at Darb1718, even if the cost is high for Darb,” she said. The workshops will be organised on a monthly basis. Already, different videos of the events have been published on Darb1718’s website.
“I wish that farmers would use compost because we deserve to eat organic food,” says Hani El-Khodary, the instructor for these workshops. The chemical fertilisers used by the farmers to grow crops cause many diseases, she says. Replacing those chemicals with compost is a viable solution. “If the farmers use their waste to produce their food, it would be cheaper and healthier than chemicals,” El-Khodary explains. In order to encourage these practices, Hani offers workshops for free for the famers. In Abu Sir, near Saqqara in South Cairo, he helped farmers make their own compost, which they both sold and used on their lands.
El-Khodary is also conducting some workshops on biogas, a method of producing gas by decomposing organic waste. He also founded an organisation called Biogas People, to develop and spread the practice. The result of biogas is not quantifiable, as El-Khodary emphasises, but it produces gas on a small scale. “It is better than nothing,” he emphasises.
People’s awareness of the environment grows through small initiatives such as these workshops. It spreads with word of mouth, because we hear about those habits that make our life healthier and then we replicate them.
Makhoul sees beyond the composting workshops. “I want the area to benefit from it”, she says. Around Darb1718, trash fills the street of Old Cairo. “I’m thinking, with the help of Hani, to start spreading awareness and giving free workshops to the people around us on how to recycle instead of dumping rubbish,” she explains.