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The Art of Composting - The core player

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The Art of Composting
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The core player
Lin has been the key player since the workshop started operating in 2007 when some building space became available for such a mission.

Lin said that in fact recycling volunteers like her had long known about the troublingly high volume of kitchen waste, but they had not done anything about it sooner because there had been no suitable space.

Referring to the early days of the workshop, Liu Pin-jun, another key player, said, “We had no experience and we could not make any compost during the first six months. It was one failed batch after another. The smell was awfully offensive and insects were rampant. Many volunteers were disheartened.”

But she and Lin pressed on. They tweaked their methods every which way and learned from their mistakes. Now they have accumulated nuances that have enabled them to overcome the challenges of insects and odor. For example, they found that the compost buckets should be left uncovered so as not to attract insects.

Lin numbered every one of the 120 compost heap containers to facilitate quick referencing, and she keeps a logbook with precise records about each container. The log clearly shows when and what needs to be done to which container. With this information, volunteers can quickly and efficiently drain liquids or harvest compost. The logbook also helps to trace what works and what does not.

Now that the volunteers have worked out most of the kinks in their composting process, many people have visited the workshop to learn. Volunteers from other Tzu Chi recycling stations come to learn from Lin and Liu, and they implement what they have learned at their own stations.

A family situation has prevented long-time core member Liu from staying with the workshop. However she did not phase out of the project before she had contributed greatly to its growth. Lin remarked that she needs to bring up another key helper soon.



Free kitchen waste disposal as part of public garbage collection has been available to people in Taiwan since 2001, but many people apparently are not taking the time or effort to separate their kitchen waste from other kinds of garbage. “Of the more than two million tonnes (2.2 million US short tons or 4.4 billion pounds) of kitchen waste generated a year in Taiwan, only about 30 percent is recycled,” Lin lamented.

Lin hopes that everyone will start recycling their food waste. Better yet, she hopes that people will cook just enough for their consumption so that there is no food waste to be recycled. If extra food is not cooked, then extra energy is not used for cooking, and extra food is not wasted.

Source: Tzu Chi Quarterly Fall 2010
Translated by Tang Yau-yang