MEET POONAM BIR KASTURI- INDIA’S COMPOSTWALI

Updated: Apr 27


An Introduction

Have you ever thought about how you can contribute to a cleaner environment, or how you can reduce the amount of waste from your house that goes into the environment? It would be understandable if you face a roadblock right after asking yourself these questions, because you do not know how exactly you can achieve the objective of reduced waste. Fortunately, Poonam Bir Kasturi has come up with a brilliant solution which is helping thousands of people contribute to a cleaner urban environment. Daily Dump- her brainchild is helping innumerable households to compost organic waste. Daily Dump has designed a product made of terra-cotta with which anyone can convert kitchen waste into compost at home, thereby helping homeowners to reduce the amount of waste generated. It is interesting to note that in India, no commercial home composter was available until Daily Dump launched the “first of its kind” terra-cotta product.


The Idea Behind the Venture – A desire to fulfill future needs

How did Daily Dump begin its journey 15 years ago? Talking on the Climapreneur Show, founder Poonam Bir Kasturi says that she always wanted to do something that nobody else wanted to do. She started the company at a time when composting and climate consciousness were topics that were discussed only by niche sections and experts in the society, she wanted composting to become a concept familiar with the common people. She said, “I knew there was a need, and the need would come.” Along with interest in soil and plants, she also had an interest in design and the intersection of culture and creativity and products, this lead to the creative designs on the products of daily dump. Her creativity is what helped kickstart the operations of the company, she admits that she did not have any networking or business skills and that she was a ‘reluctant entrepreneur’. All that she had was her passion for design and nature and a vision for herself. She remembered that when she had started the company, she wondered whether she would be able to monetize her idea properly, whether her risk would be worth it, but she knew that she was not being irrational about her decision. She was curious to find out how incorporating design with sustainability could open enduring pathways for people. She had decided that she was going to pursue her passion without listening to the noise that people made about her company. Through her vision, she wanted to inspire others to bring about a change in their lifestyle, to think about the environment while they went about their daily routine. Someday, she wishes to be remembered as “Compostwali”. She says, “When people start with composting, then they definitely do other things, they'll start thinking about veganism, about safe food, they'll start looking for lead- free paints while painting the house”. Her goal is to erase the idea that ‘soil is dirt’ from the minds of people.


The ‘daily’ process of making an impact

One crystal jubilee later, she and Daily Dump have achieved this goal. The impact has been so strong that besides reducing waste, she has managed to remove the social stigma associated with waste management and composting in the country. She says she and her team got a few things right, from the very beginning, which helped the company succeed. Firstly, they ensured that the dustbin they developed looked creative and attractive unlike ordinary dustbins at home. Secondly, they developed a distributed supply chain which helped set the benchmark that composting is in fact quite desirable for the environment. They also managed to incorporate culture and beauty into their products, which was loved by many people, and why wouldn’t they? Everyone admires the rich Indian culture comprising of pottery, colours, flowers and designs. As Poonam says, “It is all a part of us.” Lastly, they made sure that their business was transparent, and that they pushed the practice of composting rather than the sale of the product. Looking back at how far she has come, she says that she is very grateful to work with soil and compost, and believes that soil is magical. She says, “Working with compost has really taught me a lot. It satisfies my inner sense of understanding this life with its impermanence, and its regeneration and its amazingly connected intelligence.”



Talking to Shweta at The Climapreneur Show, she recalled how grateful she was to her initial consumers even though the first batch of 30 composters had a design flaw in each one of them. After a few years, the company sent out cards to the buyers of the first 10 composters, remembering the days of commencement. 15 years later, 5 or 6 products out of the first batch are still being used by the consumers. There are only a handful products that can boast such durability. Daily Dump has revolutionised waste management. Through consumers in the form of homeowners, offices and communities, it helps in saving more than 50,000 kg of organic waste on a daily basis so that it can be converted into useful and fertile compost. There is certainly no better way to make best out of waste. The signature product- the Terra cotta 'Kambha' symbolises the pride that the 60,000+ consumers have in owning the product of this climate conscious start-up.


Lessons for entrepreneurial minds

Poonam has not only changed our perception towards composting and soil but also towards entrepreneurship. When we hear the word “entrepreneur”, we often imagine someone who networks well, someone with good business acumen, someone who has planned their entire journey in detail. She did not possess these skill sets, but her strengths lay in her

ability to merge design with waste, her optimistic attitude which ensured she did not give up, her calmness and her vision to ensure climate consciousness among people.. Although she wasn’t big on networking, she has always believed in collaboration. Her belief is that collaboration among people helps touch more lives and gives an example of how her company touched lives of people in Budapest through an artist who used drawings on her composters and sold it in the Budapest market, thereby expanding the reach of Daily Dump. The founder says, “Competition boosts business but collaboration ensures a lifestyle change”.


It is fair to say that the world has become a better and cleaner place because of the efforts and vision of Poonam Bir Kasturi. She serves as a fine example of how people can be successful by simply following their passion. She is indeed India’s “Compostwali” and will always serve as a source of inspiration to people who wish to prioritize their passion over everything else.


Watch the complete episode here: I knew there was a need, and I knew that need would come |Poonam Bir Kasturi

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