Ukraine has a major problem with waste management. The recycling rate is one of the lowest in Europe. 95% of the solid waste is still being buried in landfills. Recycling is uncommon. In Lviv the garbage is piling up. But some people have found a creative solution.
Mountains of Garbage
In Ukraine, almost all of the solid waste is buried or dumped on landfills throughout the country. Landfills and dumps cover more than 9,000 hectares of land.
The country produces ten to thirteen million tons of municipal solid waste annually with almost neglectable recycling rates. By contrast, EU countries recycle almost half of their waste.
In Lviv, a fourth of the garbage is organic materials, for example food left-overs. In the autumn it can be as much as half of the produced garbage, because the leaves fall off the trees,which amounts to 300 tons of leaves and small branches per day.
Waste disposal is a climate change problem. Trash in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas. It is the second most common gas emitted by human activity, following carbon dioxide. Methane emissions are more damaging to the environment, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.
Pollution from landfills is growing. Urbanization pushes people into cities and increases waste. A successful way to reduce landfill methane is to reduce the amount of methane-generating materials going into landfills in the first place. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we can cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect the planet for future generations.
Employer of Worms
When industrial farming methods were widely introduced in Ukraine in the 70s, agricultural production rose. But so did the pressure on the environment. Results of this industrialization were depletion of natural resources, decreased soil fertility and environmental pollution with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In the end, many regions suffered from the worsened ecological situation, especially rural areas, as well as those already dependent on water amelioration. The obvious solution to this problem is a shift to more sustainable agricultural norms. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements says that in 2016, there were 390 organic farms, which already makes Ukraine a major producer of organic food.
Zinoviy Shalay, a villager from Griada near Lviv, is 71 years old. Before he became a pensioner, he was a teacher of Russian and literature at a school. Twenty years ago he decided to grow raspberries, completely free from chemicals. In only a couple of years, he has become the owner of a large household "raspberry paradise". The only fertilizer used in his garden are Californian worms, which recycle organic waste into bio-humus, making the soil more suitable for growing quality berries.
"All of us need some friends. Plants do too. With worms, my raspberries are living in harmony"
Every year from July to October he gathers a ton of raspberries from his two fields with help from his neighbors and friends. Shalay has a very specific and rare type of raspberry. They are bigger and juicier than other species that are common in Ukraine. One part of the harvest, Shalay sells to Lviv restaurants, another part is bought by private families. He also produces homemade raspberry jam and liqueurs.
Poison in our Food
Pesticides are not only dangerous to the environment, they can also pose a risk to people. Numerous studies have linked pesticides to cancer, Alzheimer's disease and ADHD. Generally people will only be exposed to amounts of pesticides too small to pose a real risk, but there is still good reason for minimizing the use of pesticides in foods.
Almost half of a normal household's garbage consists of organic waste; potato peels, apple cores, carrots, tea bags, coffee filters and even toilet paper. All of which could simply be composted with the help of worms. Worms feed on the organic materials and turn it into a rich fertilizer and natural pesticide.
Organically grown foods contain fewer toxic pesticides than conventionally grown food, a study from the American Consumers Union found. Edward Groth, a senior Scientist at CU, says: "We have shown that consumers who buy organic fruits and vegetables are exposed to just one-third as many residues as they'd eat in conventionally-grown foods."
Worms & the City
There are several things you can do with your own worm-composting-station, even in the city.
Do it in your own apartement
A Box filled with worms and soil can replace your bin for organic garbage.
Make it a shared project in your community
Just imagine how much more garbage you can produce together!
Provide a service of worm-composting for your neighbors
Maybe you could even sell some of the soil you produce, it is great for growing flowers and vegetables.
When you make worm compost, you take organic waste from the kitchen, put it in a bin with the worms and mix it with bokashi, a fermented mix of microorganisms to cover the waste. It helps decrease the smell during the rotting process. Worms do not like light or too much heat, so there should be a cap on the bin. It takes only about ten to fifteen minutes about two times a week to empty the compost and put new waste in the bin.
Your worms will love their new apartment in the city.