Oman green update

It’s been six months! I can hardly believe it, but it’s a year since I left Korea, six months since I arrived in my latest home, and about two months since the heat began to ease off enough to allow for exploration. And the first thing I needed to explore, quite desperately, was a recycling centre.

Yes, since my last post about keeping carbon-footprint conscious in Oman, progress has been slow, but significant. Happily, this is not only true for me personally but also in wider society, where energy conservation is being nurtured. As the oil price slump continues and Oman seeks to diversify, belts are being tightened, expats are flooding home, and the answer to a number of problems is decidedly Green.

Transport: The bus routes offered by Mwasalat have indeed been a roaring success, and routes and stock are slowly being increased, to my great joy. I keep up with the regular bus news updates in the Muscat Daily like the true ‘bus stop wanker’ that I am. Thanks, Inbetweeners.

My own transport has been subject to a number of woes due to the unfamiliar terrain. The majority of people who cycle for transportation here are on heavy, fat-tyred beasts. Madame, with her sleek road tyres, has suffered a series of punctures. In our first two months on the road, she got three in a week from some kind of huge thorn that seems to be common in the area. It turns out a regular road tyre just can’t cut the Omani mustard, so I took advantage of my summer holiday travelling to pick up some kevlar-lined super tyres at the amazingly helpful Giant store in Zagreb. In two months back on the road, nary a puncture… until this week. I went over something big and it blew out the side of my tyre instead. Uuuurrgghh.

Madame with new red Maxxis tyres

Beaut new wheels!

 

Madame sporting her racing red new Maxxis Re-Fuse tyres

Recycling: It turns out there are some recycling centres, and they even recycle glass. The one I found is in a car-park which I suspect is attached to a school so I haven’t been able to clarify whether it is public, but I rocked up at the weekend with a backpack full of old cans, bottles and paper and the guard in the booth didn’t seem at all bothered by my presence. Hilariously, you can tell there’s international patronage of this facility. A high proportion of the contents of the aluminium recycling were beer cans!

active and resting compost bins in the garden

a two bin compost solution: the shredded paper top-layer adds ‘browns’ and keeps the smell in and the flies out

Food and green waste: The compost bin keeps growing. I tried to find the components to cultivate a proxy-bokashi system (using wheat bran and kombucha tea) whilst on holiday, but sadly failed, so I’ve started a ‘compost diary’ in which I dutifully record what experiment I’m trying, at what time, in which bin (there are now two, so that one can ‘settle’ while the other one is still active). This is proving ridiculously engaging, and stirring, draining, and checking on my compost bins is now a highlight of my weekend. Is ‘compost bin wanker’ a thing, I wonder?

I’ve read a number of different ways to compost depending on the environment, size of the pile, size of your garden and contents of your bin, and I’ve used a combination of sealed composting and open composting. The last tip I found to get the bin open and the process back to aerobic (= with oxygen) rather than sealed (= stinky) revolved around hot composting. Without a thermometer, I can’t measure the temperature. And with only a 20 litre bin, I don’t have the volume necessary to do it properly, but what emerged was normal smelling, all brown and mostly unidentifiable matter.

After a month of collecting waste, a month of it sitting sealed and undisturbed in the high heat of summer, and a month of my careful nurturing (balancing ‘greens’ with ‘browns’, stirring regularly, draining stinking leachate, keeping the right moisture balance) I finally dug the first batch into the garden three weeks ago. It had transformed from stinky kitchen mush to earthy-smelling, mulchy goodness! I was also delighted to find a number of healthy looking earthworms wriggling around in the soil. And so far, it hasn’t killed anything. I took this as success for a first try.

Fermented wheat berries

Fermented wheat berries

The next batch includes fermented wheat berries (the waste product of some home brewing) which I hope will encourage greater breaking down of the contents, and has been open from the start of the ‘settling’ process. I await the results with bated breath.

The links

Mwasalat’s website still has ‘coming soon’ for too many pages, but the route and timetable pages are now working. http://mwasalat.om/en-us/Services

Muscat Daily provides regular updates on the spread and success of the new public transport system. http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Oman/Mwasalat-transports-123-000-passengers-during-Eid-holidays-4tj5/(language)/eng-GB

Not cheap, but worth every penny, I hunted across Europe for heavy-duty road tyres. I highly recommend these ones. http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/om/en/maxxis-re-fuse-folding-tyre/rp-prod12537

Great resource for information on composting and all kinds of other home solutions for energy conservation. They’ll help save you money, too! http://turning2green.co.uk/blog/?p=794

Lots of useful tips on organic gardening, as well as this fantastically helpful guide to hot composting. https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

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