Aung Min Gaung pagoda, iconic temple in the heart of Yangon
The Aung Min Gaung pagoda is an important monastery and meditation center in the leafy green heart of Yangon.
But like most other temples it struggles with waste management. Much of the regular maintenance is carried out by volunteers, and in the absence of structured systems it is hard to keep the grounds as neat and orderly as could be wished.
The head abbot in conjunction with a couple of regular foreign meditators approached us in late 2019 and asked for help to establish a system that could take care of their food waste and garden waste.
We helped them to build a waste management area with bins for sorting recyclables and general trash, and a specific bay for storing dry leaves instead of burning them. We showed the kitchen staff and gardeners how to collect and ferment the kitchen food waste in bokashi barrels and prepare it for composting. The volume of food waste is some 3 barrels per week – around half a ton per month. Not hard to manage if you know what to do.
Together with the gardeners, we set up a row of composting stacks using wooden shipping pallets. We worked out daily routines for managing the barrels and layering them into the compost stacks along with the dry leaves. The waste management station made a big difference – it provided structure and set a new standard for how things should be maintained.
The outcome after half a year is really inspiring. All organic waste is now composted, recyclables are now managed and general waste is much less. The gardeners have cleaned up the old trash area and made it into a beautiful green garden. Each month they harvest a stack or so of compost that can be used around the grounds – a valuable replacement for chemical fertilisers and a real boost to the shrubs and bushes.
We’re always concerned about creating more work for gardeners and kitchen staff, but they appear to be happy. The new routines have now settled and having a steady supply of rich, living soil is now part of their day to day reality.