Looking to reduce your carbon footprint and make an eco-friendly contribution? Composting is a great way to do just that! But before you dive into the world of composting, you might be wondering, what can I compost? In this short article, we will explore a variety of organic materials that can be composted, helping you make the most out of your compost pile. From fruit and vegetable scraps to coffee grounds and yard waste, you’ll be surprised at the wide range of items that can be transformed into nutrient-rich soil. So, let’s get started on your composting journey!
What Can I Compost?
Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. By composting, you are actively participating in the cycle of life, turning organic materials back into the earth to support new growth. But what exactly can you compost? Below is a comprehensive list of various items you can compost, organized into different categories.
1. Organic Kitchen Waste
1.1 Fruit and vegetable scraps: When you’re done enjoying that delicious apple or salad, don’t throw away the peels, cores, or leftover bits. They can all be composted! Fruit and vegetable scraps provide valuable nutrients and moisture to your compost pile.
1.2 Coffee grounds and tea leaves: After brewing your daily cup of coffee or tea, don’t discard the grounds or leaves! Coffee grounds and tea leaves are packed with nitrogen, which is an essential element for the composting process.
1.3 Eggshells: If you regularly consume eggs, save the shells! Eggshells are a great source of calcium, which helps to neutralize acidity in your compost pile.
1.4 Nut shells: Nut shells, such as those from peanuts, walnuts, or almonds, can also be composted. However, they may take longer to break down fully compared to other organic materials.
1.5 Discarded spices and herbs: When you clean out your spice rack or the fridge, don’t forget that expired spices and herbs can be added to your compost bin. They will add flavor to your compost and enhance its nutrient content.
1.6 Stale bread and grains: Instead of tossing stale bread or expired grains into the trash, consider composting them. Bread and grains provide carbon, one of the necessary components for a balanced compost pile.
2. Yard Waste
2.1 Leaves and grass clippings: Fallen leaves and grass clippings are excellent composting materials. They provide a good source of carbon and are often readily available from your own yard.
2.2 Shredded twigs and branches: If you have pruned your trees or trimmed bushes, the resulting twigs and branches can be composted. Shred them into smaller pieces to speed up the decomposition process.
2.3 Dead flowers and plants: When flowers wilt or plants die, don’t let them go to waste. Add them to your compost bin! They will break down and become part of the nutrient-rich soil amendment you create.
2.4 Weeds (without seed heads): It may seem counterintuitive, but weeds can be composted. However, make sure to remove any seed heads to prevent them from spreading and taking root in your garden.
2.5 Hedge trimmings: If you have hedges that require regular trimming, those clippings can also be composted. Chop them into smaller pieces to accelerate decomposition.
3. Paper Products
3.1 Newspaper and cardboard (shredded): Newsprint and cardboard are valuable sources of carbon for your compost pile. Shred them into smaller pieces to facilitate decomposition.
3.2 Paper towel and toilet paper rolls: Before tossing your paper towel or toilet paper rolls into the recycling bin, consider adding them to your compost. The cardboard tubes will break down naturally and enrich the compost.
3.3 Shredded office paper: Don’t throw away all that shredded office paper! It can be used in composting to provide carbon and create a diverse mixture of organic matter.
3.4 Brown paper bags: Those brown paper bags you get from the grocery store can be composted as well. Tear them into smaller pieces to speed up the breakdown process.
3.5 Unwaxed pizza boxes: Pizza night doesn’t have to end in waste. Unwaxed pizza boxes, free from any greasy residue, can be composted and contribute to your garden’s fertility.
4. Household Waste
4.1 Hay and straw: If you have hay or straw leftover from animal bedding or gardening projects, put it to good use in your compost pile. They introduce carbon and provide structure to the compost.
4.2 Dryer lint and pet hair: The lint collected in your dryer’s lint trap and hair gathered from brushing your pets can be composted. They are rich in nitrogen and a great addition to your compost bin.
4.4 Paperboard (e.g., cereal boxes): Paperboard, such as the ones found in cereal boxes or other dry goods packaging, can be composted. Remember to remove any plastic or foil lining before adding them to your compost bin.
4.5 Cotton and wool fabric scraps: Instead of throwing away old cotton or wool fabrics, consider composting them. Cut them into smaller pieces to encourage faster decomposition.
5. Yard and Garden Waste
5.1 Sawdust and wood chips: If you have access to sawdust or wood chips from woodworking projects or tree trimming, they can be added to your compost. However, it’s best to mix them with other materials to maintain the balance of carbon and nitrogen.
5.2 Pine needles and cones: If you have pine trees in your yard, you can compost fallen pine needles and cones. They break down slowly but add acidity to the compost, which can benefit certain plants.
5.3 Pruned tree branches: When you prune your trees, save the smaller branches for composting. Break them into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.
5.4 Bamboo or straw furniture: If you have any old bamboo or straw furniture that is no longer usable, consider composting it. Break it into smaller pieces to facilitate decomposition.
5.5 Natural fibers (jute, hemp): Natural fibers like jute or hemp can also be composted. Cut them into smaller pieces to aid in decomposition.
6. Non-Organic Materials
6.1 Plastic and synthetic fabrics: It is crucial to keep non-organic materials out of your compost pile. Plastic, synthetic fabrics, and other similar materials should not be composted.
6.2 Metal and glass: Similarly, metal and glass should never be added to your compost. They do not decompose and can contaminate your compost.
6.3 Glossy or coated paper: Glossy or coated paper, such as magazines or catalogs, should not be composted. The coatings on these papers may contain chemicals that are harmful to your compost pile.
6.4 Dairy and meat products: Avoid adding dairy and meat products to your compost. They can attract unwanted pests and create unpleasant odors.
6.5 Oily or greasy materials: Oily or greasy materials, like used cooking oil or grease-soaked paper, should not be composted. They can disrupt the balance of your compost pile and create undesirable conditions.
7. Compostable Products
7.1 Compostable food containers: Some food containers are labeled as compostable. If you have these containers, they can be composted as long as they have been certified by a composting authority.
7.2 Compostable utensils: Similar to compostable food containers, compostable utensils can also be added to your compost pile if they meet the necessary certifications.
7.3 Compostable bags: If you have compostable bags that meet the required standards, you can include them in your compost. However, ensure they are truly compostable and not just marketed as “biodegradable.”
7.4 Compostable diapers: Compostable diapers have become more popular in recent years. If you are using compostable diapers, they can be added to your compost pile according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
7.5 Compostable coffee pods: Some coffee pods are made from compostable materials. If you have these pods, check the packaging to see if they can be composted. If so, add them to your compost pile.
8. Pet Waste
8.1 Herbivore pet droppings: If you have herbivorous pets, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, you can compost their droppings. Herbivore waste adds valuable nitrogen to your compost pile.
8.2 Rodent bedding and waste: If you have pet rodents, like hamsters or gerbils, any used bedding and waste they produce can be composted. However, avoid using the compost on edible plants due to potential health concerns.
8.3 Avian (bird) droppings: If you have pet birds or chickens, their droppings can be composted. Bird droppings are rich in nitrogen and make an excellent addition to your compost.
8.4 Reptile and amphibian waste: Reptile and amphibian waste can also be composted. However, ensure that the composting process reaches a high enough temperature to kill any potential pathogens.
8.5 Carnivore pet droppings: While herbivore pet droppings can be composted, the same cannot be said for droppings from carnivorous pets like cats and dogs. The high levels of bacteria in their waste can pose health risks.
10. Things to Avoid Composting
10.1 Diseased plants: It’s crucial not to compost plants that are diseased or infested with pests. Doing so could spread the diseases and pests to other plants.
10.2 Weeds with seed heads: As mentioned previously, weeds can be composted, but don’t include any with seed heads. The seeds may survive the composting process and germinate in your garden.
10.3 Meat and dairy products: Avoid adding meat and dairy products to your compost pile. They can attract pests and lead to unpleasant odors.
10.4 Treated wood or sawdust: Treated wood and sawdust should never be composted. The chemicals used in the treatment process can contaminate your compost and harm plants.
10.5 Invasive plant species: Invasive plant species, such as those listed by your local authority, should not be composted. Properly dispose of invasive plants to prevent their spread.
Composting is an eco-friendly and sustainable way to reduce waste and create valuable fertilizer for your garden. By understanding what can and cannot be composted, you can optimize your composting efforts and contribute to a healthier and more vibrant environment. So start composting today and watch your garden flourish with the help of nutrient-rich compost!