Do you know that we currently toss out enough food scraps and yard waste to make up about one third of the materials in landfills? There are many negative issues associated with landfills–like soil toxins and greenhouse gases. Instead of adding to this problem, what can you do about making compost to help reduce this problem? How about a list of compostable items that you probably did’t know are compostable.
Composting adds many nutrients to the ground, while eliminating certain pesticides, preservatives, and other contaminants that can be found in soil. It also reduces the amount of organic materials in landfills, which lowers the amount of methane and leachate. And it will provide some excellent food for your greenhouse plants.
Composting promotes environmental sustainability, but for me, I have a difficult time trying to determine what can and cannot be used in my compost bin. We all know the obvious choices, such as vegetable and fruit leftovers, coffee, etc., but after doing some research, there are also a great deal of common products that most people (including myself) don’t realize are compostable.
REMEMBER: When it comes to composting there are some important rules like the ratio of green to brown ingredients. This varies and depends on the pile but normally it is a ratio of 2 greens to 3 browns). The other major rule is no meat products or plastics.
So after doing some research, I found 30 everyday compostable items you probably didn’t know can be composted.
1. Coffee filters and tea bags
2. Used paper napkins, paper bags, and paper plates
3. Shredded pizza and cereal boxes (no wax coated ones)
4. Toothpicks, Bamboo skewers, and used matches
5. Wine corks (the real cork ones–Skol)
6. Paper cupcake/muffin cups
7. Paper egg cartons
8. Cellophane bags (not plastic)
9. Dryer lint
10. Old cotton balls
11. Hair — from a human or a pet (good thing my dog sheds)
12. Paper towel, toilet paper, or wrapping paper rolls
13. Old shower loofahs and natural sponges
14. Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard only
15. Used tissues (gross but compostable)
16. Sticky notes (shredded)
17. Newspaper (shredded)
18. Pencil shavings
19. Receipts (shredded)
20. Plain paper envelopes (shredded)
21. Latex balloons and gloves
22. Dry pet food
23. Feathers (have a pet bird)
25. Any dead or living house plants and leaves
26. Ground up peanut or other nut shells (except black walnut shells)
27. Flowers that your spouse gave you (after they have died of course)
28. Alcohol left over from the party (moistens the pile and activates it)
29. Stale chips, crackers and cereal
30. That juice from canned vegetables
It can be easy to forget to compost at certain times when you first start out, like during food prep or after meals. However, this can easily be avoided by keeping a small compost bin nearby.
That way you won’t forget to separate your compostable items from your garbage. I keep a small bin right in my kitchen for any food scraps or other kitchen waste, and every day it is emptied into our compost pile.
Now with that, there are a few things to keep in mind that should NEVER be added to your compost pile.
1. Pet waste from carnivorous animals
2. Egg, meat scraps and bones
3. Diseased plants and weeds with seeds
4. Grease and oils
5. Milk products
6. Chemically treated wood and sawdust products
7. Glossy paper (advertisements and such)
8. Black Walnut shells
9. Used diapers and other personal feminine hygiene products
The items on the DO NOT list will often attract pest and cause terrible smells.
What you can and cannot compost will become like second nature to you the longer you have a compost bin, and you will probably find yourself questioning whether you can and cannot compost certain items. For now, though, you can always reference this list of compostable items at any time.