What Can I Compost? A Complete List of Things You Can Compost

Gisela Possetto 2021-06-15 8 min

Composting is a relatively easy practice of recycling waste and gardening that it's been growing more and more popular among the sustainable people community. But what can be composted? You may find it hard to believe, but most of the organic material at home can be put into a pile of compost. Our goal here is to provide you with a complete list of thing you can compost.

Composting is a really noble and sacramental act, according to those who have been into it for some time. So why don't you give it a try? In this article you'll find some basics related to composting along with an extensive list of organic material from each part of your house that is compostable.

So...What do you think? Please, stay with us if you want to become the ultimate perfect compost magician!

In case you haven't' checked our article How to make a Compost Pile? All you need to know about it, please do! You'll find there really valuable tips for getting started with a compost pile.

veggies next to a compost bin
Greens - Unsplash

What's Composting?

Composting piles of organic waste is one of the easiest gardening activities to do. You can start a pile just in the back of your yard and that's the greatest advantage of composting: no many materials are required to start, just your decision and a spot your backyard. Of course, you can also use a bin, but at the beginning a simple pile will do. Composting is a a method of mixing organic waste to grow organic organic material, such as dirt, which happens to be an extremely rich soil fertilizer.

Composting is also one of the greatest and easiest ways of helping the planet! Yap, that's true. As you compost waste you prevent that waste from ending up in a landfill. Besides, composting is free, eco-friendly and easy to make!

What are Greens and Browns?

The first you'll need to know about compost is that at its basic level, any compost quill require "Greens" and "Browns".

  1. 🟢 Greens such as leaves, grass or even food scraps are organic materials with a high level of nitrogen.
  2. 🟤 Browns are for example, paper, wood chips or stalks and these are rich in carbon since they come from wood.

For the process of composting to start a combination of greens and browns is needed. This is technically called Compost Ratio, and you can learn a lot about this by reading our article The Perfect Compost Ratio: Greens to Brown Balance. Both types of material need to be soaking wet so that they start to break down into humus - a very rich natural soil fertilizer-. Under natural conditions, humus will be ready after a couple of months. Conditions can be manipulated, though, to obtain richer results. This usually happens in steps closely monitored with measured additions of carbon, nitrogen, air and water. When carried out under more supervised conditions, earthworms and fungi make an incredible contribution by helping breaking up the materials faster.

green, red and yellow compost bins
Compost Bins - Unsplash

Composting Basics

As we said already, you don't need much to start a compost. Virtually anything that was once alive can be composed. Every natural element on this planet will perish, decompose and disintegrate into the soil, making an incredible fertilizing contribution. Dust to dust, they say, uh? Well, that's pretty much everything what composting is about.

Remember that for starters, a pile of organic material is ok, but as the heap starts to grow you may want to prevent some unwanted odor by starting your compost in a bin. Luckily, there are a lot of compost bins available out there in the market!

What can be composted?

First of all remember that there is no a unique formula to get the best compost. You will try and try and find what works best for your compost with time. You'll discover a lot about this in your own process, too. But a good compost ratio estimates that a 3 parts of "browns" to 1 part of "greens" will give your compost its best performance.

Luckily, nature will be an ally here once again by providing a lot of greens during warmer seasons and a good bunch of browns during fall winter, especially. So to keep your compost balanced, you can store some browns to be used after during summer season.

You might still wonder what you can compost, right? Don't worry. The following list of compostable items is a quite extensive one that can help you start!

Note!

🟢 (G) refers to Greens, items rich in nitrogen or that break down really rapidly;

🟤 (B) makes reference to brown, full of carbon items, which take a little more time to decompose than greens.

1. Kitchen

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps (G)
  • Any kind of dairy or plant-based spoiled milk. (G)
  • Cooked pasta, rice or oat meal (G)
  • Coffee grounds (G)
  • Stale bread or crackers (G)
  • Herbs and spices that have grown old (G)
  • Avocado or any other fruit pit (you should chop these very carefully so that they don't spring up) (G)
  • Spoiled jams or jellies (G)
  • Stale beer and wine (G)
  • Crushed egg shells (G)
girl holdin mil cartons to be recycled

Food Recycling - Pexels

  • Coffe filters (B)
  • Tea bags (just in case open them up and just put the tea leaves, unless you know 100% that the package is cotton and not synthetic) (B)
  • Utilized paper napkins and paper towels (B)
  • Shredded paper bags (B)
  • Crumbs (any kind! check the corners of your counter, you'll find some there for sure!) (B)
  • Pizza crusts (B)

  • Cardboard boxes form pasta, cereals, or even pizza (check please that you remove any plastic part!) (B)
  • Peanut shells (B)
  • Wine corks (if you chop them, they decompose faster) (B)
  • Toothpicks (B)

2. Bathroom

  • Body Fluids like menstrual blood or even urine (G)
  • Used facial tissues (B)
  • Hair ir trimmings from an eclectic hair razor (B)
  • Shredded paper toilet (B)
  • Condoms that are 100% latex (B)
  • Cotton cotton balls (only pure cotton!) (B)
  • Cotton buds made with non-plastic sticks (B)
  • Tampons and sanitary pads (even used ones!. Make sure that they are 100% cotton and not rayon) (B)
photo of white cotton buds with non-plastick stick in a green vase
Cotton Buds Are Compostable - Pexels

3. Laundry Room

  • Old cotton clothing (Jeans also work. You should cut them into relatively small pieces, first) (B)
  • Shredded cotton fabric fragments (B)
  • Any old wool clothing (cut into small pieces) (B)
  • Shredded old cotton towels and sheets (B)
yellow paper rolls in a bin
Paper is compostable - Pexels

4. Office

  • Shredded bills, paper , envelopes or stick notes (B)
  • Pencil shavings (B)
  • Shredded old business cards (except that they are glossy) (B)

5. Spots in your house

  • Trimmed leaves from plants around the house (G)
  • Dead flowers from floral ornaments (G)
  • Crumbs and dust from under your furniture and cushions ( leave out anything that is inorganic or plastic) (B)
  • Shredded old newspapers or magazines (cut them into small pieces) (B)
  • Shredded Junk mail (remove plastic windows, first) (B)
  • Used matches (B)
  • Ashes (only in small amounts and not cigarette ashes!) (B)
  • Dead autumn leaves (B)
dead fall winter leaves on the ground
Dead Fall Winter Leaves - Unsplash

6. Pet-Related

  • Paper/organic droppings from the bottom of the bird cage (G)
  • Fur after brushing your cat or dog (B)
  • Feathers (B)
  • Pet food, fish pellets (B)
dog eating dry food from a plate
Dry Pet Food Is Compostable - Pexels

Final Comments

In this last part of the article we'd like to share some extra tips to make your compost experience even better!

1. Find what works for you

Put into different terms: know your limits! It's true that anything like food, animal or plant-based organic material can be composted but sometimes less is more. For instance, if you add to your compost too much fish or animal fat, it will break down eventually but it will give the pile an awful smell as well. The bad smell won't be the only problem, thousands of critters will cradle into the pile and let me tell you, your neighbors are not going to be happy, either. So, as we said, finding the right compost ratio is up to you to discover, too!

2. Compost happens sooner or later

We haven't expanded on this, but starting to recycle your own garbage is a huge step already towards taking care of the planet. Composting is a natural way of recycling organic waste that otherwise will end up in a dumped landfill. So you're contributing a lot by composting!

But there´s also other aspects you can work through composting like cultivating your patience and being more in contact with nature, which is actually something that a growing numbers of humans are trying to return to. And that's also very nice!

But if you can't wait for your compost to break down more rapidly and evenly, you surely can do it but please take these tips in mind:

  • Find the right balance

Remember a good and efficient compost pile will have greens and browns carefully balanced.

That means, if, for example, you put to much greens like leaves or dead flowers on your pile, you will need to balance and mix it with a good amount of browns too, let's say straw or wooden sticks and maybe some water, too so that it doesn't get too dry.

Keeping at hand a small stockpile of horse manure (green) and straw (brown) helps to keep your compost balanced while speeding up the process a little bit.

brown shovel on soil
Soil - Pexels
  • Air and water in necessary amounts

Turn and mix your compost pile every week. You can do this manually with a pitchfork and if you want to go pro you can get yourself a compost tumbler bin to make thins even easier.

A good compost should stay moist. Check on its humidity regularly, in case it's not raining you can hose it down to turn it wet. This right combination of air and water allows the proliferation of thousand of microorganisms that are key to a successful decomposing process. Composting s a win win for humans and these new born creatures as well, as they find the right habitat to thrive.

Now, it is true that almost everything that is organic can go to your compost pile, but if you want to have the best compost, do not miss our coming article: Compost 101: A Complete List of What Items Cannot Be Composted

Gisela Possetto

Copywirter, Cats + Tattoos + Music Lover

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