Starting a compost pile is one of the best things you can do for your garden and the environment. Every piece of garbage that goes into the pile instead of the dumpster saves valuable landfill space and adds much needed nutrients to your soil.
Once you get a good pile going, you’ll start running into the same question over and over again, “Is this compostable?”
More frequently than you might think, the answer might be yes. Pretty much anything organic (organic here meaning derived from a natural source, not just stuff from Whole Foods) can go in the compost pile.
Not too surprising…
1. Dead Houseplants
2. Fireplace ashes
3. Tea Bags and Coffee grounds (including the filters)
4. Seaweed and Kelp
5. Stale Bread and other grain products
6. Eggshells (here are six more ways to use eggshells in your garden)
7. Used paper towels and napkins
8. Paper grocery bags (balled up or ripped in pieces)
9. Dirt and grime off the bottom of your shoes and boots (or swept off the floor)
10. Droppings from any of your vegetarian critters: chickens or other birds, rabbits, hamsters, horses, sheep, cows, etc.
11. Paper towel and toilet paper rolls.
12. Miscellaneous cardboard, so long as it’s not waxed and has been ripped into pieces (good job for a bored kid): paper plates, pizza boxes, egg cartons, cereal boxes, you name it!
13. Dryer Lint
14. Polish-free nail clippings (from you or your pets)
15. Hair, fur and feathers
16. Cotton, Wool and Silk clothing
17. Rope and twine made from natural fibers (hemp, cotton, jute, etc.)
18. Wine Corks
19. Pencil shavings and eraser rubbings
20. Cotton Balls & Q-tips (with the cardboard stick, not plastic)
21. Toothpicks and bamboo skewers
22. Old pet food: dry dog kibble, dry cat food, fish food, catnip
23. Shredded documents (just make sure not to shred the envelopes with plastic windows. Plus there is something very satisfying about throwing all your old bills into a big pile of dirt)
24. Old loofahs (but not plastic poufs)
25. Expired dairy products
26. Old Halloween candy (sans wrapper of course)
27. Old leather: gloves, wallets, belts, etc. (just make sure they’re fairly worn out, or you’ll compost before they do)
28. Used matches
29. Organic Holiday Decorations (jack-o-lanterns, crepe paper streamers, wrapping paper, latex balloons, Christmas Wreaths, Valentine’s Day bouquets, etc)
30. Beer and wine
31. Condoms made from latex or sheepskin
32. Cotton and Cardboard feminine products
33. The contents of your vacuum canister (if it has paper bags, you can throw the whole bag into the pile)
34. White glue (check the ingredients to make sure it’s not toxic, but most school glues are just fine)
35. Masking tape
There a few items above (condoms, feminine products, Halloween candy, expired dairy) that you probably shouldn’t leave on the top of the pile, either because of the gross factor or because they can attract unwanted critters. For those items, wait until you’re turning the pile and put them somewhere in the middle. There’s a few more it’s hard to imagine ending up with – but one good Elmer’s glue spill onto a pile of newspaper or a bottle of wine that gets left out and now has dead fruit flies in it – and you’ll be glad to know that the whole mess can go right into the compost pile.
Further Reading: Composting 101: How To Create Compost That Works Like Rocket Fuel For Your Garden