Yuck? No! It’s food for your veggies and flowers.
Most people don’t know that you can compost all sorts of paper bits, string, cotton fabric, human hair, and wax paper. Throw it in the pile and turn it into garden gold!
If you don’t compost, you can put these things in your organic or yard waste, if you have a municipal yard waste pickup in your community. Failing that, offer your compostables up to a neighbor in your Buy Nothing group. They’ll gladly take it off your hands. My pile can always take more ingredients as we use it on our 8 gardens and one acre of lawn. Keeping this stuff out of your garbage will save you money in the end. So, what can go into the compost pile?
Any organic matter that our chickens, dog, cat, humans, or guinea pig won’t eat goes into the decomposing pile. But we’re also able to compost other weird stuff. Here’s a short list of the unusual things we’ve been able to turn into fertilizer:
Human Hair from Haircuts and Shower Drains
Band Aid Wrappers
Wine at the Bottom of the Glass
Floor Sweepings (I pick out the plastic bits)
Coffee Grounds and Filters (but you knew that already)
Coffee Bags (non-plastic-lined, just rip out the metal strip at the top)
Ashes from the Fireplace and Fire Pit
Paper Produce Stickers
Butter Wrappers (these really do break down)
Wax Paper (but it also makes great fire-starter)
Balloons (the latex kind only)
Cornstarch Packing Peanuts
Crushed Egg Shells (the worms love ’em)
Cardboard Egg Cartons (great carbon source)
Q-Tips (the kind with the paper applicators, non-plastic)
Toilet Paper Rolls (ditto on the carbon source)
Nut Shells (they do break down, but can also go in the firestarter)
Fruit Pits (we get sprouted peach trees each year)
Fabric Scraps (so long as they’re natural non-bleached, non-poly)
Sheep’s Wool (we have lots for crafting)
SCOBY (my hens love it, but it can go in the compost, too)
Half-Burned Match Sticks
Old Seeds and Their Packets (we might get some freebie veggies the next season)
Pencil Shavings From the Sharpener
Nail Clippings From Cats, Dogs, Humans (Ew, gross!)
Paper Lollipop Sticks
Wax Coated Paper Candy Wrappers
Old Baking Soda
Non-Toxic Play Doh
Latex Rubber Bands
Corn Husks and Cobs
Paper Towels (but we’ve given those up)
Tissues (same as above)
Tea Bags and Paper Wrappers
Old Herbs and Spices
Entire Buried Fish (these go way down in the pile)
Entire Buried Chickens (these go even further down in the pile)
Cat Vomit (did she write cat vomit? Seriously, why throw it in the garbage if it’s just going to break down anyway?)
Avocado Pits (See what I did there? I moved right along. BTW, the worms love the avocado pits and lay their eggs in them. Think worm nursery.)
Guinea Pig Droppings (Have I grossed you out enough?)
Dog Vomit (Ok, Liesl, you’ve gone too far!)
Bee Vomit (That’s honey!)
I’ll stop there. You get the point. If it’s organic matter, it’ll break down. If it’s a paper product, the organic matter in the pile will break the paper down. And it all ends up on the lawn or in the gardens feeding the little plants into big plants and then producing beautiful food for our table.
What NOT to put into your compost pile:
Lint: I used to put lint into the compost until I realized much of our lint is synthetic fibers. It’ll never break down.
Organic Produce Stickers (You have to pick off each one of these buggers and put them in your trash because they’re made of plastic.)
Thermal Receipts (These are Bisphenol-A-laden. It’s an endocrine disruptor. Just say “no” when someone asks if you want a receipt.)
What other oddities can you add to the compostables list?
22 thoughts on “What’s In Our Compost”
I really enjoyed this. Thank you for the information. I have always thought about doing a garden and using stuff from the house as compost.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Yep, it’s those little things we do with the little bits and pieces in our lives that get us thinking. I do hope you have opportunity to start your garden!
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Butter wrappers- that’s awesome! That’s one item I haven’t been able to get around in a zero waste way. Do you purchase any special kind, or do you think most kinds would breakdown in a standard backyard compost bin?
Hi Lauren! I’ve used all kinds of butter wrappers (the paper kind that may be lined with a little wax or silicone) and ALL have broken down in my compost. I never see remnants of them once I shovel the compost onto the garden, so they’re clearly completely decomposing. I rip them up a little to give them a boost in breaking down, but you don’t have to do that, as my husband doesn’t bother and so they go in whole when he’s cleaning up the kitchen. More carbon for the pile!
Amazing find, thanks for sharing!
Amazing list, we unfortunately just learnt the hard way why not to put citrus into the compost :(( all our little worms died
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Really? Wow!! I’ve used citrus in the compost for years and still have tons of red worms and native worms in there. I’d love to learn more about this, Julia.
Ok, I just found this article which I found helpful: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/citrus-peels-compost.htm
I’m an information junkie so I’ve looked up several other articles and it seems the worms that don’t like the limonene in citrus peels will move away from them until they decompose. Would love to hear more about your particular experience.
Latex (rubber bands)? I never knew! – no lint? – darn! Of course I see why now…
Hi Myra! So, as far as I can tell, the latex rubber bands (and gloves and balloons) are decomposing in a hot pile. I’ll let you know if they come out in the garden, though!
Oh wow! Thanks much for the fantastic list. I’ve experimented with many things in the compost. I’m new to composting since half a year but am totally loving it. Yes, I love my compost, never thought I would say that. Now I have some more things I can throw in, that’s wonderful!
Thanks, Inge! It’s funny how the compost pile has become a chemistry experiment for so many of our common household organics. Having one on our property has definitely helped us reduce our overall waste to landfill.
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Yes same here! And I love the fact that I don’t have to buy plastic bags anymore for our trash since the stuff in the trash can is now only clean stuff.
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Definitely is! It composts right down to beautiful fertilizer.
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