What’s In Our Compost

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!

What’s in Our Compost? Paper scraps, hair, pet fur, wax paper, egg shells, cotton fabrics, string, read on….

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

Pet Fur

Band Aid Wrappers

Baskets

Wine at the Bottom of the Glass

Floor Sweepings (I pick out the plastic bits)

Clay

Coffee Grounds and Filters (but you knew that already)

Coffee Bags (non-plastic-lined, just rip out the metal strip at the top)

Sugar Packets

Shredded Paper

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)

String

Bailing Twine

Balloons (the latex kind only)

Cotton Fabric

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

Masking Tape

Parchment Paper

Old Potpourri

Old Baking Soda

Non-Toxic Play Doh

Puzzles

Rags

Latex Rubber Bands

Corn Husks and Cobs

Yarn

Paper Towels (but we’ve given those up)

Tissues (same as above)

Tea Bags and Paper Wrappers

Paper Scraps

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.

Peas produced from the fertilizer we make out of our weird composted stuffs. © Liesl Clark

Peas produced from the fertilizer we make out of weird composted stuffs. © Liesl Clark

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.)

Plastic-Coated Papers

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

  1. 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?

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    • 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!

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  2. 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!

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