What Can You Compost?

Composting at home is an excellent way to kick-off your sustainability effort. In addition to helping the environment, composting can also offer you a benefit in the form of financial savings. While it may not seem like much, all that fertilizer you purchase for the lawn or garden will start to add up. While it isn't always a direct replacement, the organic compost you make at home can replace some of the nutrients that the fertilizer would have offered to plants.

At home, there are a lot of organic household waste that can be put into a compost pile. The more of these organic wastes you put into the compost, the less trash that will go to the landfill. According to the US EPA, food scraps and yard waste make up more than 28 percent of the waste we throw away. Imagine if we decide to turn them into valuable compost instead.

In the following list, you can find a short description of the top household waste we would encourage you to throw in the compost bin.

1. Fruit & Vegetable Scraps

Nearly all types of fruit and vegetable waste can be placed into the compost bin. You just need to keep in mind that some fruits and vegetables are more practicable to use than others, and some types may also take longer or shorter to compost. For example, you can place avocado seeds in the compost pile but they will take some time to decompose because the seeds are naturally designed to resist breakdown through bacteria.

Before you place any fruit and veggie scraps into the compost pile, we would suggest chopping them up as finely as possible to speed up the composting process. Green leftovers that make get composting ingredients include banana skins, cucumber, lettuce, potatoes, and apples.

2. Egg Shells

Egg shells are a great choice for gardening compost due to the fact that they are rich in calcium. For plants, calcium plays an important role in the overall growth. We would suggest you crush the egg shells into even more smaller pieces before they are thrown into the compost bin.

3. Coffee Grounds & Filter

Enjoy drinking coffee on a regular basis? Well, here's a chance to put the leftover coffee grounds to good use. Coffee grounds are good for the soil as they add nitrogen to the compost pile. Compost that contains organic wastes like coffee grounds can also offer other benefits such as improving soil drainage and improving soil water retention.

Used coffee filters can also be added to the compost pile but only the simple paper ones. Filters that contain materials other than paper, such as plastic coating and oil-based ink, should not be used as they may contaminate the overall compost pile.

4. Paper Napkins and Towels

Paper napkins are carbon-based materials so they are great to use if you have too many "green" compost materials in the bin. They are fine to use in compost bins as long as they haven't been contaminated with any substances that would not be organic. For example, you shouldn't throw in any paper napkins or paper towels that have been used for wiping chemical-based cleaning products.

5. Nail Clippings

Yes, all those leftover nail clippings can also be tossed into the pile. They wouldn't necessarily add all that much bulk to the pile but are still considered a great source of nitrogen. Don't toss in any nail clippings that have remnants of nail polish or other grooming chemicals.

6. Dryer Lint

The dryer lint that accumulated in the dryer machine can also be used in the compost pile. The lint, however, should only come from 100% natural fabric. Do not include if you dry any clothes or other fabric-based materials that aren't fully natural.

7. Grass Clipping

Have a place where you need to mow the lawn on a regular basis? You can place the grass clipping in the compost pile as long as the lawn haven't been treated with any "toxic" chemicals likes pesticide and herbicide. You don't want to mess with the organic integrity of the compost by adding such materials to the pile. Other organic matter from the yard, such as dead leaves, can also be added as long as the above tip is taken into account.

8. Junk Mail

All those useless mails you get in the mailbox can be used as a compost ingredient but it's not a matter of tossing all the mails that have started to accumulate in the mailbox. You will need to vet through each mail and decide whether it's safe to use. For example, mails with plastic covers or fake plastic cards should not be used.

Once you have vetted through all the junk mail, you can then shred them into smaller pieces before they are tossed in. As a paper-based item, junk mails are considered a brown compost ingredient.

As you can see, there are so many different household wastes that can be used as compost. You can check out the more extensive list above for any organic waste that haven't been covered above.

Household Composting Tips for Beginners

Now that you know what can be composted, here are some other composting tips to know about to start your sustainability journey on the right note.

Maintain Dampness

Moisture is a crucial part of the composting process. A compost pile with too little or too much moisture can slow down the overall decomposing process. We would suggest maintaining a moisture content level of around 40 to 60% for optimal composting.

Use a Tumbling Compost Bin

If you are absolutely new to composting then we would suggest investing in a tumbling compost bin. These bins make it so much easier to "turn" the pile, which is important for allowing air circulation across the whole waste pile.

Keep the Pests and Rodents Away

The odor from the compost pile will most likely attract unwanted visitors to your compost pile, including mice and roaches. To prevent the pests and to get rid of them, we would suggest keeping the compost bin well-drained and placed in an area with partial-sun. Fresh food scraps should also not be too exposed. Try to place them deep into the compost pile to reduce any lingering odor.