Can I Compost?
is managing decay, "What can I compost?" is an easy question to answer.
Just ask yourself, "Does this
If you have the space and the suitable environment, composting can be
easy a throwing virtually anything that decays into a pile and
waiting. Eventually you will have compost.
Cotton clothing, all-leather purses, old wooden chairs--all this could
But let's be real.
Good, practical compost material can be divided into 3
categories: yes, no and maybe.
What Can I Compost Definitely?
Anything that decays quickly, easily and which doesn't have any harmful
chemical or toxins.
- Garden clippings
- Food scraps
- Lawn clippings
- Newspapers (most use
soy-based dyes now)
- Shredded office documents
- Egg cartons
- Used paper towels
- Hair (brush that dog!)
- Grass (if mixed so that it
doesn't clump into a slimy
- Leaves (if mixed so that
they don't clump into a
- Animal manure
- Seaweed (but don't use
seaweed exclusively because it
may make salty compost)
- Wood chips
- Wood ash (small amounts)
- Dryer lint
- Vacuum cleaner contents (if
you're sure you didn't
vacuum non-organic bits)
What Can I Compost Under the Right Circumstances?
Some composting depends on your particular compost
circumstances. Do you have enough room for piles that take a
long time to decompose? Is your pile needing more green
matter or more brown? What will you do with the compost when
it is done? Will your compost be used for an ornamental
garden or a food-producing garden? How hot will you make sure
your pile gets?
- Junk Mail (if the paper is
not treated and no plastic
window from the envelopes)
- Feces (Most sources will
tell you to never, ever
compost human feces, and yet if you are very careful to create the
environment that will definitely kill pathogens, human feces can be
composted. If you want to practice managing your pile
carefully, try starting with composting dog or cat feces, or try
the Bokashi Dog Feces composter.)
- Branches from your garden
(branches will take a long time
to decompose). You may need to use a chipper to speed the
process, but this is not a "green" as just setting them in a pile)
- Weeds from garden (best if
you have a hot pile to
kill the seeds)
- Meat, bones, diary, animal
products (You will find it
stated everywhere that it is not advised to put animal products in a
compost pile, and yet I have done it when I lived in the
country. Much of the meat products were scavenged by other
animals, which was fine with me; the rest composted nicely. I
would not put animal products in my city compost pile because I don't
want the stink or the rodents (especially rats or dogs digging in my
pile), but if you have a country pile away from your house, go ahead
- Acidic garden materials such
as pine needles and oak
leaves (use these in small amounts unless you want an acidic compost
for acid loving plants)
What Should I Never Compost?
Anything that doesn't decay or products with harmful chemicals that you
don't want added to your garden.
- Anything plastic
- Anything metal
- Anything ceramic
- Household chemicals
- Treated wood (for example,
scrap wood from home
- Laminated cardboard (like
milk or juice containers)
- Diseased garden clippings
(especially with pests or
With the very broad guideline of kitchen or garden waste, and the
useful question "what decays quickly and easily?", what can I
compost becomes an easy question to answer.
The next step to learning to compost is to get the guidelines to
building you compost