90+ Surprising Things You Can Compost for a Sustainable Future

Home composting is an excellent option if you’re looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact and save money on expensive fertilizer.

In many people’s minds, when they think about composting, they picture an ugly scene of organic waste surrounded by flies and other insects crawling all over – not exactly appealing, right?!

Wrong! Learning how to do this right is quite simple, and it only takes some time for your garden bedding material to be effective enough.

In this blog post, we will list over 120 things that you can compost. This list includes items you can compost from the kitchen, bathroom, garden, kids’ room, laundry room, office, around the house and pet-related supplies.

This blog post will give you a better understanding of what can and cannot be composted and how home composting can benefit you, your plants, and the environment.

What is Compost?

food waste

Compost is made up of decomposed organic waste that is broken down into a soil-like substance. The composting process is done through the help of microorganisms, fungi, and bacteria.

Compost contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium carbonate, and humus. Humus is beneficial because it helps retain moisture in the soil and increases the water-holding capacity of sandy soils. Therefore, you can use the finished compost as a natural fertilizer for houseplants and gardens.

Composting has many benefits, including reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills, closing the nutrient cycle, and preventing air pollution. Composting is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help combat climate change.

Composting and the environment – why is it more important now than before?

Finished compost

As the world becomes more industrialized, there is an increased demand for products that are made from natural resources. This increased demand has led to deforestation and habitat loss.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 30% of what we throw away is composed of paper and wood products. When these materials decompose in a landfill, they release methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Composting can reduce our reliance on landfills and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Composting also helps close the nutrient cycle by returning nutrients back to the soil. This is important because it helps reduce soil erosion and clean our waterways.

Also, when organic waste decomposes, it releases nutrients essential for plant growth. Using compost in your garden beds or containers can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

Finally, composting also prevents air pollution. The process of decomposition emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, when plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, they convert it into oxygen. Therefore, by composting, you are helping to create a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone!

90+ things you can compost every day

Organic Material

Here are 93 things you can put on your compost list:

Things to compost in the kitchen

#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
1Food Scraps like avocado skin, potato, or banana peels✔️ 
2Fruits and vegetables✔️ 
3Corn Cobs✔️
4Tea Leaves✔️
5Leftover beer✔️
6Spoiled wine✔️
7Old spices and dried herbs✔️
8Bread✔️
9Burnt toast✔️
10Cooked plain pasta and rice✔️
11Freezer-burned vegetables✔️
12Gelatin✔️
13 Fruit and vegetable pulp from a juicer or food mill✔️
14Citrus and Onion✔️Cut in quarters before composting. Mix with browns & add a 6-inch layer of browns on top.
15Egg shells✔️Rinsed and crushed
16Paper egg cartons✔️
17Paper plates✔️Uncoated
18Wooden popsicle sticks✔️
19Wine corks✔️
20Chopsticks✔️
21Paper napkins✔️
22Flowers from bouquets✔️
23Pizza box and takeout boxes✔️That aren’t lined with petroleum-based wax
24Toothpicks or bamboo skewers✔️
25Compostable parchment paper✔️
26Coffee Filters✔️
27Tea bags✔️
28Stale cereal, crackers, and tortillas✔️
29Stale nuts and peanuts✔️
30Nutshells✔️
31Clam/muscle shells✔️

Things to compost in the bathroom

#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
32Toilet paper rolls✔️
33Hair from brushes✔️
34Hair clippings and bread trimmings✔️
35Nail clippings✔️
36Toilet paper✔️
37Paper towels✔️
38Tissues✔️
39Dental floss✔️Compostable
40Cotton balls✔️
41Natural fabric dryer lint✔️
42Old natural loofahs✔️
43Cardboard tampon applicators✔️Including used
44Soap scraps

Things to compost from the Backyard

Composting material
#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
45Fresh grass clippings✔️
46Yard trimmings✔️
47Flower cuttings✔️
48Seaweed✔️
49Fresh leaves✔️
50Weeds✔️
51Wood chips and sawdust✔️From untreated wood
52Hay and straw✔️
53Twigs✔️
54Used Potting soil/mix✔️
55Leftover peat or coir from seed starting✔️
56Dead insectsIncluding used
57Pine needles and cones
58Garden snail shells
59Fallen bird’s nests

Things to compost in the kids’ room

#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
60School projects made of paper or cardboard✔️
61Homework assignments✔️
62Pencil shavings✔️
63Paintbrush bristles✔️
64Sticky notes✔️
65Brown packing paper✔️
66Wool and White Cotton clothes and shirt threads✔️
67Ruined jeans✔️
68Confetti from a three-hole puncher✔️
69Paperback books✔️
70Eraser rubbings✔️
71Rope✔️

things to compost from around the house

#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
72Houseplants✔️
73Rotting Halloween pumpkin✔️
74Uncoated paper and cardboard✔️Shredded and ink-free
75Paper bags✔️
76Natural fibers (cotton, linen, wool)✔️
77Burlap sacks✔️
78Used matches✔️
79Bamboo✔️
80Natural silk curtains✔️
81Envelops without plastic windows✔️
82Leather✔️
83Vacuum bag wastes✔️
84Fireplace ashes✔️

Things to compost from pet related items

#Compost ItemGreenBrownComments
85Dry dog or cat food✔️
86Rabbit or Birdcage “waste”✔️
87Animal manures (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, but not a dog or cat manure)✔️
88Aquarium plants✔️
89Pet fur hair✔️
90Feathers✔️
91Wood shavings from horse bedding✔️
92Chicken bedding✔️
93Rabbit/Guinea Pig bedding✔️

What can not be composted?

While there are many things that you can compost, there are also some things that you should not compost. These items can either take a long time to break down, or they can attract pests.

Some examples of things that you should not compost include:

  1. Meat
  2. Fish
  3. Dairy products
  4. Fats and oils
  5. Pet waste (cat and dog poop)
  6. Pet litter
  7. Weed seeds
  8. Diseased Plants
  9. Fatty or oily foods
  10. Coal or charcoal
  11. Yard waste that has been treated with chemicals
  12. Glass, metal, or plastics
  13. Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  14. Eggs
  15. Baby wipes
  16. Cigarettes butts or tobacco
  17. Rugs, carpets
  18. Styrofoam meat trays

Composting Basics

Decomposition process

The composting process breaks down organic waste into a soil-like substance in a compost pile. This soil-like substance can then be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants, garden beds, and vegetable garden. There are four essential ingredients to have a successful compost: water, browns, greens, and oxygen.

Water:

To ensure the wonderful work of breaking down food scraps into compost is done as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s essential to give your pile a good watering every now and then.

Without water present, in an already wet environment, you’ll either end up with slow-going decay or potentially hot spots where, in extreme cases, fires can start quickly due to high temperatures getting out of control! Plus, regular moisture levels will regulate airflow, preventing problems like smells from building up too far before you notice them.

Browns:

You can miss many things when building a compost pile, but one thing you should never do is forget about the browns!

The “brown” in your compost bin provides vital energy for microbes and helps prevent overly liquid or clumpy material. It is a dry and carbon rich material. Examples of browns include dead leaves, twigs, and wood chips. Browns provide energy for the microorganisms that break down the organic matter.

Greens:

Grass Clippings

Greens are the most frequently thought of materials for a pile. These products often have characteristics opposite those found in browns. They provide higher levels of nitrogen and protein and lower carbon content. The nitrogen to carbon ratio in green waste is around 30:1.

Greens are usually “wet” and are needed by the beneficial composting organisms that are fast-growing on the organic matter within an enclosed environment, such as what’s happening inside your compost heap when they’re working away!

Green waste includes fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Greens provide protein for the microorganisms that break down the organic matter.

Oxygen:

During the composting process, the aerobic organisms that turn food scraps and garden waste into compost require oxygen to support their life.

They get it from air flowing through the pile or trapped within gaps throughout its structure. Aerating your compost pile will help it break down faster and create an environment perfect for the aerobic microorganisms that turn the food waste into dirt.

Getting started with composting

Composting is easy, and there are many ways to do it. If you have a backyard, you can start a compost pile. You can also purchase a compost bin or tumbler. For composting in an apartment, there are great electric composters that you can use even on your kitchen countertop.

Creating a Home Compost Pile

If you are starting a compost pile, you will need to gather some compost ingredients. You will need browns and greens, as well as water. Once you have gathered your materials, it’s time to start layering!

Alternate between layers of browns and greens, and make sure each layer is moist. You can use a garden hose or a spray bottle to add water to your compost bin.

Once you have started your compost pile, it’s vital to turn it every week or even less in some cases. This helps aerate the compost and speeds up the decomposition process. After about six weeks, your compost should be ready to use!

Your finished compost will look like dark, crumbly dirt. It will have an earthy smell and be free of any recognizable pieces of food or garden waste.

Using a compost bin or a tumbler

Compost process

If you are using a bin or tumbler, the process is similar to starting a compost pile. You can still use a compost bin when l

You will need to add browns, greens, and water to your bin.

There are a few key differences between compost bins and compost tumblers.

  • First, compost bins are typically larger than compost tumblers.
  • Compost bins also require manual turning, while compost tumblers do not.
  • Compost bins are cheaper than compost tumblers, but they also take longer to break down food waste.
  • Compost tumblers are more expensive but faster and easier to use.

Make sure that the lid of your compost bin or tumbler is closed tightly. This will help keep critters out and moisture in.

Using a small countertop composter

If you live in an apartment or do not have a lot of space, you can use a small countertop composter. These composters are typically small enough to fit on a kitchen counter or in a small cabinet. The process is the same as adding green and brown materials to your compost pile, bin, or tumbler.

Get our how-to guide for composting in an apartment.

What is the ratio of brown to green in compost?

worms in compost

I didn’t know this at first, but a compost pile has an ideal ratio of brown to green materials. Most experts recommend a ratio of 3-4 parts brown material to 1 part green material.

However, this will vary depending on the materials you are using and the moisture content of your compost pile. Your compost pile will smell bad if you have more greens than browns. If you have more browns than greens, your compost will take longer to break down.

It is also vital to ensure that each layer is moist before adding the next layer. You can use a garden hose or a spray bottle to add water to your compost pile.

If you are not sure, it is always better to err on the side of too much brown material rather than too much green material. This is because green materials are wet and high in nitrogen, which can cause problems if there is too much of it in the compost pile.

Conclusion

Now that you know what you can compost, the benefits of composting, and some tips on how to get started, we hope that you will give it a try! Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and help your garden thrive. If you have any questions about composting, feel free to leave us a comment below.