80 Items You Can Compost

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Feb 26, 2012 | Sayward Rebhal

Joi/FlickrHome composting isn’t just for farmers anymore! The practice is becoming increasingly popular among urban environmentalists who are eager to cut their landfill contributions: from apartment dwellers growing gardens on top of NYC roofing, to folks who participate in their local municipal compost program, to homeowners looking to turn their backyards into teeny tiny sustainable city farms. Composting is a key component of the eco-friendly puzzle, because it takes waste that’s destined for landfills and turns it into usable, nutrient-rich soil perfect for gardening. Most people focus on kitchen scraps, but that’s just the tip of the composting iceberg. Did you know you could also include the following?

  1. Dryer lint

  2. “Dust bunnies”

  3. The insides of a vacuum bag (empty the bag into the compost bin)

  4. The contents of your dustpan (just use discretion)

  5. Coffee grounds

  6. Coffee filters

  7. Tea bags/loose leaf tea

  8. Soy/rice/almond/etc milk and other dairy substitutes

  9. Nut shells (but not walnut, which may be toxic to plants)

  10. Pumpkin/sunflower/sesame seeds (chop to ensure they don’t grow)

11.  Avocado pits (chop them up so they won’t sprout)

12.  Pickles

13.  Stale tortilla chips/potato chips

14.  Stale crackers

15.  Crumbs (bread or other baked goods)

16.  Old breakfast cereal

17.  Bran (wheat or oat, etc)

18.  Seaweed/nori/kelp

19.  Tofu/tempeh

20.  Frozen fruits and vegetables

21.  Expired jam or jelly

22.  Egg shells

23.  Stale Halloween candy and old nutrition/protein bars

24.  Popcorn kernels (post-popping, the ones that didn’t make it)

25.  Old herbs and spices

26.  Cooked rice

27.  Cooked pasta

28.  Oatmeal

29.  Peanut shells

30.  Booze (beer and wine)

31.  Wine corks

32.  Cardboard egg cartons 

34.  Toothpicks

35.  Q-tips (not the plastic ones)

36.  Bamboo skewers

37.  Matches

38.  Sawdust

39.  Pencil shavings

40.  Fireplace ash (fully extinguished and cooled)

41.  Burlap sacks

42.  Natural cotton or wool clothes, cut into strips

43.  Paper towels

44.  Paper napkins

45.  Paper tablecloths

46.  Paper plates (non wax- or plastic-coated)

47.  Crepe paper streamers

48.  Holiday wreaths

49.  Balloons (latex only)

50.  Raffia fibers (wrapping or decoration)

51.  Excelsior (wood wool)

52.  Old potpourri

53.  Dried flowers

54.  Fresh flowers

55.  Dead (not diseased) houseplants or their dropped leaves

56.  Human hair (from a home haircut or saved from the barber shop)

57.  Toenail clippings

58.  Trimmings from an electric razor

59.  Pet hair

60.  Domestic bird and bunny droppings

61.  Feathers

62.  Fish food

63.  Aquatic plants (from aquariums)

64.  Dog food

65.  Rawhide dog chews

66.  Ratty old rope

67.  The dead flies on the windowsill

68.  Pizza boxes and cereal boxes (shredded first)

69.  Toilet paper and paper towel rolls (shredded first)

70.  Paper muffin/cupcake cups

71.  Cellophane bags (real cellophane, not regular clear plastic)

72.  Kleenex (including used)

73.  Condoms (latex only)

74.  Old loofas (real, not synthetic)

75.  Cotton balls

76.  Tampon applicators (cardboard, not plastic) and tampons (including used)

77.  Newspaper

78.  Junk mail

79.  Old business cards (not the glossy ones)

80.  Old masking tape

81.  White glue/plain paste.

Happy composting, everyone. Please tell us what YOU compost!

Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx

Updated March 7, 2018.

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