Great news!!! There is a huge number of items that you can compost. But, you must know what to compost, and what not to compost. Identifying compostable materials is the first step of a successful composting project.
Almost any plant matter is a good candidate for composting. Look for yard, garden, and organic kitchen materials, and have not been exposed to chemical pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. For example, lawn grass clippings are great for composting… until it is treated.
For proper composting, use 4 parts Nitrogen (Green) materials, to 1 part Carbon (Brown) materials. More on the proper mix of greens and browns.
Banana peels, orange peels
Coffee grounds (it’s okay to toss in the paper filter)
Eggshells have plenty of calcium
Grass clippings, very high in nitrogen
Kitchen fruit scraps
Kitchen vegetable scraps
Leftover pizza – remove the pepperoni and sausage
Manures (not pet or human) in small amounts
Pasta and sauce (not the meatballs)
Seaweed(wash off the salt, if taken from the ocean)
Weeds, before going to seed
Branches and twigs, chop finely for quicker decomposition
Corn stalks, dried out
Dead, dried up weeds
Newspaper (black and white, no colored paper or colored inks)
Peanut shells, preferably unsalted
Shells from clams, lobsters, oysters, etc. Rinse and finely crush first, contains calcium.
Wood/fireplace ash – lots of potash, alkaline pH
Wood chips and wood shavings
Old mulch – wood, cocoa shells, pine bark
Peanut shells – break down slowly.
Tip: Shred materials before putting them into your composter. This creates more surface area for bacteria to do their job, and increases the rate of decomposition.
Brown or white paper bags
Cardboard core of rolls of wrapping paper
Corks from wine bottles – will decompose very, very slowly.
Hair trimming, yes human hair
Paper plates and napkins – white
Paper Towels, but not if used to wipe chemicals, oil, grease, etc.
Towel and toilet paper cardboard holders.
Stale bread, or feed the birds
Vegetable oil- in small amounts
White, 100% cotton t-shirts (no colors, no synthetic materials)
Note: Fireplace ash does not need to be composted. It is already broken down. However, many people mix a little fireplace ash into raw or finished compost. Emphasis is on “a little”.
Knowing what “not to compost” is as important as knowing what to compost. The following items are not compostable materials.
Avoid weeds with lots of seeds
Bones, unless finely crushed first.
Colored print material/inks – They can contain toxic chemicals.
Cooking fats, except small amounts of vegetable oil.
Dairy products, except in very limited quantity
Inorganic materials, any
Pet or human excrement, can harbor communicable diseases
Plastics – Do not toss in plastic bags, saran wrap etc. into the composter.
Poisonous plants like Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, or Poison Sumac.
Treated wood, contains toxins you do not want in you vegetable garden.
Walnut trees, any parts of this tree. It contains “jugoline”, toxic to plants.