Lifestyle, Think Globally Act Locally

Compostable Things

When my boyfriend Mark and I went to Seattle, there were three bins: one for waste, another for compost, and another for recyclable paper and plastics.  The compost bin was a new thing for us because we don’t see it often in public/private places around Southern California. The state of Washington is way ahead of us… so, let’s catch up.

How does compost work? First, the grinder chops up the material into smaller pieces (super small pieces). Then, the magnet removes any metal from small pieces. After that, oxygen is vented through the piled material for nine weeks. After the nine weeks, a machine sifts the pile through a machine again to remove the larger material. And finally, the product becomes nutrient-rich soil that can be reused for farms, gardens, yards, etc.

Why compost? It is simple, more compost = less waste and landfill. Most people understand the common compostable things such as fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, and leaves. What information we are lacking in is what else can be compost? The following list is as much as I could research about what can be compost. Some on the list are not for everyone, but I highly recommend composting because we can prevent the items on the list from going to landfills which would in turn help our environment.

  1. To-go containers
  2. Clear cups and lids
  3. Beverage trays
  4. Tully’s coffee cups
  5. Coca-Cola cups (including lids and straws)
  6. Wood stir sticks
  7. Wood chopsticks
  8. Sugar packets
  9. Biodegradable cutlery
  10. Straws
  11. Food scraps
  12. Fruits and vegetables
  13. Paper napkins
  14. Food liners
  15. Meat and bones
  16. Tea bags
  17. Used paper napkins
  18. Coffee grounds
  19. Coffee filters
  20. Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage
  21. Feathers
  22. Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits)
  23. Rawhide dog chews
  24. Fish food
  25. Dry dog or cat food
  26. Crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors
  27. Plain cooked pasta
  28. Plain cooked rice
  29. Stale bread
  30. Paper towel rolls
  31. Hair from your hairbrush
  32. Stale saltine crackers
  33. Toilet paper roll
  34. Stale cereal
  35. Used facial tissues
  36. Moldy cheese
  37. Melted ice cream
  38. Old jelly and jam
  39. Stale beer and wine
  40. Paper egg carton
  41. Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants)
  42. Old herbs and spices
  43. Old herbs and spices
  44. Stale pretzels
  45. Pizza crusts
  46. Wine corks
  47. Toothpicks
  48. Bamboo skewers
  49. Old loofahs
  50. Nail clippings
  51. 100% Cotton cotton balls
  52. Cardboard tampon applicators
  53. Dryer lint
  54. Receipts
  55. Contents of vacuum cleaner bag or canister
  56. Pencil shavings
  57. Leaves trimmed from house plants
  58. Ashes from fireplace
  59. Droppings from hamsters and other small pets
  60. Ashes/residue from BBQ grill or outdoor fire pit
  61. Party and holiday supplies
  62. Dead houseplants and their soil
  63. Flowers from floral arrangements/bouquets
  64. Natural potpourri
  65. Paper streamers
  66. Wrapping paper rolls
  67. Latex balloons (I was surprised about this one too!)
  68. Used matches
  69. Fur from the dog or cat brush
  70. Raffia (for all my Tahitian dancing friends)
  71. Jack O’Lanterns
  72. Paper cupcake or muffin cups

…And here are several more compostable things that require shredding or cutting up into smaller pieces:

  • Cereal boxes
  • Sticky notes
  • Cellophane bags (make sure it is Cellophane and not plastic—there’s a difference!)
  • Envelopes (minus the plastic window)
  • Newspaper
  • Old/stained cotton clothing (cut into smaller pieces)
  • Old wool
  • Holiday wreaths
  • Christmas trees
  • Used paper plates (as long as they don’t have a waxy coating)
  • Business cards (as long as they are not glossy)
  • Paperbags
  • Subscription cards from magazines

If you ever wonder what you cannot compost, here are a few on that list of WHAT NOT TO THROW IN THE COMPOST PILE:

  • Liquids – pour liquids in the drain, excess moisture inhibits aerobic decomposition
  • Dairy cartons
  • Used tissue – bodily wastes contaminate compost
  • Paint or glue-soiled paper – inorganic materials contaminate compost
  • Coffee cup lids that are NOT marked “ecotainer”
  • Non-approved compostable plastics – for example, non-compostable cutlery

Still unfamiliar with the terms? Don’t worry… based on my personal experience, I know that diving into the energy efficient, environmentally friendly lifestyle is like that at first. So, let me help you by defining a few things:



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