The basics of composting are simple. Most people know they can compost fruit and vegetable peels, leaves, and grass clippings. But what about that tea bag you used this morning? Or the fur that collects in the brush when you groom your cat?
The following list is meant to get you thinking about your compost possibilities. Not every item on the list is for everyone, and that's fine. Imagine how much trash we could prevent from going into the landfills if each of us just decided to compost a few more things. Here are 75 ideas to get you started.
From the Kitchen
1. Coffee grounds and filters 2. Tea bags 3. Used paper napkins 4. Pizza boxes, ripped into smaller pieces 5. Paper bags, either ripped or balled up 6. The crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors 7. Plain cooked pasta 8. Plain cooked rice 9. Stale bread 10. Paper towel rolls 11. Stale saltine crackers 12. Stale cereal 13. Used paper plates (as long as they don't have a waxy coating) 14. Cellophane bags (be sure it's really Cellophane and not just clear plasticóthere's a difference.) 15. Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants) 16. Old herbs and spices 17. Stale pretzels 18. Pizza crusts 19. Cereal boxes (tear them into smaller pieces first) 20. Wine corks 21. Moldy cheese 22. Melted ice cream 23. Old jelly, jam, or preserves 24. Stale beer and wine 25. Paper egg cartons 26. Toothpicks 27. Bamboo skewers 28. Paper cupcake or muffin cups
From the Bathroom
29. Used facial tissues 30. Hair from your hairbrush 31. Toilet paper rolls 32. Old loofahs 33. Nail clippings 34. Urine 35. 100% Cotton cotton balls 36. Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard (not plastic) sticks
It might be a good idea to bury these items in your pile. Just sayin'.
37. Cardboard tampon applicators 38. Latex condoms
From the Laundry Room
39. Dryer lint 40. Old/stained cotton clothingórip or cut it into smaller pieces 41. Old wool clothingórip or cut it into smaller pieces
From the Office
42. Bills and other documents you've shredded 43. Envelopes (minus the plastic window) 44. Pencil shavings 45. Sticky notes 46. Business cards (as long as they're not glossy) 47. Receipts
Around the House
48. Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister 49. Newspapers (shredded or torn into smaller pieces) 50. Subscription cards from magazines 51. Leaves trimmed from houseplants 52. Dead houseplants and their soil 53. Flowers from floral arrangements 54. Natural potpourri 55. Used matches 56. Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit
Party and Holiday Supplies
57. Wrapping paper rolls 58. Paper table cloths 59. Crepe paper streamers 60. Latex balloons 61. Raffia 62. Excelsior 63. Jack o' Lanterns 64. Those hay bales you used as part of your outdoor fall decor 65. Natural holiday wreaths 66. Your Christmas tree. Chop it up with some pruners first (or use a wood chipper, if you have one...) 67. Evergreen garlands
68. Fur from the dog or cat brush 69. Droppings and bedding from your rabbit/gerbil/hamsters, etc. 70. Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage 71. Feathers 72. Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits) 73. Rawhide dog chews 74. Fish food 75. Dry dog or cat food
I know that the longer I've had a compost pile, the more likely I've been to take a second look at something I was preparing to throw in the trash. "Hmm. Can I compost this?" is a frequent question in my house. And, as you can see, it's surprising how often you can answer "Yes!"