15 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Compost

April 26, 2022

Composting is gaining serious popularity with newfound knowledge of the effects of food waste on our climate. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, each year, U.S. food loss and waste embodies 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (million MTCO2e) GHG emissions (excluding landfill emissions)—equal to the annual CO2 emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants.  

So, how does the average everyday person fix such an impossible issue? Composting, growing your own food, and using your compost to grow your own food is an excellent way to make a significant impact. Composting can be quite confusing, difficult, and an ultimately messy method which many people do not know how to properly execute. But, I can personally attest that composting is not as daunting as it may seem. It is a learning experience to say the least, but knowing that you are helping your planet makes the work worth it. Other than food waste what can one compost to live even less wastefully? Below are fifteen things that are commonly overlooked as items to add to your backyard or countertop compost pile.

  1. Human hair, avoid if using harsh dyes that you would not want in your food!
  2. Cardboard and brown shopping bags, avoid if there is ink printed on, unless noted or known that the ink is soy or vegetable based, which can usually be found by asking company or a simple internet search.
  3. If your family eats eggs, remember that eggshells are compostable! (Not the eggs, though.) Their cardboard carton can also be tossed in to the compost pile.
  4. Dryer lint and old clothes: They must be made from 100% natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, bamboo fabrichemp fabric, silk, cashmere or Tencel. No polyester, nylon, or Lycra, even in the smallest blend.
  5. Wood: shavings, toothpicks, chopsticks, skewers.
  6. Coffee grounds/ loose leaf tea, must be loose as pods or bags can sometimes have harmful chemicals.
  7. Soured beer, liquor, and wine.
  8. Real wine corks: Chopped into relatively small bits.
  9. Fingernail clippings
  10. Used facial tissues: But avoid the ones you’ve used when you’ve been sick / had a cold.
  11. Spent matches
  12. Natural potpourri
  13. Dirt and dust bunnies: Those picked up by your broom, not vacuum, which also could have picked up synthetic carpet fibers and more.
  14. Unwaxed, organic string, thread and twine
  15. Cupcake and muffin paper wrappers, paper cups without waxy linings

These are just a few alternative options other than food waste to add to your pile; Happy composting!

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Photo: Neslihan Gudaydin

Abbey Serio
Abbey is a recent college graduate based in Southern California who is extremely passionate about sustainability and zero waste. She has been vegan for over 4 years and loves animals. In her free time Abbey can be found hiking, reading, listening to music, experimenting with new vegan recipes, gardening, and spending time with friends and family. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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