There are excellent reasons why you should make compost at home instead of throwing away your rubbish. Finding space for landfills is becoming a worldwide challenge, and throwing away rubbish that could become compost is like throwing away money.
Compost is an essential ingredient of a healthy garden. During the composting process, decaying material releases nutrients in a form that plants can absorb. If you are looking for a natural, organic way to make your garden flourish, compost is the perfect alternative to chemical fertilizers. Not only does compost return minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to the ground, but it also has a variety of trace elements and improves the water retention and soil texture in your planting beds.
Why would anyone want to throw away good compostable material only to buy expensive chemical fertilizers for their garden? One of the reasons people do this is because they don’t realize how many items which they discard in their household could be composted instead.
Here are 39 items you should add to your compost instead of throwing them away.
Garden Refuse is the Bulk of Your Compost
The first four items on our list are common-sense and will make up the largest part of your compost. However, if you want your compost heap or bin to work efficiently, it’s important to process your garden refuse in the right way.
#1. Grass clippings are great to add bulk to your compost pile, but make sure to layer them with rough materials such as leaves and twigs so that the pile can breathe.
#2. The cuttings from plants which you prune can go into the compost. Hard wood takes a long time to compost; try to cut branches into smaller pieces or use a wood chipper to chop them up.
#3. Weeds are the bane of every gardener’s life. You can put the weeds you pull out of your planting beds into the compost, but only if they haven’t gone to seed. If you put mature weeds on your compost heap, the seeds will sprout wherever you spread the compost.
#4. Animal manure. You can add manure from chickens, cattle, and all vegetarian animals to your compost. Since raw manure will burn the roots of plants, it’s a good idea to let it decompose in the compost before you spread it around plants.
Kitchen Refuse That You Can Compost
A lot of what we eat is plant-based, so it makes sense to add kitchen refuse to your compost heap. However, vegetables that exceeded their shelf life and the inedible parts of plants such as fruit stones and stems are not the only things that you can put in the compost; some of the items on this list might surprise you.
#5. When you’re cooking, don’t pour the vegetable water down the drain; add it to your compost instead. A compost heap needs moisture to work efficiently and leftover water from your cooking pots is rich in minerals.
#6. Egg shells add calcium to your compost. Plants need calcium to strengthen their cell walls.
#7. Coffee and tea. Coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, tea leaves, and tea bags add nitrogen to the soil and offer the benefit of improving the soil texture and helping to keep moisture in the ground.
#8. Spoiled milk and milk products. You can add sour milk, ice cream, yogurt, moldy cheese, and any other milk-based food to the compost. Not only will it add calcium to the soil, but spoiled milk also acts as a compost accelerator and a natural pesticide. Milk is especially useful against aphids and powdery mildew.
#9. Nutshells compost slowly and add texture to the soil. Avoid walnut shells in the compost though; juglone, a chemical abundant in walnut shells, inhibits plant growth.
#10. Old herbs and spices. When you tidy up the pantry, throw away expired herbs and spices in the compost.
#11. Sugar. You can throw old candy, jams, and other sugary food in the compost. The sugar will naturally break down and become an energy source for your plants.
#12. You can add fat and grease to your compost in moderation, but don’t pour it all in one spot. If you add too much oil to the compost at once, it will start rotting.
#13. You can add animal bones to your compost but try to bury them in the compost pile to avoid attracting vermin. Bones are a rich source of phosphorous, one of the three main nutrients for plant life.
#14. Spoiled starches such as pasta, rice, and other grains are safe to add to the compost that will decompose quickly.
#15. Animal blood is an excellent source of nitrogen for your plants and when poured on decaying plant material, it acts as a compost accelerator.
#16. Disposable wood such as chopsticks, toothpicks, wooden kebab sticks, and coffee stirrers will decompose in the compost.
#17. Kitchen paper such as paper towels, paper bags, unwaxed paper plates, paper serviettes, unwaxed takeout boxes, and cupcake liners are made of shredded plant fibers, and when moistened, they compost in a short time.
Bathroom Items That Will Decompose in the Compost
The bathroom is another plentiful source of compostable material in your home. Although some people are squeamish about putting personal items in the compost, remember the adage that if it lived, it can live again as compost. Organic matter makes nourishing compost, and once that matter has decomposed, the items on this list are safe to use as fertilizer.
#18. You can put hair pulled from your hairbrush or the sweepings after you had a haircut into the compost.
#19. Nail clippings make good compost.
#20. Q-tips, cotton wipes, and cotton balls are organic and can go in the compost. If you use Q-tips, try to buy the type with on a paper stick. Otherwise, snip off and discard the plastic stick before you put the ends in the compost.
#21. Tissues, new or used, can go into the compost bin.
#22. If you’re still using a plastic toothbrush, consider replacing it with a bamboo one instead. Plastic toothbrushes will stay in landfills for at least three generations, while you can put your used bamboo toothbrush in the compost and use the decomposed fertilizer in your garden next summer.
#23. Every household abundantly produces urine. Although you might balk at the thought of putting it on your vegetables, unless you’re suffering from an illness such as hepatitis, urine is sterile and completely safe to add it to your compost. Gardeners who use it for fertilizer call urine ‘liquid gold’ and science backs them up. Urine is an excellent source of nitrogen, and plants fertilized with urine-rich compost are healthier than plants fed with chemical fertilizers.
#24. Ivory and castile soap. You can add leftover slivers to the compost.
Compostable Materials Around the House
Now that we’ve dealt with compostable materials in the kitchen and bathroom, it’s time to have a look around the rest of the house.
#25. Add dryer lint from the laundry room to your compost. It doesn’t matter if all the fibers aren’t organic; synthetic fibers such as rayon might take longer to break down, but they will improve the soil texture until they do.
#26. Sweep up dead insects from the floor and window ledges and add them to the compost.
#27. Pet droppings and bedding. If you have a hamster, parrot, guinea pig, or another small animal, put their droppings and used bedding material in the compost.
#28. Household dust. You can empty your dustpan and the vacuum cleaner bag directly into the compost.
#29. Aquarium water from your fish tank is an excellent source of nitrates. You can also add water plants and algae from your fish tank to the compost.
#30. If you have a home carpentry workshop, collect the sawdust and add it to the compost.
#31. Leather is organic, and you can compost it. Instead of throwing it away, put your old shoes, leather belt, and handbag in the compost.
#32. Clothes made of organic materials such as wool, silk, and cotton will break down in the compost. To speed up the process, tear cloth into strips.
#33. Spent matches are a good source of carbon for your compost and they will decompose quickly.
#34. Natural wine corks are a form of wood and you can add them to the compost.
#35. Festive decorations. Your Christmas tree, Halloween pumpkin, flower arrangements, pinecones, and all other natural festive decorations can go in the compost when the holiday is over.
#36. Leftover alcohol. Emptying the dregs from beer bottles and wine glasses? Pour it in the compost.
#37. Empty your pencil sharpener in the compost. Contrary to popular belief, pencils don’t contain lead. Pencil shavings consist of wood and graphite; both are a source of carbon for your compost.
#38. Ashes from the fireplace. Ash is a first-rate source of carbon for your garden but adding too much ash to your compost can lower the pH and make your soil acidic. If you’re concerned about the pH, add bone meal to the compost.
#39. Junk mail, cardboard boxes, old bills, wrapping paper, party decorations, old books, magazines, and newspapers. Paper makes up a substantial volume of the things that we throw away every day. Instead of consigning it to the dustbin, shred your paper and add it to the compost.
Making compost is an excellent way to put back into nature what we take out. By throwing away fewer things, we lessen the need for landfills and leave a smaller footprint on the planet.
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