I’ve been composting at home for a while now and my garden loves me for it. But when you’re just starting out, you might be surprised by the unusual things you can compost. So I’ve compiled this list of some more unusual items you can compost at home that perhaps you have never thought of.
Table of Contents
- 1. Hair and Fur
- 2. Nail Clippings
- 3. Newspaper
- 4. Old Books
- 5. Greeting Cards
- 6. Cereal Boxes
- 7. Cardboard Egg Cartons
- 8. Paper Plates
- 9. Cardboard Tubes
- 10. Dryer Lint
- 11. Vacuum Cleaner Dust
- 12. Vacuum Cleaner Bags
- 13. Wine Corks
- 14. Toothpicks
- 15. Used Matches
- 16. Bamboo Skewers
- 17. Sawdust
- 18. Wood Chips
- 19. Fireplace Ash
- 20. Old Potting Soil
- 21. Old Blankets
- 22. Candle Stubs
- 23. Wool Sweaters
- 24. Old Socks
- 25. Dry Pet Food
- 26. Tea Bags
- 27. Coffee Grounds
- 28. Spices
- 29. Eggshells
- 30. Soap
1. Hair and Fur
Human hair and fur from pets can be added to the compost pile. I have long-haired guinea pigs, an oodle dog, and children who I give regular haircuts to.
It’s great to know I can put the hair and fur in the compost and over time it will add nutrients to my soil.
2. Nail Clippings
This one sounds like a lot of effort but technically you can compost nail clippings – should you wish to.
Old newspapers can be shredded or added in single-sheet layers into the compost bin. If you put the newspaper in sheet layers, you should add other organic materials such as food scraps or green garden waste between layers to help it break down.
Leave out any glossy printed additions or advertisements, as the printing materials used on these are not good for composting.
4. Old Books
Books that are beyond donating to charity shops can be torn up and added to the compost. Just make sure the covers are free from plastic.
If you’re concerned about getting rid of old books in this way – don’t be. There are many charity shops that toss books into landfill because they are inundated with unwanted books. I’ve witnessed this firsthand. So you are actually solving a problem by composting old books that are no longer in good condition.
5. Greeting Cards
Christmas and birthday cards that are free from any form of coating can be composted. Give them a quick tear-up and toss them in the compost bin.
6. Cereal Boxes
Shred your cereal boxes and pop them in the compost. Get the kids involved with this one and turn it into a game!
7. Cardboard Egg Cartons
Shred your cardboard egg cartons and add them to the compost bin.
8. Paper Plates
Paper plates that have not been coated in wax or plastic, can be composted. That goes for paper bowls and cups also. Just look out for non-coated paper tableware and your next post-guest clean-up will be a breeze.
9. Cardboard Tubes
The cardboard tubes from paper towel, plastic wrap (Saran Wrap), aluminium foil, toilet paper, and wrapping paper can all be composted.
10. Dryer Lint
The lint from your dryer can be composted provided you don’t use dryer sheets (which are a synthetic product and tiny particles end up in dryer lint).
11. Vacuum Cleaner Dust
Add your vacuum cleaner dust to the compost bin. Generally, we vacuum organic matter such as dust, skin particles, hair, dirt, and so forth, all of which are all perfectly good compost material. If you do happen to vacuum inorganic materials such as bits of plastic, then they shouldn’t be added to the compost.
12. Vacuum Cleaner Bags
Vacuum cleaner bags can be composted provided there are no non-compostable items in the bag. For example, the odd plastic hair tie or piece of lego you accidentally vacuumed, or is that just me?
13. Wine Corks
Cork is a natural product, making wine corks safe to compost. Cork adds nitrogen to the compost mix.
Toothpicks can be composted. The easiest way I remember this is to toss them in with my kitchen scraps bin before the whole thing gets emptied into the compost.
15. Used Matches
If you are using matches, you can add used matches to the compost where they will add carbon.
16. Bamboo Skewers
Break them up into smaller pieces and add bamboo skewers to your compost. They’ll add carbon to the mix and help to reduce odors.
Untreated wood sawdust can be composted and it will add carbon to the mix and reduce smells.
18. Wood Chips
Untreated wood chips are considered a “brown” material in composting and can be added to any compost pile. They will break down slowly over time, adding carbon and fiber to the compost. Just remember to make sure the wood chips are not chemically treated. I use wood shavings for my guinea pig bedding which is added to the compost after use.
19. Fireplace Ash
Both indoor and outdoor fireplace ash can be collected and added to the compost pile. Wood ash helps reduce odors and adds potassium to the mix.
20. Old Potting Soil
Potting soil that has lost its nutrients due to age or drying out beyond use, can be added to the compost pile where it will be turned into fertile compost your soil will love.
21. Old Blankets
Blankets made with natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool, hemp, and bamboo that are too old for a charity donation can be cut into small strips and composted. For larger pieces of material, be sure to layer in other materials such as food scraps and green waste to help the blanket material to break down.
22. Candle Stubs
Beeswax and soy wax candle stubs can be added to the compost pile in small pieces. They add beneficial carbon. Paraffin, on the other hand, is not compostable, so just know what your candle is made from first before composting it.
23. Wool Sweaters
Made from a natural fiber, old wool sweaters beyond a second life elsewhere can be added to your compost. Cut them up into small pieces to help them compost quickly and they will add carbon and help to reduce compost smells.
24. Old Socks
Worn and holey socks made with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, bamboo, and hemp can be added to the compost pile. Cut them up into smaller pieces to help them break down quickly in your compost. They will break down over time and add carbon to the mix.
25. Dry Pet Food
Dry pet food your dog or cat won’t eat can be composted. It adds nitrogen to the compost mix.
26. Tea Bags
Used tea bags can be composted, as long as they are made of natural materials like cotton or paper. They add nitrogen and other nutrients to the compost pile.
There is some controversy over teabags with staples which are generally considered non-compostable.
There are plenty of teabags sold without the use of a staple.
And for those that do have a staple, you can either remove the staple from the teabag before composting or you can go ahead and toss the whole thing in the compost and know that the staple will eventually dissolve by rusting first.
27. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are a great addition to the compost pile. They are high in nitrogen, which helps to break down other materials.
You can also add used coffee grounds directly to your garden though I usually prefer to compost them first.
Spices that are old and expired or just no longer used by you can be composted like other foods. This included dried herbs as well as fresh, also salt, pepper, chili flakes and even sugar.
If you are not already composting eggshells, it’s very easy to do. The shells are high in calcium, which can help to improve the quality of the soil. To help the eggshells break down faster, you can crush them into smaller pieces.
But if you don’t want to crush them up each time, which is my preference, just pop them in as they are and you can expect a few eggshells throughout your compost mix.
Biodegradable kinds of soap can be composted. So those small and annoying bits of soap ends can be turned into food for your soil and kept out of the bin.
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