weird things you can compost

If you’re thinking about switching to a zero waste lifestyle, a good place to start is your trash. Once you start observing what you’re throwing away, you can investigate reusable alternatives and phase out their disposable counterparts.

This was exactly how I started taking baby steps towards zero waste. When I started noticing what I was throwing away, I was surprised to find that not only was I throwing away a lot of plastic, disposable products, but I was throwing away some things that belonged in my compost! I couldn’t believe that I had been putting these compostable items in my trash for so long.

Don’t make the same mistake I did, start composting these 10 items:

  1. Dryer Lint: Cleaning your lint trap is a must for safety, but did you know that it is compostable? You could also repurpose your lint as a zero waste fire starter (here is a tutorial).
  2. Ice Cream Carton: We love making our own ice cream, but sometimes it’s nice to pick up a carton at the market when the mood strikes. Paper ice cream cartons can be composted.
  3. Pizza Box: You might be in the habit of recycling your pizza box, but did you know it actually belongs in the compost? When cardboard gets stained with food, especially greasy pizza, it is hard to recycle and belongs in the compost.
  4. Dust Bunnies: Floor sweepings and even the contents of your vacuum bag belong in the compost.
  5. Pet Fur: If you have a pet, be sure to put their fur trimmings in the compost. I’ve also heard that sawdust and droppings from hamster, rabbit and guinea pig cages can go into the compost. Unfortunately, cat and dog feces are not compostable.
  6. Take Out Containers: When you dine out, ideally you’ll remember to bring your own reusable containers for any leftovers. But sometimes, you’re not prepared. Never fear, paper take out containers can be composted.
  7. Paper Towels: There are reusable alternatives to paper towels. But, if you still have a stockpile that you need to use up, you can compost them when you’re done. I often see people put used paper towels in recycling. Paper towels are not recyclable, but they are compostable.
  8. Toilet Paper: Same goes for TP. Very compostable.
  9. Hair/Nail Clippings: Most things I was throwing away in my bathroom could be composted. This seems like a no brainer, but hair and nail clipping are organic materials, therefore, they are compostable.
  10. Cotton Balls/Q-Tips: There are reusable alternatives to cotton balls, such as cotton facial rounds. But while you’re using up your supply, be sure to throw them in the compost when you’re done. Same goes with qtips with a paper or wood stem. Do not compost qtips with a plastic stem.

Composting programs can vary city to city, so I recommend checking out your municipal waste program when in doubt. For example, I found that our city does not accept plant-based "compostable" plastic cups, silverware or bio bags, even though they are accepted by many other local composting programs.

What other household items were you surprised to discover are compostable? 

February 19, 2018 by Lily Cameron

Comments

Linz.gordon@gmail.com

Linz.gordon@gmail.com said:

Wax paper is compostable, for example the wax paper that butter sticks are wrapped in.

Jess

Jess said:

I’d be careful composting dryer lint – if your clothes are artificial fibres (e.g. polyester) then you’d just be adding tiny fragments of plastic to your compost – not ideal!!

azmrl

azmrl said:

tampons are compostable. just make sure that they are the all cotton kind. as is anything all cotton: jeans, tshirts, business shirts, sheets, towels. or wool: sweaters, socks. or silk: scarves, shirts. clothing dye isn’t ideal, but you won’t likely contribute enough to your pile to kill the system.

Sarah VerPloeg

Sarah VerPloeg said:

HI! I live in a small condo and want to start composting; I find myself throwing away a lot of produce trimmings/skins, fresh cut flowers, and other compostable materials you’ve mentioned above. I was wondering if you could explain what your composting system is at home? I’ve seen a lot of the small composting bins you can use in your kitchen, however, I expect to fill one of those up pretty quickly. I’m assuming you have a larger compost bin in your backyard that actually executes the long term process of composting, and if so, what kind would you recommend? I’m looking for one that could hold a lot of compostable materials but that is also not too big for my small patio.

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Comments

Linz.gordon@gmail.com

Linz.gordon@gmail.com said:

Wax paper is compostable, for example the wax paper that butter sticks are wrapped in.

Jess

Jess said:

I’d be careful composting dryer lint – if your clothes are artificial fibres (e.g. polyester) then you’d just be adding tiny fragments of plastic to your compost – not ideal!!

azmrl

azmrl said:

tampons are compostable. just make sure that they are the all cotton kind. as is anything all cotton: jeans, tshirts, business shirts, sheets, towels. or wool: sweaters, socks. or silk: scarves, shirts. clothing dye isn’t ideal, but you won’t likely contribute enough to your pile to kill the system.

Sarah VerPloeg

Sarah VerPloeg said:

HI! I live in a small condo and want to start composting; I find myself throwing away a lot of produce trimmings/skins, fresh cut flowers, and other compostable materials you’ve mentioned above. I was wondering if you could explain what your composting system is at home? I’ve seen a lot of the small composting bins you can use in your kitchen, however, I expect to fill one of those up pretty quickly. I’m assuming you have a larger compost bin in your backyard that actually executes the long term process of composting, and if so, what kind would you recommend? I’m looking for one that could hold a lot of compostable materials but that is also not too big for my small patio.

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