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7 Surprising Things You Should Be Composting

By Edited Jul 4, 2015 1 4

Compost Bin Decomposition Composition.

I cannot be the only one who will continually shove the garbage down despite it's overflowing status in a  effort to prolong my trip out to the garbage bin. Yes, I like a clean house and yes, that means that a lot of garbage makes its way into the can, but hauling that over-stuffed bag outside seems like such a a daunting task, and so I continue to shove it down in an attempt to create more space.  

But there is another way to create more space in the trash can -- and avoid sending too much to the landfill -- just by adding an extra receptacle: a compost bin.  

Composting is an easy way to reduce your garbage production while improving the condition of your garden's soil, and it's easier than you might think. Just toss kitchen scraps into a bin or compost heap, add the right amount of moisture then stir occasionally. Within a few weeks, you will have a nutrient-rich soil supplement that your garden will love.  

Of course, it's important to have the right kind of scraps to add to your compost pile, including equal parts of brown (carbon)  -- which will help prevent your compost pile from becoming too stinky -- and green (nitrogen) to help speed up the decaying process.  

Aside from the typical banana peels and coffee grounds, there is an abundance of compostable items in your home that you are probably tossing out, and it's not restricted to food items, either. Here are some other household items that should be making their way to your compost heap, too.

1. Latex

Cabbages and Condoms

 Believe it or not, things made out of latex are perfect for your compost pile. This includes balloons, powder free latex gloves and even condoms[2]. That's because natural latex comes from plants, specifically the milky substance found in many flowering plants such as milkweed. 

2. Hair

April to September

 The next time you clean out your hairbrush, don't toss that precious collection into the trash can. Instead, add it to your compost bin. Not only does it serve as a slow-release fertilizer for your soil, but can be a great way to increase the soil's drainage and improve it's structural integrity[1]. This includes both human and pet hair. 

3. Cleaning Remnants

Lint Art
The contents of your vacuum bag, lint trap and even table crumbs are all compostable so keep them out of your garbage can. The same goes for outdated billing statements, pencil shavings, newspapers and fire place ashes. As long as it hasn't been treated with chemicals, it can go in your garden.

4. Clothing

If your lint can be composted, so can your clothes. Once you finally come to grips with the fact that your favorite tee shirt will never fit again and the holes in your wool socks and sweatshirts will never be mended, bite the bullet and toss them in.  

5. Stale Spirits

Left Over From Last Night
If you find yourself loaded down with half-filled bottles of beer or wine after your next bar-be-que, don't pour them down the drain. As long as there are no mystery floaties like cigarette butts, they can be poured onto your compost. That's because the yeast that is found in these drinks actually helps the break-down process of your compost bin making it ready to use in a fraction of the time. Just be sure not to add too much liquid without adding sufficient dry ingredients or the pile may become slimy and stinky.

Wine corks can be added, as well. 

6. Everything Else


Shan Hand
Okay, not everything, but just about anything you have lying around that has not been treated with chemicals (such as chemically-treated wood or excessively inky paper) can be tossed into the compost heap. This includes toilet paper, cotton balls, toothpicks, stale crackers, old jelly, nail clippings, feathers, pet food…the list goes on. The point is, if it can decompose without filing your compost with toxic chemicals, it should be a part of your compost pile. 


Worm Composting
Though unlikely to be a part of your household, earthworms help the composting process progress much more quickly. This is because worms love to dine on the very items you toss out, and their feces (called castings) makes for incredibly rich compost. When you stumble upon an earthworm, be sure to transplant him into a new home in your compost bin to reap the benefits of your compost all the more quickly (be sure to let a few stay in your garden, though. Their burrows help aerate the soil for healthy root growth).

Composting is one of the best ways you can improve your soil and reduce your carbon footprint --  and you can literally compost just about everything but the kitchen sink. So save yourself a trip to the dumpster and instead head out to the garden to create a balanced meal for your plants. Because if you treat your soil well, it will return the favor by producing healthy, abundant vegetation for the whole family.

I promise.



Jun 5, 2014 4:11am
I am amazed at some of these. I know that hair does not break down, I knew someone at a laboratory and they could not find any chemical that would break hair down. So it would just stay there I suppose. Great ideas and suggestions.
Jun 5, 2014 6:24am
Yeah, I had a hard time believing that one, too, but the research I conducted did point to hair as an excellent fertilizer because of its high nitrogen content.

And it will break down, but it takes a very long time (1-2 years apparently) which is why a lot of sites recommend throwing it directly into the soil rather than a compost tumbler.

Some sites recommend against using it all together, though, because of chemicals that could have been used in treating it (dyes or the excessive use of products, for example).

Here is a link to one such article. I suppose I should add it to my reference page, eh?

Jul 7, 2014 7:36am
I never knew that about latex, and it never occurred to me to add stale beer to the mix. Mind you, certain things don't go into a compost bin, simply because I live in a rural area with lots of rats, so I don't add cooked veg or meat, and this includes stale cat food - that goes into my wormery which I keep beside my composters.

Great tip about the latex.
Nov 11, 2014 5:40am
Good ideas here to reuse items I never thought to put in the compost bin. We live in the country so we try not to put anything in that will attract wildlife, but shredded bills and old clothing is a new one for me. Thanks.
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  1. Beth Beavers "The Long and Short of Human Hair Fertilizer Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/human-hair-fertilizer.aspx#ixzz33lwApMSe." Mother Earth News. 7/May/2010. 1/06/2014 <Web >
  2. "Myths vs. Facts." The Balloon Council. 1/06/2014 <Web >

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