20 weird things you never knew you could compost

Filed in Blog by on March 3, 2014 12 Comments
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what to compostSetting up a compost heap is a great way to reduce household waste and close the loop at home.

Instead of throwing away fruit and vegetable peelings, you can put them to good use.

Come next spring time, you won’t be driving to the garden centre to buy bags of compost wrapped in plastic bags (which you then need to dispose of), you’ll be digging your own!

Once you’ve set up your space you’re probably wondering what to compost.

You know all about the grass clippings and vegetable peelings already, but here are 20 weird things that might surprise you!

  1. Crumbs swept off your floor and kitchen work surfaces
  2. Used tissues – get over the ick factor; they’re ok!
  3. Real wine corks (you’ll need to cut them up as they take years to break down)
  4. Loofahs
  5. Dryer lint
  6. Used paper napkins and kitchen roll
  7. Pencil shavings
  8. Real cellophane (not its plastic cousin)
  9. Contents of your vacuum cleaner (providing you have natural flooring)
  10. Fish tank weed and algae
  11. Dead houseplants
  12. Nut shells (can take years to break down but they will eventually)
  13. Human hair and nails
  14. Spent matches
  15. Coffee grounds complete with paper filters
  16. Crushed eggshells
  17. Pet fur
  18. Latex condoms – now the used tissues aren’t looking so bad, huhn?
  19. Used bedding from vegetarian pets such as hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs
  20. Shredded paper – a great way to avoid identity theft!

Now I want to hear your additions; what would you put on the list?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Hazel says:

    You can also compost any clothing or fabric that is 100% cotton, wool or linen. I’ve composted jeans (the pockets won’t break down, so you’ll have to fish them out), motheaten sweaters, t-shirts not suitable for donating and underwear. I now cut the elastic off of the knicker legs as otherwise you’ll be fishing polycotton thread and elastic out of the compost for ever…
    I also composted an ‘Ali Baba’ type straw linen basket once- it rotted quite quickly.

    And finally- urine! Pee on your compost heap (or in a bucket and pour it on if it’s in your front garden or something!) It’s an excellent activator, free, full of nitrogen and you’re not using clean water to get rid of it.

  2. Nicki says:

    Fluff fom the tumble dryer.

  3. Interesting list – I was just wondering today if I could compost the contents of my vacuum cleaner!

  4. Philippa says:

    M-m-m-missus You’ll have the Recycling Officers sh-sh-shaking in their shoes with this! They’re already afraid to leave the office to notice who needs help, encouragement and information on how to put their plate scrapings into the food waste bin because what you don’t eat is not nice! LOL

  5. FYI, a few relevant facts: compost is a stagnant process on hold till weather recedes back up north of Canada.
    with the last wave of snow and sleet upon us in the US. Midwest, i can tell you that it takes a healthy sense of humor to enjoy temperatures in the minus side of zero..however as in all polar vortex dips into our central plains and even south to the subtropical regions…there is a bright side..we won’t be able to complain about bugs so much if summer ever decides to grace us..

    lots of floods predicted here as well when all that white stuff melts..keep your green boots on. but the 2.1 million dollars we spend on recuperating losses due to invasive insect damage– will ease considerably. the aldegid, the gypsy moth, the green borer and pine borer we have inherited through our lax practice of importing so much which we could grow and manufacture locally..

    oh well keep composting the dead bugs, or serve as a treat to birds, frozen delicacies at noon!

    • k (@kawmstar) says:

      Folks in Alaska compost in the winter, so don’t let that vortex stop you from composting. 🙂

  6. excuse me, one more thing..please be aware that worms and certain beneficial bacteria do NOT like any allium or citrus family material.
    do try to separate orange, lemon peels or onion and garlic skins..stick those under a bush to keep pests and moths away. adios for today..ns

    • Ah, so that’s why these are not recommended in the compost heap! Wondered why my bin wasn’t full of critters. Still, with constant turning I have managed 100 l. of my own compost (that’s two whole garden centre bags) – from a very small household 🙂

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Really enjoying your blog! I would be careful about composting dryer lint, unless the clothes you are drying are made from 100% natural fibers (cotton, linen, hemp, etc.), then you are putting plastic in your compost!

    Thanks for the tips, though, a lot of these are great to keep in mind!

  8. Karen Hughes says:

    I bypass the compost heap. Every couple of days I make a garden soup and pour it straight on the garden. I whizz up emptied tea bags, coffee grounds,egg shells and chopped bananas. Add any left over tea from the pot and a bit of water. Leave out the hard ends of the bananas as the hand blender can’t cope. I usually have a litre or more of the mixture. I eventually disappears into the soil.
    I also keep a couple of carrier bags in my handbag so my local coffee shop can give me their used coffee grounds for my flower bed every time I go in.

  9. Hair is a good ingredient for the compost bin but remember heavier hair has been dyed those chemicals will go into soil but if it’s safe on your head it shouldn’t be too bad in the soil I think.

  10. I don’t put the contents of my hoover in the compost as with a small child there is always some non-compostable material mixed in. On the other hand, the compost heap is a great place for old underwear. Just wish more bras were made of cotton!

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