Posted in Gardening
May 11, 2018

What to Compost: 50 Everyday Things to Compost (and 9 NOT to)

Compost is literally the best thing you can plant your vegetables and flowers in.

What is even better is that you can make your own. You only need a compost bin and some of the materials that we will discuss below.

There are tricks to making a healthy compost. Some things break down while others don’t. You also need to know of what you can and cannot compost before you jump onboard.

You’ll be surprised to find that you have many (if not all) of the materials listed below all over the house.


  1. Used coffee grounds and filters: neutral — be sure that they are used as it is less acidic once used. Worms are addicted to coffee too so just throw them right into your compost. If your filters are paper toss them in the compost bin too.
  2. Paper napkins: carbon — these will have to be torn into small pieces or made wet  before mixing into the compost.
  3. Freezer burnt vegetables: nitrogen — these can just be tossed right into your compost.
  4. Freezer burnt fish: nitrogen — you will need to make sure you have more carbon than nitrogen.
  5. Freezer burnt fruit: nitrogen — it is best if fruit is cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Unused or old spices: nitrogen — these can be added as is.
  7. Vegetable scraps: nitrogen — these can be added as they are.
  8. Paper towels: carbon — these should be ripped into smaller pieces to make composting easier and faster.
  9. Used tea bags and grounds: nitrogen — these can be tossed into the compost as is.
  10. Egg shells: neutral — these should be crushed before being added to the compost pile. They break down slower, so it speeds up the composting process if they are crushed.
  11. Fruit rinds and peelings: nitrogen — since these are tougher to break down, it is best if you cut them up into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost pile.
  12. Corn cobs: carbon — these are another tough one to break down. If you are able to cut them up or shred them before mixing them into the compost pile, you will be better off for it.
  13. Jell-o: neutral — when you have leftover Jell-O just pitch it into the compost. It is rather easy to break down.
  14. Cooked rice: nitrogen — rice is already pretty small after cooking so it can be added as is to the compost pile.
  15. Bread crusts or stale bread: carbon — Be sure the bread is stale and broken up though in order to keep pests out of your compost pile.
  16. Tofu: nitrogen — since tofu comes from soybeans it is plant based and easy to break down.
  17. Paper towel rolls: carbon — these should be broken down before added.
  18. Cereal boxes: carbon — ditto for cereal boxes
  19. Stale cereal: carbon — cereal is grain-based and therefore should break down easily.
  20. Stale crackers: carbon — again, grain-based and easy to break down.
  21. Used paper plates: carbon — should be broken into small pieces or made wet before mixing into the compost pile.
  22. Muffin liners: carbon — ditto for muffin liners.
  23. Pasta: carbon — pasta is grain based and should break down easily. Be sure to mix into the compost very well as it will attract pests.
  24. Pizza boxes: carbon — they should be ripped into tiny pieces.
  25. Paper grocery bags: carbon — ditto for grocery bags.
  26. Old milk: neutral — should be added in small amounts.
  27. Melted ice cream: neutral — should be treated like milk.
  28. Old cheese: neutral — ditto for cheese.
  29. Paper egg cartons: carbon — should be ripped up so it can break down easier.
  30. Old preserves: nitrogen — preserves come from plants, so they are easy to break down.
  31. Old snack food that is going to waste: carbon — most of these items will be grain based and easy to break down.
  32. Old canned food that has spoiled: nitrogen — these will be easy to break down as they are plant based.
  33. Old, dried up herbs: nitrogen — these are also plant based and easy to break down.


  1. Toilet paper: carbon — it is recommended to rip up or wet before adding to compost.
  2. Toilet paper rolls: carbon — ditto for the rolls too.
  3. Facial hair trimmings: nitrogen — you can just toss these into the compost.
  4. Fingernails and toenails: nitrogen — ditto for your fingernails and toenails.
  5. Haircut trimmings: nitrogen — just toss them into the compost bin.
  6. Loofa sponges: carbon — they must be all natural and cut up.
  7. Cotton balls and q-tips: carbon — they must be broken down.
  8. Hair from your hairbrush: nitrogen — this doesn’t have to be broken any further.
  9. Biodegradable feminine hygiene products: carbon — these will need to be cut up before being added to the compost pile.
  10. Latex condoms: carbon — these should be handled the same as the feminine hygiene products.

Laundry Room

  1. Dryer lint: carbon — dryer lint adds moisture, so it is great for compost.
  2. Old cotton clothing: carbon — should be ripped into smaller pieces so composting is an easier and faster process.
  3. Old blue jeans: carbon — same goes for denim.
  4. Old wool clothing: carbon — and ditto for wool clothing as well.


  1. Shredded bills: carbon — must shred or make wet before mixing into the compost, so it is easier to break down.
  2. Envelopes: carbon — the same goes for envelopes.
  3. Pencil shavings: carbon — they are already so small that they require no extra attention.

What You Should NEVER Compost

  1. Cat litter: This could contain diseases, so it is never a good option.
  2. Dog droppings: The same goes for their droppings
  3. Meat: This attracts critters.
  4. Fat: This attracts critters and has a way of preserving food rather than breaking it down.
  5. Grease: The same concepts apply to grease.
  6. Oils: And the same goes for oils too.
  7. Bones: And bones belong to the same group.
  8. Ashes from coal or charcoal: The chemicals in these types of ashes are harmful.
  9. Human waste: The issue with diseases is why you shouldn’t compost human waste or urine. Some people do it by using composting toilets, but it still ruled as a safety hazard, don’t use it unless your friends left you on Mars.