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75 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Compost

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75 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Compost

By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green

The basics of composting are simple. Most people know they can compost fruit and vegetable peels, leaves, and grass clippings. But what about that tea bag you used this morning? Or the fur that collects in the brush when you groom your cat?

The following list is meant to get you thinking about your compost possibilities. Not every item on the list is for everyone, and that’s fine. Imagine how much trash we could prevent from going into the landfills if each of us just decided to compost a few more things. Here are 75 ideas to get you started.

From the Kitchen

  1. Coffee grounds and filters
  2. Tea bags
  3. Used paper napkins
  4. Pizza boxes, ripped into smaller pieces
  5. Paper bags, either ripped or balled up
  6. The crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors
  7. Plain cooked pasta
  8. Plain cooked rice
  9. Stale bread
  10. Paper towel rolls
  11. Stale saltine crackers
  12. Stale cereal
  13. Used paper plates (as long as they don’t have a waxy coating)
  14. Cellophane bags (be sure it’s really Cellophane and not just clear plasticóthere’s a difference.)
  15. Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants)
  16. Old herbs and spices
  17. Stale pretzels
  18. Pizza crusts
  19. Cereal boxes (tear them into smaller pieces first)
  20. Wine corks
  21. Moldy cheese
  22. Melted ice cream
  23. Old jelly, jam, or preserves
  24. Stale beer and wine
  25. Paper egg cartons
  26. Toothpicks
  27. Bamboo skewers
  28. Paper cupcake or muffin cups

From the Bathroom

  1. Used facial tissues
  2. Hair from your hairbrush
  3. Toilet paper rolls
  4. Old loofahs
  5. Nail clippings
  6. Urine
  7. 100% cotton cotton balls
  8. Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard (not plastic) sticks

Personal Items

It might be a good idea to bury these items in your pile. Just sayin’.

  1. Cardboard tampon applicators
  2. Latex condoms

From the Laundry Room

  1. Dryer lint
  2. Old/stained cotton clothingórip or cut it into smaller pieces
  3. Old wool clothingórip or cut it into smaller pieces
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Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
2:40PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Thank you very helpful

12:01AM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

I always wondered if it was okay to compost tea bags...these are great ideas!

6:19PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Shredded paper always goes in the bottom of the cleaned counter top compost jar when it's emptied. It absorbs moisture from the kitchen scraps all day and makes it easy to empty. Wonderful info. Thanks!

6:19PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Shredded paper always goes in the bottom of the cleaned counter top compost jar when it's emptied. It absorbs moisture from the kitchen scraps all day and makes it easy to empty. Wonderful info. Thanks!

5:46AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

I think this is a great idea! Of course if we compost as much as possible, we will reduce the amount of landfill waste. I am curious about something, though: if you include all of these things (or at least things that are not plant material, fruit and veggie peels, etc), can you still use this compost for the veggie garden? I've read that if you plan to add the compost to a veggie garden (or any other plant that will be consumed as food), you should not include things like pet feces. How does this work?

11:01AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Thank You, great information! Is fish parts good in making a compost? Thank You again. Have a nice day.

12:50PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

great idea

10:53AM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

It is the organic stuff that goes into the compost. Shredded or in small pieces is best as the more surface, the quicker it degrades. Watch stuff though like wine corks. I've found some of the new ones are some sort of plastic, but they go in the recycle.

9:24PM PDT on May 23, 2011

interesting... woudl hate to see the look on my sons face if he found condoms in teh composter while taking his turn stirring../

9:00PM PDT on May 23, 2011

Great ideas. thanks!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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