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

From the Office

  1. Bills and other documents you’ve shredded
  2. Envelopes (minus the plastic window)
  3. Pencil shavings
  4. Sticky notes
  5. Business cards (as long as they’re not glossy)
  6. Receipts

Around the House

  1. Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister
  2. Newspapers (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)
  3. Subscription cards from magazines
  4. Leaves trimmed from houseplants
  5. Dead houseplants and their soil
  6. Flowers from floral arrangements
  7. Natural potpourri
  8. Used matches
  9. Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit

Party and Holiday Supplies

  1. Wrapping paper rolls
  2. Paper table cloths
  3. Crepe paper streamers
  4. Latex balloons
  5. Raffia
  6. Excelsior
  7. Jack o’ Lanterns
  8. Those hay bales you used as part of your outdoor fall decor
  9. Natural holiday wreaths
  10. Your Christmas tree. Chop it up with some pruners first (or use a wood chipper, if you have one…)
  11. Evergreen garlands


  1. Fur from the dog or cat brush
  2. Droppings and bedding from your rabbit/gerbil/hamsters, etc.
  3. Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage
  4. Feathers
  5. Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits)
  6. Rawhide dog chews
  7. Fish food
  8. Dry dog or cat food

I know that the longer I’ve had a compost pile, the more likely I’ve been to take a second look at something I was preparing to throw in the trash. “Hmm. Can I compost this?” is a frequent question in my house. And, as you can see, it’s surprising how often you can answer “Yes!”

Compost 101
8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle
25 Wasteful Things You Can Live Without
50 Ways to Never Waste Food Again

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Janelle Kennedy
Janelle Kennedyabout a year ago

Thank you very helpful

Victoria L.
Victoria L.4 years ago

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

Karen M.
Karen M.4 years ago

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!

Karen M.
Karen M.4 years ago

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!

Heather D.
Heather D.4 years ago

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?

Alexander Feldbaum

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

Aneta J.
Aneta J.4 years ago

great idea

Bruce H.
Bruce H.4 years ago

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.

Darla G.
Darla G.4 years ago

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

Martha Nieto
Martha Nieto4 years ago

Great ideas. thanks!