17 Surprising Things You Can Compost

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on May 16, 2014. Enjoy!

Think compost is just for apple cores and vegetable peels? Think again. As more and more people start to compost at home — and more cities provide composting as an option for waste disposal — it’s good to know what you can and can’t throw in the bin. You might actually be surprised to learn what you can compost, and in the process, keep a few items from making their way into the landfill.

If you live in a city that provides composting services, always be sure to check what they accept. You should also avoid composting anything that contains plastic or toxic chemicals.

There’s a lot that can go into a compost bin, but here are 17 items you may not have considered.

1. Sawdust

As long as the sawdust is free from chemicals, dry material is actually good for your compost. Try to keep a 4:1 ratio of brown (dry) to green (food scraps) material.

2. Coffee filters

Coffee filters can be composted, making your morning pour-over a pretty sustainable drink.

3. Egg cartons

Hopefully you’re reusing your egg cartons, but even the most diligent upcycler can get stuck with a few too many — in which case the compost is a good depository.

4. Wine corks

You can compost wine corks that are made from real cork; the synthetic ones won’t do.

5. Kombucha SCOBY

If your kombucha is growing rampant and you don’t have enough friends to pass the overflow to, pop the excess kombucha mother in the compost.

6. Dead flowers

Have a bouquet of flowers that isn’t so fresh anymore? Compost away.

7. Hair

It might sounds gross, but that hair that has collected in your hairbrush can be removed and placed in the compost bin. Or even the hair from your latest haircut.

8. Dryer lint

Since dryer lint consists of tiny fibers from your clothes, these can be composted as dry material; unless your washing is 100 percent polyester, of course.

9. Shredded paper

Looking for a use for all your junk mail? Shred and compost away.

10. Paper napkins

Paper napkins most often make their way into the trash can; put them in the compost instead.

11. Newspaper

That stack that’s been collecting over the last month? It’s destined for the compost bin.

12. Wine

Had a bottle that sat open for too long? If it doesn’t taste good anymore, you don’t have to pour the wine down the sink — you can add it to your compost instead.

13. Toothpicks

While it’s easy to toss toothpicks in the trash can, you don’t have to.

14. Natural sponges

Sponges from the sea are biodegradable, so once the sponge has run its course, make sure to compost it.

15. Cat and dog hair

If you have an animal, chances are you have some fur that has accumulated in corners. Pop it in the compost to get rid of it.

16. Olive pits

Eat the olive, compost the pit.

17. Business cards

As long as they are made of paper, and not the glossy kind, all those business cards that you got at that conference that you won’t ever actually use can go directly into the compost.

Photo Credit: Alan Levine/Flickr


michela c
michela c6 months ago


Amanda Majakoski
Amanda Majakoski7 months ago

If it's organic (as in "made of living things", not just "grown with no pesticides etc."), it can (in theory) go in the compost. Probably not synthetic fibres, and if you have a so-called "quick compost" it's not going to have time to break down things like peach stones, but most things can go in a slower-acting "traditional" compost. If you have halfway-decent recycling facilities, please recycle things like cardboard and paper (which take forever and a month to decompose).

hELEN h7 months ago


Marie W
Marie W8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

DAVID fleming
Past Member about a year ago

Makes good sence

Fiona O
Fiona Oabout a year ago

Great info. I will forward on twitter.

Paulo R
Paulo Reesonabout a year ago


Paulo R
Paulo Reesonabout a year ago


Avalon G
Avalon Gabout a year ago

This is helpful and I didn't know this

adam a
adam aabout a year ago

While all of the things on here will compost that doesn't mean you necessarily should. For example since flowers are generally not assumed to be eaten most flowers have no pesticide residue level limit.