What Can I Compost?
There is a lot of information out there, and of course, a lot of confusion when it comes to composting. When I bring up composting, I find most people say something like “yeah, manure sure is good stuff! Too bad I don’t have any horses/cows” or “I tried to build a compost pile once but it didn’t really do anything” or “I heard you can only compost vegetables, but I don’t eat a lot of salads so I don’t compost”
Okay...so in this blog post we are just going to go into WHAT you can and cannot compost. In later blog posts, we will go into how to properly compost from a more scientific angle if you chose to do so at your home.
Composting is the managed decomposition of organic matter into a plant fertilizer.
Key word is managed (obviously, I italicized it..). The take home message here is that, organic matter is going to decompose regardless! That is how nature does it. Things die, fall to the ground, and with rain, sun, bugs, etc, they decompose back into organic matter which feeds the soil (i.e. the microorganisms that live in the soil and make soil a living organism…but more on that in another blog). This is true for any living (or previously living) thing.
Rapid fire: Is it compostable?
Vegetables -- yes, plants you eat are/were living things
Fruit -- yes, plants you eat are/were living things
Nuts -- yes, same
Grains -- yes, same
Dairy -- yes, from animal
Animals -- yes
Bones -- yes, large bones will take longer but that’s okay
Cardboard -- yes, it was a tree once, and I don’t know the science behind this (please comment if you do), but the fungi in your compost LOVE the glue in the cardboard. Who knew! :)
Other paper products -- yes, from trees. If its glossy/waxy/wildly non-natural, that’s going to have chemicals in there that could hurt the microorganisms in your compost, and will likely not even decompose. So not of that stuff.
Here is the caveat, and why there is a mixed understanding of what you can compost out there:
For example, if you have a pile outside in your backyard, you should not put any animal products in it solely because it will attract rodents and other pests to eat the remains before it decomposes. If you have a bin that has worms in it, you should not put any onions or citrus in the bin because worms will avoid eating those items. Additionally, adding too much of an acidic item may throw off the whole bin’s pH and may actually harm your worms.
What you can put into The Compost Group bins:
At TCG, we are working to divert the highest percentage of organic materials from the landfill and create a healthy living soil product from it. To do this, we utilize in-vessel composting technology that ensures our inputs are well-mixed and can reach pathogen-eliminating temperatures uniformly and quickly without expelling odors to surrounding neighbors or attract rodents or other pests into the vessel.
We CANNOT accept plastic, metal, rubber, stone, wax paper, generally things that were not living organisms (and going through intense Earth processes like millions of years for dinosaurs to be dug up and made into plastics does not count).
The crew at The Compost Group does not care exactly HOW you compost, just that you try it out in some way. Because once you do, you start to see how cyclical, regenerative, and beautiful living with nature, even in a small way, can be -- and what a waste it is to throw those gorgeous nutrients into the landfill!! :)