50 Items You Can Use for Creating Safe Compost

Compost is very important when it comes to improving the texture and quality of soil. The nutrients and minerals in compost often result in much better grass and plant growth in the soil. However, buying big bags full of compost from the local hardware or home improvement store may do more damage to your soil, environment and the water supply. That is why so many people choose to go with creating safe compost themselves.

Even if you are living in the suburbs, it is possible to create safe and healthy compost for the soil that goes in your back and front yard. There are so many urban environmentalists who do not let the fact that they live in a crowded city stop them from creating compost for mini sustainable city farms.

Not only is home composting a very safe way to help your soil be more nutritious for plants, but it also ensures that the waste you use in the compost does not end up in a landfill. While we all know that scraps from the kitchen work as compost material, there are so many other options out there.


RecyleWorks defines composting as,

Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses. By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue.

I started composting in 1970 by taking my food scraps out behind where I lived and burying them in a hole next to the railroad tracks – and green things started to grow there!”
~ Ed Begley Jr.

Here is a look at 50 items you can use for creating safe compost:

1. Pumpkin or Sesame Seeds – You can toss these right into the compost pile.

2. Avocado Pits – Instead of throwing these giant items into the trash can, cut them up as much as possible and toss them into the pile.

Studies show that an average American household dumps around 400 pounds of food every year. That is perfectly good, organic food that is going to waste. While we cannot always eat all the food in our fridge, because it has gone bad, we can put it to good use through other means.

Any type of food item goes great into a compost pile, because the natural organisms in the food help transform the other items into the type of goodness you need for your soil. Keep in mind, the idea of a home compost is to use items you were planning to throw away. Only dump food into the compost pile if no one can eat it, or if it has gone bad.

Examples of food items are:

3. Stale Crackers

4. Chips

5. Breadcrumbs

6. Bran

7. Cereal or Oatmeal

8. Frozen vegetables

9. Frozen fruits

10. Jam or Jelly that has gone bad

11. Shells from eggs

12. Dairy or dairy substitutes that have gone bad

13. Stale candy or protein bars

14. Popcorn kernels

15. Herbs and spices

16. Pasta

17. Rice

18. Beer

19. Wine

20. Shells of Peanuts

21. Fish Food

Paper products that are derived from wood, along with other wooden materials, are a great addition to compost piles. While organic material is crucial to a compost pile’s success, it also needs “brown” material in order to maintain a good balance. Most home composters recommend that you get a balance of 50-50 when it comes to “green” and “brown” compost items.

Paper is helpful at dealing with compost piles that are a little too moist. If you feel your compost pile is too wet, add more paper materials. Crumpled paper even helps in circulation throughout the pile. Avoid using really old newspapers though, because some of those may have used ink that is potentially harmful when it gets into the soil.

22. Paper Towels

23. Paper Napkins

24. Paper Plates

25. Paper Streamers

26. Toilet Paper

27. Shredded Paper

28. Toothpicks

29. Matches

30. Pencil Shavings

31. Sawdust

32. Newspapers

33. Old Mail – If you are throwing old mail or newspapers into the compost pile, make an effort to crumple up or tear the paper as much as possible. This will make it easier for the paper material to aid your compost pile’s progress.

34. Masking Tape

35. Business Cards

36. Wine Corks

37. Tissue Paper


Other items that you may not think can go in a compost pile, but are actually very helpful:

38. Seaweed and Kelp – This only makes sense for people who live near water, but seaweed and kept are a great way to add nutrients to your compost and eventually to the soil. They help a great deal with compost, which is why all home compost enthusiasts will try to get their hands on seaweed and kelp.

39. Halloween Pumpkins – While we all enjoy decorating our Halloween pumpkins and putting them outside our homes and doors, most of these pumpkins are thrown away within a few weeks. Instead of letting them go to waste, you can add them to pile because they decompose very easily.

40. Dirt from Vacuum Cleaners – When you look into your vacuum cleaner, the dirt you see is probably food crumbs, dust, human or pet hair and other debris. All of this can go into a compost pile instead of being dumped into the trash can.

41. Cotton Balls – If you want to dispose of cotton balls in the compost bin, make sure that the product you bought does not use any synthetic fibers to create their cotton balls. As long as they are 100 percent cotton, you are good to go.

42. Pet Food – If you get a batch of pet food that your dog or cat refuses to eat, it can go in the compost bin. The same is true for expired pet food. In most cases, it is already processed into small pieces, which are perfect for a compost pile or bin.

43. Old Flowers – Even though these flowers have lost their smell and most of their color, they still have important chemicals that can help the compost process. Think of it as the circle of life – a dying plant helps the soil used to grow new plants!

44. Roadkill – It is always sad to see a dead squirrel or rat on the side of the road. However, you can put the dead animal to good use by adding them to larger compost piles. Do not add a dead animal to the compost if you are using a small bin indoors!

45. Bamboo and Leaves – Just like any other dead leaves or plant material, bamboo goes great in a compost pile. These materials help the compost because they add necessary elements to your soil. Adding bamboo and leaves will help the soil keep moisture, limit weed growth, lower temperatures in the soil and improve the soil’s structure.

46. Human Hair – Our hair has a lot of nitrogen, which helps the compost pile. Even nail clippings are fine, as long as there is no nail polish on them.

47. Razor Trimmings – The same concept applies to razor trimmings, because it is just really tiny human hair. Throw them in the pile too.

48. Bird Droppings – These are safe to use, along with any herbivorous animal droppings. Using the waste of your dogs or cats is not permitted, though, because these animals are carnivores. Human waste is not permitted either.

49. Feathers – These go fine in most larger compost piles, because they tend to be outdoors and can get a lot hotter. However, you do not need to add feathers if you already have plenty of inorganic matter in your compost pile.

50. Ash – This goes great in compost piles, because it still contains some of the natural elements of the burned wood that can help your soil. But avoid charcoal grill ashes, because those contain chemicals and additives that are potentially harmful.

It is easy to get scared of home composting, especially when you are adding so many rotting or old items into one giant pile. However, this process is completely safe. If you are a patient person, you can add all your items into the compost pile, keep it in a safe location that is getting a decent amount of sun, and wait some months before the pile turns into the type of earthy, brown mixture that will really help your soil and plants.

Image credit: Jonathan , Joi


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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