Can You Compost Pencil Shavings?

A little kid in the home can be exciting, but you’d inevitably burn through your share of pencils. They also need to be sharpened most of the time, leaving you with significant wood waste.

People commonly ask if we can compost pencil shavings; after all, it’s made of wood. However, every green thumb or environmentally conscious person knows there are rules to composting. You must be cautious about what goes into your compost pile because it can potentially damage the soil or plants to which you apply the decayed materials.

Composting pencil shavings is possible, but we’re certain you don’t want the short answer alone. So, keep reading to discover what composting pencil shavings entail and the biodegradability status of pencils. You’ll also explore methods of recycling erasers. Look down below!

Are Pencil Shavings Compostable?

When building a sustainable household, it’s vital to consider how you can reduce the strain of your daily life on the planet. That could be through your water conservation techniques, relying on sustainable materials, confining organic products, or composting your waste.

Essentially, you only need to minimize your waste, reduce your share of your consumption of the earth’s resources, and make better environmentally informed decisions.

There’s scarcely a green thumb that would let any compostable material go to waste in the same vein. So, naturally, you’d ask if pencil shavings can go in the compost pile.

Now, the general rule is that all organic matter is compostable. It requires oxygen, good moisture content, heat, and microbes. A biodegradable material will break down within the shortest period, making composting a suitable option for green thumbs.

Some materials break down faster, making them better suited for a compost pile. So, let’s break down what pencils are made of.

The conventional pencil is wood, graphite, metal, and an eraser. You were probably shocked when there was no mention of lead. Well, that’s because it’s a misconception that lead is what gives pencils their dark shade.

However, it’s a combination of more natural materials like graphite and clay. Since it’s all-natural, you don’t need to worry about adverse effects if they’re present in your compost.

Again, are pencil shavings compostable? Indeed, but the process is considerably slower because they’re made from cedarwood. They’ll eventually break down, which is a better option for the environment.

You can soak the shavings in some hot water for a few days to accelerate the decomposition process. It softens the shavings and provides ample moisture for microbes to break it down fast.

Cedarwood isn’t treated with chemicals, making your pencil an environmentally friendly option.

So, what happens to the other parts of the pencil? Particularly the graphite component that makes the impressions on paper? Well, although it’s a natural material that won’t harm the environment, it’s non-biodegradable.

As such, if it finds its way into your compost pile, it won’t do any damage to the other materials or the environment. If anything, it serves as a reliable source of iron.

Are Pencil Erasers Recyclable?

Erasers are there to take our scribbled mistakes away. Children are more active users of this stationery because they’re in their learning stages, so don’t be surprised if they burn through significantly.

Being the environmentally conscious parent you are, you’d naturally wonder if you can recycle erasers. Because let’s admit it, there’ll always be a discarded eraser or two lying around.

Many products ensure our comfort these days, and it’s becoming increasingly challenging to determine what’s recyclable and what isn’t.

Sadly, we cannot recycle erasers because they’re just too small. Aside from the size being a challenge, there’s also minimal profit in recycling erasers. This is because there’s no demand for it, hence no motivation.

Since each household with kids will inevitably be burning through its significant share of used erasers, it’s necessary to consider other environmentally responsible ways to dispose of it.

In special cases, the proper disposal method is to reuse and reduce. We’d include recycling, but the three “R’s” cannot be complete because recycling erasers is impossible. So, you must reduce and reuse, reducing the strain our existence puts on the environment.

Now, this means it’s best to raise our children to be conservative in their use of erasers. They can manage their resources, starting with erasers and even pencils.

Once you understand the unhealthy strain our production processes have on the environment, you’ll become more conscious about purchases. We expend a significant portion of chemical waste into the atmosphere from manufacturing to packaging.

While we cannot recycle erasers, we certainly can employ the first two R’s” of sustainable waste disposal – reuse and reduce.

Alternatively, you can purchase those made of natural rubber. They’re biodegradable, although it takes a considerable period for complete decomposition.

Are Colored Pencil Shavings Compostable?

Colored pencils are entertaining when children need a break. Now that they’re done with their homework, they can scribble and color in their leisure books.

However, this would inevitably result in the production of a considerable amount of colored shavings. And there seems to be an unspoken rule about keeping them out of the compost pile. But again, what differentiates a colored pencil from the conventional one?

Well, the rule about composting colored shavings is not entirely unfounded because the type of pigmentation used can affect the materials in the bin. It’s believed that they contain some chemicals that aren’t nature-friendly – they pollute the atmosphere with chemicals during and after their decomposition process.

Composting colored pencils shavings is typically a personal choice – there’s no right or wrong. It hasn’t been proven that they contain toxic pigments because there are also more environmentally options.

You cannot compost colored pencils whole, but if your household burns through a significant number, you’ll have plenty of shavings to deal with. Taking the easy way out would be including them in your compost materials. After all, they’re organic but will decompose slower.

Are Pencils Biodegradable?

The sturdiness of a pencil is undeniably impressive, and so is the structure. It’s a wooden casing with graphite and clay at its center, natural materials that we use to make impressions on paper.

Once again, we must delve into environmental consciousness. Even though tablets and personal computers seem to be replacing the writing scene, little children still rely on pencils in school. Inevitably, we’ll burn through many pieces during an academic year.

So, what effect does its decomposition process have on the environment? First, it’s made of wood, making it biodegradable. But again, some products require treatment, making them dangerous to expose to the environment.

For instance, to prolong their lifespan, wooden fences must be treated with insecticide. Other substances like paint and finishing may also be on it, making this item an environmentally dangerous compost choice.

Now, pencils don’t contain any of these substances. They’re made from sturdy wood that requires no treatment against bugs. As such, no chemical prevents their breakdown process, prolongs it, or makes it harmful to the environment.

However, graphite doesn’t biodegrade. But don’t worry, it doesn’t harm the environment.

Composting the pencil whole will prolong the decomposition process. So, when you break it down and put it in the compost pile, the graphite present will provide iron, making it a beneficial addition.

There are also other biodegradable pencils; these break down much faster because of the materials they’re made from. Some of your options will surprise you – there are pencils made from seeds, flowers, and coffee.

It’s about protecting the environment, so if composting many pencils will be strenuous, we recommend purchasing readily biodegradable options.

On the other hand, some manufacturers attach erasers to their pencils. Now, will this part biodegrade? It’s made of sulfur, rubber, vegetable oil, and other ingredients like pumice, iron oxide, among others.

These materials are mostly biodegradable, even though they may take longer years to break down. So, erasers will break down without harming the environment. However, we urge you to consider other waste disposal methods for this vital item.

What Can You Do With Pencil Shavings?

Accumulating pencil shavings is no fun, especially when it’s time for disposal. You wonder what the best option is, especially if you’re environmentally conscious. We can’t leave them to landfills, so here are some safe methods:

1. Composting

This is the common way of disposing of pencil shavings. It’s surprisingly easy, too, although this type of wood takes a long time to biodegrade.

However, you can reduce the decomposition period by soaking it in some water before extracting it and adding it to your compost pile. Because of the nature of this material, ensure you reserve a space for pencil shavings at a significant depth in the pile.

If you don’t want to try your hands at composting, there are other environmentally safe methods of disposing of your pencil shavings.

2. Padding for gifts

Colored pencil shavings will provide nice padding for fragile gift items. You only need to buy a box for packaging, add enough shavings, and place the gift inside.

The bright color on the pencil shavings will also play an aesthetic role.

3. Bedding for small pets

It’s not uncommon for younger children to own smaller pets – hamsters, pet rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, you name it. They also need a comfortable place to stay, which you can build yourself.

Either way, they need paddings for their homes. Using your pencil shavings is a wonderful idea that saves you money and correctly disposes of your wood waste.

4. Mulch

Evaporation and wind are some of the threats to outdoor plants. Aside from protecting your crops from these elements, pencil shavings can also protect the top layer of the soil.

Mulch is another good area for pencil shavings. It’s an excellent choice for gardeners – protecting your plants and soil is your responsibility, and these wooden bits help you fulfill it. It stays atop the soil, serves as superb aesthetics, assists in retaining moisture, and blocks weed growth.

If the pencil shavings are made from cedarwood, their presence on the topmost layer of the soil will repel bugs like ants and spiders.

5. Can be Art

Do you consider yourself a bit artsy? One of the many projects you can try your hands on is mosaic art. Pencil shavings are also excellent for creating silhouettes and beautifying tree barks.

Essentially, you can dabble around with colored pencil shavings. There’s an abundance of projects it’ll give life to.

These are lovely pieces you can create and hang in your home or office or gift out.

6. Firestarters

Pencil shavings, colored or otherwise, are great for starting fires. They’re made of dry, light wood, so take a bagful when you go camping.


Pencil shavings are also great at keeping bugs and pests away; you can shred and spread them around your plants.

Alternatively, you can compost them. Although pencil shavings decompose slowly, they’ll eventually break down and supply the nutrients your plants need.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.