by Shellie Elliott
Composting is a great way to cut down on the waste you create and send to the landfill. It allows you to give a second life to items you would normally throw away. When composting, many people think about the more obvious items, such as food scraps and newspapers that can be composted, but there are a surprising number of items to compost that you may have never considered.
Items You Find While Cleaning
A lot of the waste created from cleaning can be composted rather than thrown in the trash. These are items you come in contact with and throw out often, and this simple change can create a big impact on the amount of trash you are making. Paper towels and napkins that are not used to clean up, or ones you have used to clean with chemicals, can be composted.
Dryer lint created by when you clean and dry clothing or linens made of natural fibers can be included in compost. To avoid creating a fire hazard, you should empty the lint trap in your dryer after every use. The lint created from cotton, wool, silk, and linen items can be saved and added to your compost.
The contents of your vacuum cleaner are largely compostable. When you vacuum, you are sucking up a lot of dust and hair, as well as materials such as grass and leaves that get tracked in your home. All these things can be composted. Make sure that no noncompostable items get mixed in, such as plastic beads and coins, among other items that should not be included in compost.
Plant trimmings from your indoor garden are great to add to your compost pile. Any dead leaves or even wilted flowers from floral arrangements can go right into the compost, too. If by chance you have an indoor plant that does not survive, you can toss the entire thing, soil and all, in the compost.
When cleaning out your fireplaces and fire pits, the wood ashes can be composted. Even ashes from your outdoor grilling can be composted-as long as they are not charcoal ashes.
Pet Items To Compost
Many items left behind or used by household pets can be composted. Pets need a lot of cleaning up after, so it is reassuring to know some of the mess does not have to go to the trash and landfills.
If your pets are messy eaters, like many are, you will be happy to know that dry dog and cat food can be composted. That means all the food your furry friends spill on the floor and refuse to eat if you try to sneak it back in their bowl can be added to the compost.
One of the biggest upkeep jobs with many pets is grooming and managing their shedding. You can take all the fur that you brush off of your cats and dogs and all the fur that collect in every corner of your house and compost it. If you have pet birds, their feathers can also be composted.
Your pets of the vegetarian variety can add their droppings into the compost. Pets such as birds, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and chickens all have compostable droppings.
Most bedding for small pets is even made from compostable cardboard or paper materials. When cleaning pet habitats, you can toss all their mess and soiled bedding out into the compost. The key here is not to include waste from carnivorous pets to avoid harmful bacteria. That means no dog, cat, reptile, or any other meat-eaters’ feces.
Composting Personal Items
Small personal items you probably use every day can be composted. Cotton items, such as cotton balls and cotton swabs, can be composted as long as they are made from 100-percent cotton. With the swabs, it is important to make sure they are the type made with a cardboard post and not a plastic one.
Natural loofahs and sea sponges are items many of us use while bathing that need to be changed out often. When your loofah or sponge comes to the end of its life cycle, you can break it down into smaller pieces and toss it in the compost. Once again, make sure the sponge is composed of all-natural materials before adding it to your compost pile.
You can get even more personal and compost your hair and nail clippings. When you clean out your hairbrush or trim your nails, you can throw those little bits into the compost rather than the trash.
Even more personal than that-you can compost latex condoms. That is right, condoms that are 100% latex are completely compostable. Throw them out just like you do everything else, or you can bury them if you do not want them seen.
How to Compost Fabric
Natural fabrics can be composted. This means items made out of cotton, wool, linen, and silk can find new life when used in composting. Take your worn-out fabric items, such as clothing, sheets, and towels, and cut them down into smaller pieces before composting them.
These can be bulky items, and cutting them down makes it so that these textiles do not take up as much space in your compost heap. Make sure the fabric items you are composting are 100 percent made of natural fibers. Synthetic fibers will not break down in your compost.
Composting Liquor, Beer, and Wine
Even unconsumed alcoholic beverages that would otherwise go to waste can be added to your compost. Beer, wine, and liquor will all break down in the compost pile. So after your next party, round up all the half-drunk bottles and glasses that you would normally dump down the sink, and pour them in the compost instead. Had a bottle of wine go bad? Send it to the compost. Even natural wine corks can be added to the pile.
Composting Party and Holiday Items
Many paper products that are often chucked in the trash after a party can go straight to the compost instead. Paper decorations, such as crepe paper and paper tablecloths, are compostable. Paper plates and cups that do not have a waxy or glossy coating can be composted. There are even compostable types of disposable cutlery available instead of plastic. Tissue paper from gifts can be composted as well if it is not glossy and does not contain other items, such as glitter.
Latex balloons are 100 completely compostable as long as they are made with 100-percent latex. Once you let the air out of leftover latex balloons, just toss them in the compost bin. Make sure there are not any noncompostable ribbons still attached to the balloons before using them.
Any natural party or holiday decorations are great additions to your compost. The shells from your Easter eggs in the spring can be composted. Hay bales from fall hayrides or outdoor decorating as well as jack-o’-lanterns from Halloween can be added to the heap as well.
Natural Christmas holiday wreaths, garlands, and your living Christmas tree-that’s right, the whole tree-can be composted. The key is to make sure all larger items get broken down. Deconstruct large items so they can break down as quickly as possible and not take up valuable space in your composting area.
This list includes a lot of items that people may not associate with composting, and you can add these items to your list of things to include in compost rather than throw in the trash. With this many items to compost on top of the typical items already on your mind, you will be able to create a spectacular composting pile to help you lessen your waste and grow your garden.