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Is it Compostable? A Reference List of Compostable Items Often Asked About


What items can I safely put in my compost bin?


This is a list of items that the average backyard composter can feel comfortable adding to their compost bin. We will address materials for the adventurous or more experienced composter in a future blog post.


  • Raw vegetable and fruit waste*
  • Cooked foods, ex) plate scrapings*
  • Moldy foods from the back of the fridge*
  • Wine, beer, and liquor*
  • Liquid from canned fruits and vegetables*
  • Old herbs and spices
  • Coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, tea leaves, and paper teabags (some are made from plastic mesh; if you can rip it open easily, it’s made from paper)
  • Hair and nail clippings
  • Feathers and fur from pets
  • Old ropes and cloth made of natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and hemp
  • Cotton balls and swabs made from 100 percent cotton and paper (for swab sticks)
  • Natural corks from wine bottles (many are made from plastic, so check carefully)
  • Unwanted potting soil
  • Leaves, trigs, and plant cuttings
  • Straw (animal bedding)
  • Wood matches, toothpicks, and bamboo skewers
  • Shredded plain paper (think: bills and credit card statements; it’s okay if it’s written or printed on since pencil leads and pen/printer inks are biodegradeable)
  • Cardboard and newspaper
  • Used paper towels, napkins, and tissues, not used to clean up toxic chemicals
  • Dry pet food
  • Nuts and their shells (excluding black walnut)
  • Algae, seaweed, and kelp
  • White glue (such as Elmer’s), papier-mâché and masking tape
  • Plant-based cellophane (not plastic wrap)
  • Natural loofahs and sea sponges
  • Silk-based dental floss
  • Dryer lint

*Materials with an asterisk may attract pests. You can deter pests by covering these materials with a thick layer of browns or burying at the center of your pile.