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Discarded Items which are Compostable

written by: Jayant R Row•edited by: BStone•updated: 8/7/2010

Most materials of organic origin can be used as material for the compost heap. Garden scrap, grass cuttings, kitchen waste and even cooked food can form a good basis for a compost pile. But there are a lot of everyday compostable items thrown in trash that are actually just as usable.

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    Composting Facts

    Compost Heap Compost needs a combination of green items like yard clippings and kitchen waste. It is benefits from brown items that are normally paper based, and a sufficient amount of water. It is also better served if the compost heap has some beneficial organisms from another compost heap or a store bought compost activator. People are quite used to adding vegetable and fruit peels from the kitchen, grass clippings and fallen leaves from the garden to the compost heap. There are however a lot of items that touch our daily lives and which we just dump in the garbage, but can actually make good additions to your compost heap.

    Compost takes between three and six months to decompose and if you are continually adding items the composting will never be finished. So it is best to have a number of piles going on at the same time and allowing the earlier ones time to decompose. Decomposition is helped if the added material is properly shredded or crushed.

    Image Source: Wikipedia: Compost Heap

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    List of Under-Rated Compostable Items from the Kitchen

    What are the compostable items usually thrown in the trash? If we start with the kitchen you will find you create a lot of garbage which you may just dump in the trash bin instead of the compost heap. While most cooked food is not recommended for compost, things like plain cooked rice or pasta can be composted. Then also add to the list coffee grounds and the filters, tea bags, stale bread, old herbs and spices, uneaten pizza crusts, stale pretzels, cereals or crackers, moldy cheese, old preserves, crumbs off the table and nut shells from among those items that are normally part of the items you consume. Other items that can be part of kitchen garbage and can be actually composted are used paper napkins, pizza boxes, paper bags, wine corks, cereal boxes, egg cartons, tooth picks, bamboo skewers and muffin cups. These items should all be shredded to help the decomposition process.

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    Other Items for the Compost Pile

    From the bathroom, used facial tissues, hair from the hairbrush, toilet paper rolls, nail clippings, old loofahs, cotton swabs and balls without the plastic sticks can all be added. You can add any urine from a chamber pot, carbon tampon applicators and even condoms made of latex.

    The laundry can contribute lint from the dryer, old clothing made of cloth or wool which of course needs to be cut into strips. Other items from around the house can be the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag, shredded newspaper, flower arrangements, used matches and even ashes from the fireplace or barbecue.

    If you have a home office use all the pencil shavings and rip all the old envelopes and other documents that you are planning to throw away. And if you have just had a birthday party for the kids, all the wrapping paper, paper table cloths, paper streamers, balloons and lanterns can contribute their might. If you have put up holiday wreaths or a Christmas tree, chop it up and add to the compost.

    Wait, there are more compostable items that don't have to be thrown in the trash. Pets can contribute to the compost with their fur, hair or feathers. Droppings from rabbit or hamsters can be used as well as stale fish food, or dry dog and cat food.

    So, if you do have a compost pile going at the bottom of your garden, bung in all these materials and reduce the trash that the garbage collector has to take out.