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Common Materials Suitable for Home Composting

Composting is a simple process you can use, to reduce the food matter and materials that goes into the trash. Composting is a great way to reuse certain organic materials, because it can be done no matter where you live and can be done on a smaller or larger scale. How much you’re able to compost will depend on many factors, such as family size, the types of foods you usually consume, and how often you eat at home.

In the home, you can begin preparing for a composting project by going through each area and making a list of the materials you have that can be composted.By taking inventory, you will know where to begin with the composting process and what materials you have to add to the compost.


In the kitchen, start by considering what you have in the freezer that is no longer edible. Fish, vegetables, and meats with freezer burn can be suitable for composting. You may even be able to use the dust and lint that accumulates behind the refrigerator. Any outdated bottles of ketchup, mustard, relishes, or dressings can also be good candidates for composting.

In the dining area, consider all the left over food that is disposed of. Much of it can be composted instead. If you use paper napkins they may also go into the composting bin.

Home office or study

any small paper items like sticky notes can be composted. If you sometimes take food into your study space, you may want to use leftovers as well. You may have fewer materials in from this space. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to contribute to the compost heap.

Pet cages and pens

Does animal hair frustrate you? You can use any animal hair you sweep up in composting. If you have wood chips or sawdust type materials for bedding, it can also be composted.

Outdoor gardens

The backyard garden is one of the best places to find composting materials. Items line pine needles, small twigs, fallen leaves, herbs, dried plant matter, and chicken droppings all provide nutrients for a compost pile. When collecting materials from the back yard for a compost bin, you may need to take along a larger container. The list of materials you can compost from the back yard is nearly endless.

What to avoid

While some pet add pet droppings to the compost pile, many people don’t. Birds, dogs, cats, and other animals can carry diseases humans can pick up, especially by handling droppings or by breathing in the airborne spores. Unless you know your pet is completely disease free, this may not be a good source for the compost heap.

Some other materials you will want to avoid include dead, mold ridden, or otherwise diseased plant matter. Molds and other diseases can spread, making it more difficult to generate the kind of good bacteria you want to maintain in composting.

Some food items are not suitable for composting. They include breads, meats or any parts, dairy, grease and cooking fats, and other animal derived products.

You will need to consider how to contain the compost. A bin can be a specially designed, free standing container or a structure built in the back yard that is stationary. Keep in mind the compost area should be large enough to accommodate all the waste materials you want to add to it. It will also need to be turned periodically, if you’re not using a special bin that is easily turned, you will need to turn the pile manually and this can be a labor-intensive process.

Composting equipment

The equipment you use in composting can be extremely helpful or severely limiting. If you’re committed to a composting effort, you will want to become familiar with common tools used in the process. Some tools are important in maintaining healthy, viable compost to be used in the future.

The compost site

The site for composting is most important, especially if you choose a stationary place for the project. it should be free of debris and should be located where it will get plenty of sunlight. you want to make sure the compost heap gets to a certain temperature, to break down all the organic materials into the proper nutrients. The chosen sight should have easy access, for frequent monitoring and occasional turning of the materials.

Using a compost bin

A compost bin should be large enough to handle the materials you plan to put in it, but small enough to handle. It’s usually better to start with smaller, more manageable bins. You can always add a second bin if the first gets full and you’ve mastered the art of composting. The bin will need to be cleaned occasionally, so an easily accessible opening is desirable.


In order to compost effectively, the materials within the heap need to reach a certain temperature. A good thermometer that can reach the inner core of the compost is desirable. Some garden centers and retailers sell thermometers designed specifically for the purpose of composting.

Gardening fork

If your compost pile is not in a bin that can be turned or rotated, you will need to turn and mix the materials periodically. This calls for a sturdy garden fork that you can handle and use to manipulate the contents of the compost heap. The fork will be used often to test the texture and softness of the compost pile. You will also use the fork to turn or mix the compost pile contents infrequently.

Collection containers

If you want to maintain organization in the composting process, you may need to use smaller containers inside the home. They will be used to transport materials from the home to the outdoor compost heap, when they are full. You can also use the containers to separate like materials for composting. This makes it easier to add the right amount of carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients to the compost heap as needed.

Space for expansion

When you become skilled in composting, you may want to consider doing it on a larger scale. You should either have a secondary site for a compost heap or choose an initial site with plenty of room for composting on a larger scale. If outdoor space is limited, you may want to consider purchasing the bins that can be turned and moved. You will want to make sure any compost pit gets plenty of sunlight. You need to keep this in mind when planning the composting project.

A final consideration in locating the composting area is distance from neighbors. Some people will be offended from the smells of compost, that may be carried into their outdoor spaces on occasion. Keeping the compost bin away from property borders and possibly contained by fencing are good ways to manage compost piles and maintain good relations with neighbors. A healthy compost pile should have a slightly sweet smell, but may produce less desirable odors in the process of breaking down various materials.

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