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75 Things You Can Compost (and what to leave out of your pile)

It’s no secret that we are huge fans of composting and reducing green waste however possible. We practice hot composting, sheet composting and worm composting with our kitchen and yard waste. But just when we thought we knew all there was to know about what to put in (and leave out) of our piles, we came across this list that gave us some surprises and “Duh!” moments.

For instance, a couple of things we have never composted are wine corks and latex products like balloons. We DO compost dryer lint, dust bunnies and pet hair given our incredible bounty of these.

Here are 75 things that you can compost:

From the Kitchen

Things you can compost

Coffee grounds and filters

Tea bags

Used paper napkins

Pizza boxes, ripped into smaller pieces

Paper bags, either ripped or balled up

The crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors

Plain cooked pasta

Plain cooked rice

Stale bread

Paper towel rolls

Stale saltine crackers

Stale cereal

Used paper plates (as long as they don’t have a waxy coating)

Cellophane bags (be sure it’s really Cellophane and not just clear plastic—there’s a difference.)

Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants)

Old herbs and spices

Stale pretzels

Pizza crusts

Cereal boxes (tear them into smaller pieces first)

Wine corks

Moldy cheese

Melted ice cream

Old jelly, jam, or preserves

Stale beer and wine

Paper egg cartons


Bamboo skewers

Paper cupcake or muffin cups

From the Bathroom

Used facial tissues

Hair from your hairbrush

Toilet paper rolls

Old loofahs

Nail clippings


100% Cotton cotton balls

Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard (not plastic) sticks

Personal Items

It might be a good idea to bury these items in your pile. Just sayin’.

Cardboard tampon applicators

Latex condoms

From the Laundry Room

Dryer lint

Old/stained cotton clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces

Old wool clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces

From the Office

Bills and other documents you’ve shredded

Envelopes (minus the plastic window)

Pencil shavings

Sticky notes

Business cards (as long as they’re not glossy)


Around the House

Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister

Newspapers (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)

Subscription cards from magazines

Leaves trimmed from houseplants

Dead houseplants and their soil

Flowers from floral arrangements

Natural potpourri

Used matches

Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit

Party and Holiday Supplies

Wrapping paper rolls

Paper table cloths

Crepe paper streamers

Latex balloons


Excelsior (what the heck is excelsior?)

Jack o’ Lanterns

Those hay bales you used as part of your outdoor fall decor

Natural holiday wreaths

Your Christmas tree. Chop it up with some pruners first (or use a wood chipper, if you have one…)

Evergreen garlands


Fur from the dog or cat brush

Droppings and bedding from your rabbit/gerbil/hamsters, etc.

Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage


Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits)

Rawhide dog chews

Fish food

Dry dog or cat food

Source: Planet Green

Thing to Avoid in Your Compost Pile

Opinions vary about what can and cannot be composted. We avoid meat products, walnut shells, glossy paper, dog and cat waste, and chemically-treated wood. Experts disagree about composting dairy and grains. In our experience, they do attract pests. Here is a helpful list of things to avoid.

This all sounds complicated but it’s not. More than anything, we have learned that if you keep an eye on your pile, give it a little TLC and try to strike a 2 to 1 balance of browns over greens, then you simply can’t go wrong.

Balance, simply put:

2 x Browns = anything that USED to be living

1 x Greens = anything living

Most important? We’ve learned that shredding green waste (which we did using elbow grease before inventing the Green Cycler) will make your compost ready up to 4X faster!

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