We all know that we can take kitchen peelings, parings and veggie or fruit discards and other organic items such as grass, limbs, twigs, leaves, etc. and add them to enrich our compost pile, but did you know that there are many items we discard after using that can also be added to the compost pile?
Items like used tea bags...yes, the little tag also; used coffee grounds and filters; egg shells; used paper towels and napkins; grocery store paper bags; newspapers (no glossy pages); the cardboard tubes inside wrapping paper, toilet tissue and paper towel rolls; any cardboard box that doesn't have a waxy or shiny finish (yes, even pizza and cereal boxes); used plain paper plates and cups that have no waxy finish; even paper tablecloths and crepe paper streamers that were used for your child's birthday party.
Food items you might not think of that can be added to the compost pile: stale bread, cereal, pretzels or crackers, uncooked or cooked pasta or rice (as long as they contain no sauce or other ingredients); nut shells, old herbs and spices; stale beer and wine (unless you take advantage to use them as an ingredient in sauces and soups); cardboard egg cartons and any cardboard container as long as it has no waxy finish, and even cupcake or muffin paper cups.
Big items such as large boxes or grocery store bags, newspapers, etc., can be torn into smaller pieces to speed the decomposing process or put through a shredder. Other unusual items you might not think of: lint from the dryer; used Q-tips (the ones with cotton and the cardboard stem, not the plastic stick); used facial tissue; used 100% cotton balls; discarded cotton and woolen clothing (tear them into smaller pieces to hasten the process); fur from your pet's brushings; droppings and bedding from your hamster/rabbit/gerbil cages; the newspaper used in the bottom of bird cages and even ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit.
From the office you can use torn up old bills and envelopes (tear out the glossy windows); spam mail; subscription cards from magazines; pencil shavings, sticky notes, receipts and business cards (as long as they aren't glossy); computer or fax copy paper can be shredded and used also as long as it is plain paper and not wax coated.
I too have learned to add my coffee grounds to the little ‘compost bucket’ I keep in my kitchen. I also add any egg shells, used tea bags, parings, peelings and veggie discards…. and since I learned about all the other things from the house I was just throwing away, I am adding them also to the pile.
I have been also adding the empty cardboard cores of toilet tissue rolls (I don’t use paper towels any longer, except when I do a demo at a location away from home or take to a picnic; but when I do I will add the used ones to the bucket and also the cut up core) my compost pile has been benefitting from cleaning out the house and at the end of the day, the bucket gets emptied on my compost pile. The worms go crazy and help decompose everything faster!
Not very appetizing, but it is what it is…. and just think….! this smelly pile will produce wonderful, rich dirt!
I also use any coffee leftover in the pot, add a bit more water and empty it around some of my plants as a weak tea….they love it!
Before throwing anything away, think first if there can be another use for it besides adding to the landfills.
To read the previous posts on this same topic, please click on the following links:The Home Farming Project - Edible Landscapes