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How to Compost and the Different Types of Compost Bins (page 2 of 2)

Learn about the different types of compost bins and what household items can be composted.

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Materials That Can Be Composted

The complete list of items that can be composted is extensive, but it can be categorized generally as either brown waste or green waste. Although all organic matter will compost, it is advisable not to compost items that may attract vermin or disease.

Green Waste Items for Composting

As the name suggests, this category includes all types of green leafy garden waste. Other types of fast-rotting waste material is also included in this group. All these items have a high nitrogen content

Example Ingredients:

  • Fresh grass clippings are a plentiful summer supply and should be layered with other items.
  • Flowers - stems should be chopped up; don't use diseased plants.
  • Nettles act as good natural activators.
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings can be added straight to the heap from the kitchen.
  • Vegetable crop residue, such as potato and tomato plants.
  • Young weeds, but avoid perennials.
  • Herbivore manure, such as from horses, cows and rabbits.
  • Tea leaves, but tea bags will take longer to break down.

Courtesy of © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Brown Waste for Composting

This category refers to the slower-rotting items that have a high carbon content.

Example Ingredients:

  • Dead or fallen leaves - use only small amounts
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and filter - use only paper filters
  • Cardboard torn into small pieces
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs ideally put through a shredder
  • Sawdust mixed well with more aerated material
  • Herbivore bedding, such as hay and straw

Courtesy of © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Other Items for Composting

There are a number of other items that are not immediately obvious candidates for composting but that are nevertheless suitable.

Example Ingredients:

  • Egg shells washed and crushed up
  • Hair - either human or animal hair since both are high in nitrogen
  • 100 percent wool or cotton cut into small pieces or tumble-dryer lint
  • Vacuum-bag contents, but use common sense as to what has been picked up
  • Wood ash in small quantities

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Items Not to Compost

Although all organic material breaks down, avoid the following as they may attract vermin and harbor potential pathogens:

  • Meat and fish (cooked and raw) can harbor disease and attract vermin.
  • Dog and cat feces can harbor disease.
  • Cat litter will normally contain feces.
  • Glossy magazines contain too many inorganic chemicals.
  • Barbecue coals and coal ash contain harmful sulphur oxides.

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