Author: Lauren Plug
Whether you’re thinking about composting or you’ve just started to get your hands dirty, it’s tricky keeping track of everything that can be composted. Even the most seasoned composters need a reminder every now and then about what can be added to the compost bin. One thing’s for sure though — composting isn’t just limited to food scraps.
Right now you’re surrounded by countless pieces of plastic, but you’re also surrounded by a ton of items that you can compost! From blood to raw meat, explore the fascinating world of rot and microorganisms as we discuss 12 unconventional, weird, and sometimes downright gross items that can go into a compost bin.
What Are The Benefits Of Composting? Why All Repurpose Products Are Compostable
Compost here, compost there, compost everywhere!
We’re pretty obsessed with composting and educating anyone who wants to listen about what can be composted. This is why every single one of our products is certified backyard or commercially compostable.
But why? What’s so great about composting?
If you’re not quite sold on composting yet, keep reading, otherwise scroll down to the list of gross, compostable items.
The benefits of composting at a personal level:
- Composting is good for your physical health
- Composting is good for your mental health
- It saves you money
- It helps you reduce your food waste
- It helps you connect with the environment
- It lowers your carbon footprint
- It helps you connect with a community of like-minded people.
The benefits of composting at an environmental level:
- Compost improves soil quality
- It increases the health of soil and its ability to retain water
- It provides nutrients for plants and crops
- It reduces landfill waste
- It reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- It reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides
- Healthy soil sequesters more carbon dioxide.
Composting is something we can all do that directly combats the climate crisis.
We’re a company of moms, dads, siblings, cousins, friends, entertainers, hustlers, and chronically tired folks. We understand that sometimes the moment calls for convenience, for something easy, disposable, and affordable that you can use and forget about.
- But it doesn’t have to be plastic.
- It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out if it's recyclable.
- It doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet.
Composting food waste and organic materials not only inches us towards a more circular economy, but it also prevents waste too:
- Waste going into landfills.
- The maintenance and transportation of landfills.
- Methane emissions from rotting food.
- And the entire energy cycle that went into creating that item to begin with.
Composting is good for the soil, good for the air, good for the planet, and good for us.
Today we’re discussing weird, gross things that can be composted. But even if you don’t have access to a compost system at the moment, using a compostable kitchen bag, or tree-free paper towels, or literally any of our other products still has a lower carbon footprint than using plastic equivalents. Plus, all Repurpose products contain zero fossil fuels and are BPA, PFAS, and toxin-free.
10 Kinda Gross Things You Can Put In A Compost Bin
Let’s get right into it! If you’re using a commercial or municipal composting service, please always double-check with the service for any weird, gross, or items you’re unsure about. The guidelines for a compost bin are based on where the finished compost is going to be used.
- Can You Compost Raw Meat…
- Yes! A commercial compost pile is best for raw, cooked, or expired meat. Although technically it can be composted in a backyard system it will stink it up and attract pests.
- Can You Compost Bones…
- Yes! A commercial compost pile is best for animal bones (or human if you have one). Bones will break down in a backyard system but larger ones will take much much longer. Proceed with caution in a backyard system as it’s likely they will attract pests as they decompose.
- Can You Compost Hair…
- Yes! Human hair and pet hair are backyard and/or commercially compostable. To reduce the ick factor, keep hair scraps in a small paper bag you can easily add to and then toss in the compost pile.
- Can You Compost Nails…
- Ye! Human nails and pet nails are also organic substances and can be composted in a backyard or commercial system. Toss ‘em in that bin.
- Can You Compost Raw Eggs…
- Yes! Raw eggs are commercially and backyard compostable, but proceed with caution. In a backyard bin, they will smell, well, like rotten eggs and too many can also attract unwanted pests.
- Can You Compost Blood, Specifically Menstrual Products…
- Yes and no. Blood is compostable but menstrual products typically are not. Believe it or not, it’s not the blood that’s the problem, it’s the plastic. Pads and tampons contain plastic and other chemicals that keep them from composting. However, if you use reusable pads made from 100% cotton, like a GladRag, they can be composted at the end of their life.
- Can You Compost Moldy Food & Vegetables…
- Yes! Toss it in. Moldy food and vegetables are a go for a backyard or commercial compost bin. Mold actually contains some of the microorganisms that help with composting anyway. If you vermicompost proceed with caution as mold can affect the digestive systems of the worms.
- Can You Compost Dirty Paper Plates…
- Yes (and no)! Dirty paper plates can be composted unless they have a shiny coating (that coating is plastic). Good news — our paper plates are sturdy plastic-free, BPA-free, and commercially compostable!
- Can You Compost Dead Plants…
- Yes! Dead plants can be backyard or commercially composted but proceed with caution. We know you tried really hard but if your plant nursery became more of a plant mortuary, give your deceased plants a second life. Just make sure they weren’t a victim of an infestation and don’t contain fertilizer as both could affect the microorganisms in a compost pile.
- Can You Compost Human Bodies…
- Yep, you read that right! The human body can be composted but it’s only legal in a few states (WA, CO, OR, VT, CA, NY, NV). Organizations like Recompose are closing the lid on the toxic and wasteful way we end our lives and letting us give back to the environment one last time.
- Honorable Mention: Can You Compost Dog Poop…
- No! Dog poop is not compostable so put that biodegradable doggie waste bag down! Technically pet waste (dog poo, cat poo, cat litter, etc) is compostable but it’s not accepted in the majority of facilities due to the bacteria it carries. Any compost that contains pet waste (or human waste) cannot be safely used for soil that grows food.
- Honorable Mention: Can You Compost Vacuum Lint…
- Yes but proceed with caution. Vacuum lint can be safe for the compost pile if all plastics and random toys are removed and if you don’t have a lot of synthetic carpets in your house. For a non-carpeted home, most of your vacuum will be hair, nails, dust, and skin cells — all compostable items!
Things You Should Never Ever Never Put In Your Compost Bin
At its simplest composting is decomposition, but scientifically speaking, it’s a chemical process that involves a delicate balance between a variety of things. It’s really hard to ruin a compost pile as you can just rebalance it but there are a few things that should absolutely never go in a compost bin.
- Do Not Compost Plastic
- Plastic should never be put in a compost bin. But do not confuse plant-based bioplastic and regular plastic. Repurpose PLA products are made from a plant-based bioplastic that is certified commercially compostable (ASTM D6400 and D6868). All other plastics have been altered during production; they do not safely decompose and are not compostable.
- Do Not Compost Styrofoam
- We hate to be the bearers of bad news but styrofoam isn’t recycleable or compostable. And neither is your solo cup (which is made of polystyrene, chemically identical to styrofoam). Keep this out of the compost bin.
- Do Not Compost Poop, Fecal Matter, Or Litter
- We covered it above but poop, fecal matter, and pet litter should be kept out of the compost unless you have a specific pile (like a composting toilet) and/or approval. Technically all are compostable as organic materials but they carry bacteria that can make the compost unsafe to use.
- Do Not Compost Painted, Varnished, Or, Treated Wood
- Wood in and of itself is compostable as we’re sure you’ve gathered by now, but once it’s been painted, stained, varnished, or any other manner of decoration it becomes unfit for the compost bin. This is because most paints, coatings, and adhesives contain synthetic ( often toxic) ingredients that will not compost.
- Do Not Compost Rocks
- Don’t be fooled by all the rocks that you got. For the most part, rocks are naturally formed inorganic matter. Just like they took their time forming, they’re not going to break down anytime soon. They won’t hurt your compost pile but they offer no “nutrition” and will just need to be filtered out.
- Do Not Compost Glass
- Glass is another example of inorganic matter therefore there is nothing to biodegrade. It will eventually break into smaller pieces which become a hazard for anyone making and using the compost. Glass is, however, totally infinitely recyclable.
- Do Not Compost Produce Stickers
- We’ve digested our fair share of produce stickers but unfortunately, they are not safe for the compost bin. Produce stickers are made with plastics and adhesives that are safe for food contact but will never degrade (wah-wah). They can contaminate a compost bin so do your best to stick them to trash.
Biodegradable VS Compostable: What You Need To Know
When you start identifying compostable items you’ll also be exposed to products labeled ‘biodegradable’ courtesy of greenwashing. Let’s talk about the difference.
The act of composting is the decomposition of organic material via a set of actions, materials, and microorganisms.
Here’s where it gets tricky.
Technically, everything is biodegradable. All compostable items are biodegradable but not all biodegradable items are compostable. Confused?
Yes, plastic is biodegradable. It will break down, it will just take hundreds of years and it won’t provide nutrients back to the environment.
An item that is compostable means it breaks down in a safe and timely manner into organic matter in a compost system. Safe and timely are the main criteria.
All compostable (non-food) items must have passed rigorous testing and the labels must clearly show the certifications and the required method of composting (backyard or commercial).
Presently the U.S. lacks labeling regulations on the word “biodegradable” which can often be misleading, especially as companies work harder and harder to greenwash.
If it isn’t correctly labeled with an official ‘compostable’ label (like our ASTM D6400 and D6868 certified products) it’s trash.
Composting isn’t just a way to dispose of kitchen scraps — it’s a huge step towards living a more sustainable lifestyle and it’s a habit that directly impacts climate change.
Whether you’re composting with a small garden pile, a tumbler, some worms, or at a large, commercial scale, the possibilities of what can be composted are broader and diverse than you might have ever imagined.