What to know about composting 101

Composting at home

What is composting?

Composting is a controlled, aerobic (oxygen-required) process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil through natural decomposition. The end product is compost – a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling material. Everything in the natural world breaks down into compost sooner or later – leaf litter in the forest, or a rotting tree on the ground. Compost is the natural cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. You can compost at home using food scraps from your kitchen and dry leaves and woody material from your yard.

Why compost at home?

Composting is nature’s way of recycling and it can happen without any involvement from us. It is one of the most powerful actions we can take to reduce our trash, address climate change, and build healthy soil. There are different ways to compost including worm composting (inside or outside) and outside composting (hot, which is a more active intentional process, or cold, which is a more passive process). No matter what composting process you choose, your aim is to produce an amendment that is beneficial to the soil. If you don’t have an outside space for composting, consider a local composting program, which may collect your food scraps or have a designated location where you can drop them off.

What can I compost at home?

You can compost the following things:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Flowers
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Untreated wood chips
  • Shredded cardboard

You can’t compost:

  • Cooked food
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Meat and fish
  • Fat, oil and grease
  • Used tissues
  • Treated wood


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