The Do’s and Don’ts of Composting


Living near the ocean and mountains and forests, Vancouverites are probably more environmentally conscious then others. Recycling has become second nature to most of us by now, however composting is another great way to ensure everyday waste is used for good, rather then leaving it to fill up the landfills further.

What is Composting?

Compost is essentially decayed organic matter that is used as plant fertilizer. It’s a great way to put as much as 30% of our household waste back into the ground. Compost can be used for lawns and gardens to add much-needed nutrients to growing plants. And composting isn’t just for food scraps, though that’s a great place to start. You can also throw out other items to help the environment one step further. Rule of thumb: ensure that there’s no plastic or toxic chemicals in whatever items you are trying to compost.

Did you know that composting is sort of like vaccinations for your plants and helps keep them healthy and disease resistant?

What Can or Should I Compost?


Here’s a very abbreviated list of items you can compost with confidence.

Theatre tickets, leaves, fish bones, pet & human hair, wood chips, old spices, pine needles, paper napkins, paper towels, feathers, horse manure, grass, fruits and vegetable peels, matches, egg shells, sawdust, leftover or stale bread, plant trimmings, pasta, corncobs, fish meal & aquarium plants, newspaper, kleenex, soy milk, Q-tips (cardboard not plastic), grocery receipts, dead flies & bees, contents from your vacuum cleaner bag, pumpkin seeds, flower petals, nuts and shells, fish skin, tobacco, guinea pig and bird cage cleanings, cheese, tea bags, cereal box (cardboard, shredded), yogurt, toenails, seafood shells, fruit pits, lint, rice, pencil shavings, wool socks, brown paper bags, and much much more.

What Should I NOT Compost?

Though the list of compostable items seems infinitely long, there are many items you cannot put in your compost. As mentioned above, anything with plastic or chemicals should not be composted, however there are some organic materials that also should not be composted. These might attract pests, break down too slowly and delay the effects of a proper compost like the growth of your plants and gardens. Here are a few items to keep away from your compost and the reasons why.

Pet droppings: waste from pets like dogs and cats might attract parasites and infection into your compost bin and in turn affect your plants and gardens. Keep in mind that waste from other types of animals like chickens, horses and cows are okay to compost.

Bread: though most starch-based items like bread and pasta are ok to compost, some may cause pest problems so be sure the food items are scraps and/or rotten and/or stale.

Dairy: when disposing of dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk, only put in a little at a time. These items also can attract pests and ultimately don’t provide much nutritional benefit to your compost.

Sawdust and wood: be sure that when you put these materials in your compost they haven’t been chemically treated.

Meat and bones: animal fat, meat, bones and fish when left out for a period of time will draw animals and pests near and far with their stink, these items are better off not being composted.

Magazines: the colour inks used to print glossy magazines contain heavy metals and other toxic chemicals so these should not be put in your compost. Newspapers are safe.

Diseased plants: if you know your plants are diseased don’t put them in your compost as the disease could easily spread to your new garden.

Composting is a great way to keep your home greener and cleaner, and with this handy guide above, it’s easy too!

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