As you may have gathered, there are rules as to what you can and can’t compost, but once you understand what composting really is, the rules start to make a lot of sense.
What IS compost anyways?
When you create a compost pile, what you’re actually doing is creating a habitat for tiny bugs (called micro-organisms) that eat your food scraps and yard waste and convert them into nutrients that can be used by plants. In addition to nitrogen and carbon (found in the food scraps and other materials), these micro-organisms need water and oxygen to survive.
What CAN you compost?
You can pretty much compost anything that originates from a plant. If it grows, it goes. That means vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, tea bags, sawdust, wood ash, etc. All of these ingredients are good eating for our micro-organism community! Pretty straightforward right?
What CAN’T you compost?
When we get into what can’t be composted though, it gets a little bit tricky. What’s easy to remember is that you can’t compost anything inorganic (that means non-living). So anything that’s plastic, metal, rubber, glass, or any other material that wouldn’t make good food for our micro-organisms can’t be composted.
But what about meat and dairy?
When it comes to meat, bones, and dairy products things can get confusing. All of these scraps ARE organic, and theoretically CAN be composted. HOWEVER, these materials encourage the growth of the wrong types of micro-organisms, ones that are anaerobic (meaning they don’t need oxygen). These anaerobic organisms break food down very slowly and produce a nasty smell as they work. These materials can also create clumps in the compost piles that don’t break down well, and are far more likely to attract pests.
One day we’re hoping to be able to accept all organic materials,
but for now we’re sticking to this easy to remember mantra:
if it grows, it goes.