Over the past several years, we’ve noticed many of our colleagues in Edmond and Oklahoma City have started composting some of their food waste.
Originally, we all assumed this was because they just happened to be avid gardeners! But from asking about and listening to their reasons, I’ve learned there are many other reasons composting is seeing a surge in popularity.
In addition to the benefit to your soil, composting can reduce landfill waste and greenhouse emissions and deter pests in your garden. It can also help you build up and replace lost topsoil, which we typically lose every year due to erosion and agriculture.
Composting is fairly simple, too—but it does require more than just throwing all your food waste into a box in your backyard. Here are some things you should compost (and some things you should definitely just leave in the trash).
- Dead plants and flowers, including grass clippings, dead leaves, and even wood ashes
- Paper products, like shredded bills and used paper towels and napkins
- Feathers or hair from your pets
- Most nuts and their shells (but not walnuts—they have a chemical that is toxic to certain plants)
- Coffee grounds and paper coffee filters
- Stale or moldy bread
- White glue (like Elmer’s) and masking tape—yes, really!
- Natural wine corks
- 100% cotton balls and swabs
Just leave it in the trash
- Soaps or shampoos
- Meat, animal bones, or eggs (you’ll attract unwanted critters)
- Dairy products
- Oils, grease, or salad dressings
- Diapers or feminine products
- Pet waste or cat litter (there may be parasites)
- Dryer lint
- Glossy magazines or wrapping paper
- Charcoal ashes (contain toxins)
- Cooked rice and pasta
- Cigarrette butts
- Peanut butter
A lot of people find that it’s helpful to have one trash can for compostable material and another for things that aren’t. Even if you have a small garden, composting can be a simple way to reduce your food waste and provide the kind of soil that your plants will love.
Do you compost? What has been helpful to you in the process? What mistakes do you wish you had avoided?