Can I Compost…

In the pursuit of eco-friendly living, composting has emerged as a revered champion. By turning our kitchen scraps and yard waste into nourishing food for our gardens, we can reduce waste and promote a sustainable life cycle.

However, not all scraps are created equal.

Unbeknownst to many, a slew of seemingly compostable items can be detrimental to the health and vitality of our compost piles, ultimately risking the well-being of our gardens and potentially the broader ecosystem.

From introducing pathogens to attracting pests and even contaminating the environment, the wrong composting choices can spiral into a series of unintended consequences.

While you may be eager to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s essential to be informed. After all, what you don’t know can hurt your compost. Dive into our comprehensive list, which deciphers over 200 items that can and cannot be composted, and ensure that you’re nurturing, not harming, our precious Earth (not to mention your own yard…).



  • Bacon Grease
  • Bamboo
  • Bananas
  • Banana Peels
  • Beans
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bindweed
  • Blueberries
  • Bones
  • Bread
  • Broccoli
  • Brown Paper Bags
  • Butter


  • Cattle Manure
  • Cardboard
  • Cat Poop
  • Charcoal Ash
  • Cheese
  • Cherry Pits
  • Chicken Bones
  • Chicken Manure
  • Chicken Poop
  • Citrus
  • Coconut Meat
  • Coffee Filters
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Cookies
  • Cooked Food
  • Cooked Rice
  • Cooked Vegetables
  • Corn Cobs
  • Corn Husks
  • Corn Stalks


  • Dead Animals
  • Dead Flowers
  • Diapers
  • Dirt
  • Dog Food
  • Dog Hair
  • Dog Poop
  • Dried Neans
  • Dryer Lint
  • Dryer Sheets


  • Eggs
  • Egg Cartons
  • Egg Yolks
  • Eggshells
  • Edamame Shells
  • English Ivy


  • Fabric
  • Feathers
  • Fish
  • Flour
  • Flowers
  • Food
  • French Fries
  • Fruit


  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grape Stems
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Grass
  • Grease
  • Green Beans
  • Green Onions
  • Green Potatoes
  • Gum


  • Hair
  • Hamster Bedding
  • Hard-boiled Eggs
  • Hay
  • Herbs
  • Honey
  • Horse Manure
  • Hosta Leaves
  • Human Waste


  • Iris Leaves


  • Jalapenos
  • Jam
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Junk mail


  • K-cups
  • Kimchi
  • Kitty Litter
  • Kleenex
  • Kombucha SCOBY
  • Kiwi


  • Leather
  • Leftovers
  • Lemons
  • Lemon Peels
  • Lettuce
  • Limes
  • Lint
  • Lipton Tea Bags
  • Lobster Shells


  • Mango
  • Marigolds
  • Marshmallows
  • Meat
  • Moldy Food
  • Mushrooms
  • Mussel Shells










Deciding On Your Own – Quick Guide

Obviously it’s nice to have specific answers about what can and can’t be composted but you’ll probably run into very specific things that no-one has an answer about.

So let me give you a list of general guidelines about they types of things that can or cannot be composted.

Do Compost

  • Organic Materials
    Anything that was once living or is biodegradable.
  • High in Nitrogen (Green Materials)
    Essential for the microbes that break down compost.
  • High in Carbon (Brown Materials)
    Provides energy for composting organisms.
  • Moisture-Retaining
    Helps maintain the dampness vital for decomposition without making the pile soggy.
  • Aerating Materials
    Things that create spaces in the pile, allowing oxygen to flow, essential for aerobic composting.
  • Natural Fibers
    Materials that are derived from plants or animals.
  • Non-Greasy Food Scraps
    Leftovers that don’t contain oils or fats.
  • Neutral pH or Slightly Acidic
    Materials that don’t significantly alter the pH balance of the compost.
  • Fine Particle Size
    Smaller pieces decompose faster, so anything that can be easily broken down or shredded.
  • Free of Disease
    Plant materials that are not diseased to prevent the spread of pathogens.
  • Unprocessed Natural Waste
    Things not treated with chemicals or synthetic additives.
  • Non-Invasive
    Any plant material that doesn’t contain seeds which might sprout as weeds in the compost.
  • Safe Manure
    Droppings from herbivorous animals, which are generally safe and rich in nutrients.
  • Free of Synthetic Chemicals
    Materials that haven’t been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.
  • Easily Breakable
    Materials that crumble or can be crushed easily, aiding faster decomposition.

Do Not Compost

  • Meat, Dairy, and Fats
    These can attract pests and cause unpleasant odors.
  • Diseased Plant Materials
    Risk of spreading diseases back to your garden.
  • Invasive Plant Seeds
    Can germinate and become a nuisance in your garden.
  • Chemically Treated Materials
    Anything exposed to pesticides, herbicides, or other synthetic chemicals.
  • Non-Biodegradable Items
    Plastics, metals, glass, etc.
  • Carnivorous Animal Waste
    Droppings from animals like dogs, cats, or humans can introduce harmful pathogens.
  • Greasy Food Scraps
    Leftovers with oils or fats that can create barriers to moisture and oxygen.
  • Highly Acidic or Alkaline Materials
    Can disrupt the pH balance of the compost pile.
  • Large, Hard Materials
    Big branches or items that decompose extremely slowly unless shredded.
  • Synthetic Fibers
    Anything not derived from plants or animals, such as polyester.
  • Processed Foods
    Especially those with additives and preservatives that might not break down easily.
  • Coal or Coal Ash
    Contains harmful substances and is highly alkaline.
  • Glossy or Colored Paper
    Often contains synthetic inks or coatings.
  • Pressure-Treated Wood
    Can release harmful chemicals into the compost.
  • Heavily Dyed Materials
    Dyes can introduce chemicals or slow decomposition.

Do note that these aren’t hard and fast rules, rather they’re guidelines to get you going.

You’ll learn as you go along that, in fact, most things can be composted.

In the meantime, play it safe and stick with the things you know for sure are good for you pile.

Happy composting!