a hand removing a Grove compostable wipe from the package next to an attractive compost bin

Crazy for Compost: 30 Non-Food Items You Can Toss in the Compost Bin

Last Updated: July 1, 2022

To trash it or compost it, that is the question! We’ve got 30 non-food items you can toss in the compost bin, plus 7 things you think are compostable — but aren’t.

It’s estimated that 268 million tons of food waste are generated in the States every year, and around 28% of that is compostable. When those compostable food scraps end up in the landfill, they emit the greenhouse gas methane — a nasty air pollutant that’s directly related to climate change.

Composting scraps instead of tossing them has a significant impact on the amount of methane emitted from landfills. If every household in the U.S. composted, it’d remove the equivalent of over 7 million cars from the road each year.

Statistics aside, if you’re a seasoned composter, you’re probably familiar with the things you can safely compost — fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, houseplants, cardboard — the list goes on. But there are a bunch of non-food items that will happily rot away in your compost bin, and we want to share them with you. Keep reading for a mega-list of surprisingly compost-friendly items — and a few you maybe thought were compostable, but aren’t.

What is composting?

For those just getting into the wonderful world of delightful decay, composting is what happens when organic materials like food scraps and yard waste start to naturally decompose. Once they’ve completely broken down, they turn into a dark ‘n’ fluffy mixture that looks an awful lot like dirt — but isn’t! Compost is chock-full of yummy nutrients that your houseplants, outdoor plants, and vegetable garden love.

Learn how to compost

The best part of composting is that everyone can do it. Got a backyard? You can compost. Live in a high-rise in the middle of an urban jungle? You can get your compost on, too. We’ve got a handy beginner’s guide to composting that’ll teach you everything you need to know to get started.

30 Non-food items you didn’t know were compostable

Without further ado, here are 30 things floating around your house that you probably didn’t know were compostable. Keep in mind that only natural items are compostable — anything made from plastic or that has a plastic coating is a no-go for your green bin.

In your kitchen

  • Natural wine corks
  • Beer, wine, and spirits
  • Bones from meat and seafood
  • Used napkins and paper towels
  • Used matchsticks
  • Paper plates without a plastic coating
  • Barbeque ashes
  • Cooking oils and fats
  • Parchment paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Wooden chopsticks

Biodegradable vs. compostable — what’s the difference? We asked the experts and reported back with our findings.

Around your house

  • Used facial tissues
  • Toenail clippings
  • Furballs and feathers
  • Human hair
  • Natural fabrics like linen and cotton
  • Dryer lint from clothes made with natural fibers
  • Cotton swabs with bamboo sticks
  • Soap scraps
  • 100% natural rubber or latex balloons and rubber bands
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Aquarium plants
  • Pencil shavings
  • Natural potpourri
  • Pure beeswax or natural wax candles

Check out Grove members’ favorite compostable household items for sustainable alternatives to single-use disposable items.

For the holidays

  • Dirty paper table cloths
  • Carved pumpkins
  • Holiday wreaths made from natural materials
  • Evergreen garlands

7 things you think are compostable but aren’t

Some items just flat-out aren’t compostable, while others are technically compostable. However, leaving them in your bin could stink up the yard, attract insects, or — if you’ve got an outdoor compost bin — entice animals like racoons into your outdoor living space. These are a few items you should keep away from the compost bin:

  • Glass
  • Pet waste
  • Glossy paper
  • Black walnuts
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Meat and seafood
  • Menstruation products

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