Composting refers to the simple process that involves the decomposition of organic materials. The result of the process is a substance known as compost, which is the most incredible soil amendment you can integrate into your garden.
Through composting, you will have a means of storing all the waste in your kitchen and yard, which will get transformed into compost. Food waste and scraps as well as yard waste compose over thirty percent of what you throw every year. You can put most of that garbage to good use by turning it into compost.
As healthy and rich earth, the resulting compost can be of help in building the soil, improving the environment, and feeding the plants in your own garden. Compost is also useful when it comes to gardening as it can help nourish your plants with vital nutrients.
In addition, the composting process can give you a substance that you can use in improving the health of garden soil, encouraging microorganisms and earthworms, balancing the pH level of your garden, improving water retention as well as proper drainage, and reducing waste.
Importance of Understanding What to Not Put in Compost Bin
While composting is a fantastic habit that is beneficial not only for your household but also for the environment, you have to make sure that you do not just throw anything in your composting bin. This means you have to learn what goes into the bin and what you should never put in there.
You should know and understand the components of a good and beneficial compost combination and what to include in the bin and what you have to dispose of just like how you normally do with the usual trash. This is to ensure that everything inside the bin has the right balance.
Note that for composting to succeed, you need to keep everything balanced. It is important to find the right balance between the following:
- Green materials that often consist of nitrogen items, like grass clippings
- Brown materials usually composed of things rich in carbon, like dried and shredded leaves
You also need to make sure that you do not put inside the bin anything that should not be in it as composting needs to break down everything in a certain and the same time frame.
If you are not careful with what you put inside, you may end up having huge chunks of scraps and waste that may cause problems when spreading the compost you have made over your garden bed.
You also have to ensure that you do not put things and items you should avoid composting because of the following:
- They may cause an unwanted imbalance of brown and green materials.
- They will be unable to break down at the appropriate time – In some cases, it takes a lot longer to break them down. There are even instances when the items don’t break down.
- They may introduce fungi, plant diseases, and bacteria into your compost pile – There is also a risk for the unwanted items in the compost bin or pile to encourage critters to come inside.
To avoid all these issues related to composting, you have to be careful in choosing what to put inside your bin. Avoid materials that should not go in there.
Non-compostable Materials and Why They Should Be Avoided
Here are the most common non-compostable materials that you have to avoid putting into your compost pile or bin:
Anything that comes out of animals should never go inside your composting bin. A few examples of this would be the following:
Fish and meat products
You need to avoid any product of fish and meat because of their tendency to decompose. When their decomposed materials start to smell, it is greatly possible for them to attract pests. They can catch the attention of animals and pests, even those that are far away.
The smell is also kind of bad, which is one reason why those who decide to compost avoid these items. It is definitely not a good idea to compost meat as it may invite even the raccoons to get inside the bin.
Also, remember that meat and fish products result in the thriving and growth of bacteria. This means that it can only increase the number of harmful bacteria in your compost, specifically those that should not be part of your garden bed.
Dairy products, such as sour cream, cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt should never be placed in your own compost since they can effectively attract pests. You should also leave out any processed food with fat or dairy content. Oily and fatty products, like an oily salad dressing, have to be avoided, too.
Bones and Other Meat Scraps
Your pile should not also contain scraps from meat, like fleshy residues and bones. The main reason is they have this ability to attract unwanted pests. In addition, they are also known for being major bacterial hazards.
You should also avoid putting in your compost anything that contains and consists of synthetic materials, like rubber and plastic. Condoms and balloons should also be avoided because aside from not being made out of 100 percent latex rubber material, they also have synthetic additives designed to make them stretchy and tear resistant.
Condoms also have other extra contents that are not good for your compost, including spermicides and lubricants. Other items that contain synthetic materials and should, therefore, not be added to your compost bin are coffee bags and tea bags. They have synthetic fibers that will not easily break down upon adding them to the bin.
You can still incorporate coffee grounds and tea into your compost, but you have to make sure that they are bagless. K-cups should not also be composted. Never toss the entire plastic K-cup into your compost bin. You can just take out the coffee grounds and put them in the bin then dispose of the remaining material.
Diseased or Insect-Infested Plants
Do not put diseased plants or those infested by pests and insects in your compost pile or bin, too. Remember that it is necessary for your pile or heap to reach the temperature of 141 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days, so it can kill bacteria and fungi, making it non-feasible when it comes to compost or recycling bins in households.
In other words, there is a high risk for pathogens and pests to survive if you put these plants inside.
Pressure-Treated Wood and Charcoal
Do not add pressure-treated wooden material to your compost pile. The reason is that it may only cause your compost to start containing cadmium and arsenic. You should also not put wood treated with stain, paint, and varnish into it.
Remember that all these treatments can cause the wood material to contain a lot of chemicals, specifically the ones you should never integrate into the pile. These are toxic chemicals that may only have a negative impact on the microorganisms in the compost, as well as the health of plants.
Coal and Ash
Never put coal and charcoal ash in your pile, too. This is especially true if the result you are after from composting is a highly useful plant fertilizer. Be extra careful about what you compost as well as the possible harm it may cause your plants.
Note that charcoal ash and coal ash have substances that can damage your plants. These harmful substances may only cause the plants in your vegetable garden to die even before the fertilizer gets to do its job.
Materials That Should Be Limited in a Compost Pile
Dairy and Meat Products
There are also certain items and wastes that you can add to your compost pile but you have to limit them as much as possible. Among them are dairy products. While it is advisable not to put them in your pile, you can still put some of them but in limited amounts.
You have to limit these dairy products as much as possible because similar to products made of grain or grain, the former is also among the best food sources of pests. These products also tend to attract flies or wildlife.
Meat and kitchen scraps and products should also be limited because they do not only serve as bacterial hazards. They also contain substances, like fleshy residues, bones, and blood that can encourage pests to go to the pile and thrive.
Grease and Oil
You can also completely avoid or just limit the addition of grease, fat, and cooking oils into the heap. One reason is that oil wastes tend to encourage rodents to come and thrive in an uncovered compost heap or pile. In addition, they may end up interfering with the entire composting process.
If you dump huge amounts of cooking oil into the pile, there is also a tendency for it to develop a water-resistant barrier surrounding nitrogen and carbon materials inside the heap. This may prevent the absorption of water and lessen airflow.
Oxygen and moisture are also important to microorganisms breaking all of them down. This means that if you saturate your compost pile because of the cooking oils, there is a possibility for them to stop or slow down the microbial activity.
With that in mind, it is advisable to include grease and oil in your compost in only very little amounts. For instance, a tiny spill from your sauteed vegetables can be sopped up using newspaper or a paper towel before you toss them into your pile.
Weeds with Seeds
Limit or eliminate weeds with seeds when composting. The reason is that weed seeds can survive unless there is an extremely high temperature, or you have no plans of sowing seeds on the crops you intend to produce next.
You can also include pet wastes in your compost pile but make sure that they are only in limited amounts. The reason is that an excessive amount of pet waste, like dog poop, may cause your compost to be hazardous as it is prone to encouraging parasites and bacteria that trigger human diseases to thrive.
Cat litter and feces, specifically, carry organisms that lead to toxoplasmosis, a disease that affects pregnant women. It is because this disease derived from cat feces may cause serious injuries to unborn children. It is also possible to experience a similar problem when using your own waste or human feces.
The same hazards are also present in other pet wastes, like those from dog and cat. Note that even if the majority of the items incorporated into the compost bin do not trigger harm, the ones with bacteria or parasites are hazardous so be careful about what to add, especially when handling dog and cat poop.
Most diseased plants carry harmful bacteria and fungi that may get transmitted and spread to your compost heap’s organic nutrients. With that, it would be much better to avoid using diseased and invasive plants in composting or just limit your use of them.
Other Materials You Should Avoid Adding to your Compost Heap and Piles
Treated Grass Clippings
Your heap can actually benefit from untreated and natural grass clippings as they can provide carbon if dry and nitrogen if fresh. However, grass or lawn trimmings recently treated using certain household chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides should never go inside the compost.
It is mainly because of the ability of the freshly treated lawn clippings to impede the process of composting. It does so as it harms the microbes present in the pile. In addition, it may introduce toxic substances into the stream of food upon using the finished compost on your plants, especially the edible ones.
Onions and Garlic Scraps
These are not also great additions to your pile since they tend to scare insects and bacteria that are supposed to be useful in composting. These scraps may also kill worms and all other useful organisms.
Glossy paper and any other type of paper with a glossy plastic finish should not form part of your compost bin since those are toxic. Some examples of such paper are product catalogs, photographs, magazines, and wrapping paper.
Choose to add old paper towels, tissues, cardboard, and newspaper to your compost heap instead. Such paper products are derived from trees, so you can expect them to decompose naturally.
Citrus peels are not actually that bad when put in your compost but only in small quantities. If you add too much of these citrus peels, they may cause a problem. If added excessively, it can make the soil excessively acidic.
The reason is that they contain natural chemicals that can negatively affect your compost’s pH level, killing soil microorganisms and worms. It also takes quite a long time for these peels to decompose properly or break down.
A lot of food packaging materials are food-grade. However, you should still avoid composting them since most make use of plastic and other substance derived from plastic that is unsafe to add to the bin. Plastic bags used in packaging food also have to be avoided.
While it is generally okay to add tomato plants, fruits, and trimmings, you still have to be extra careful as such organic materials may cause the sprouting of baby tomatoes in any place you decide to use the finished compost.
With that, it would be much better to use them in other ways rather than in making compost so you can avoid those baby tomato sprouts.
Black Walnut Tree
It is also crucial to avoid putting twigs or leaves from a black walnut tree in your compost heap or bin. The reason is that this tree has what we call juglone, a toxin that causes damage to a lot of plants, like tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.
Be very careful when you decide to add dryer lint, too. The reason is that despite its ability to compost nicely, it still has plastic fibers or polyester, although often in small amounts. This may harm the contents of your bin.
Biodegradable Packaging and Products
While these biodegradable products are allowed for composting, take note that you can only do so in big industrial composting facilities. You may find it difficult to break them down or make them go through the decomposition process fast when composting at home.
How to Properly Dispose of Non-compostable Materials?
Zero-waste living is unrealistic for a lot of people. This means that you can’t avoid the presence of waste, especially at home. The best thing you can do is to exert an effort in limiting your carbon footprint.
You should also try to lessen the number of plastics you use every day. It is also advisable to learn the process of composting, so you will be able to find a proper use for your waste. However, for non-compostable materials and wastes, you should avoid throwing them down just anywhere.
You need to know how to recycle or dispose of non-compostable materials. One thing that you can do is to visit organic composting facilities as they may also give you some ideas on what you should do when it comes to recycling or disposing of the materials.
You may also want to start checking out the following facilities as they may be able to help you with the proper disposal of non-compostable materials, especially rotting meat scraps and animal manure and products:
Check out the supermarkets in your locality as they may be able to help you with the proper disposal of waste. A lot of supermarkets are now collecting materials that are not recyclable from home. They collect such materials with the help of the local council.
In most cases, supermarkets also provide a big bin, which you can find in the foyer. This is the spot that allows you to dispose of certain items that are not good for composting, including the following:
- Bubble wrap and shrink wrap
- Frozen food bags
- Toilet roll film
- Drinks multipack wrap
- Bread and produce wrap
- Cereal inner bags
Several libraries also provide the public with schemes that let you drop off any of your non-compostable and non-recyclable materials. Among the items they accept are electrical products, crisp packets, and batteries.
Food Recycling Centers
Check out food recycling centers in your locality, too. This may be an appealing option, especially if you are not fond of making the waste in your kitchen go to the landfill. Fortunately, you get the chance to choose a food recycling center based on the exact place where you live.
If you live in the city, you can rest assured that there will be a recycling center close to you that will eagerly accept the kitchen wastes you intend to dispose of. With the help of these centers, you will be able to divert home and restaurant food wastes intentionally from landfill.
Other Alternatives to Composting for Certain Materials
You can also use the following alternatives to composting for certain materials:
This may not be the most cost-effective technique when it comes to using and disposing of kitchen waste at the same time but it is still a good option. With the bokashi compost plan, expect the fermentation process to get done indoors without any foul smell or odor.
The reason behind this is that this plan follows an anaerobic approach, which makes it possible for you to keep and store non-compostable food scraps and wastes in an airtight container. What’s great about this is that it does not require you to stress too much about the ratio of nitrogen to carbon as it is not traditional composting.
To help you, you may want to invest in a bokashi starter kit. This is a good choice, especially if you live in apartments as you can do it indoors, and does not need the use of a yard.
You can also take advantage of a food recycler, especially if you are already one hundred percent sure that you can no longer compost because you lack the necessary space and time or because you are not that interested in the habit. This fascinating technique is so popular that many have already used it in managing their non-compostable wastes.
Note, though, that even if some label food recyclers as indoor composting devices, you can’t still expect them to compost the food. What it does, instead, is dehydrate and then sterilize it. You can expect this tool to be an elegant technique that is good to look at.
With this device, you will be able to take advantage of a carbon filtration system, which is free of odor. The recycler also makes it possible for you to use bones, meat products, and other materials and items that are not usually suitable for compost bins.
Moreover, it just comes with a single button-push operation and you can expect it to perform its job within just a few hours – after which, expect the recycler to shut off automatically.
To ensure that you make the most out of composting, you have to be one hundred percent sure that everything you put in there are those that are allowed. This means you have to learn what you should not put in your compost heap or pile.
Among them are animal products, synthetic materials, diseased or insect-infested plants, wood and charcoal, and grease and oil. In case you have plenty of non-compostable materials, you also have to learn how to dispose of them properly; otherwise, they may end up in landfills and cause damage to the environment.
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