Free Printable List of Compost Items: 130+ Materials

Are you new to composting and wondering what you can or can’t add to your compost pile? No worries! We’ve created a Free Printable List of Compost Items featuring 130+ materials for you to identify what to compost easily.

free printable list of compost items

If you’re stepping into the world of composting and finding yourself puzzled over what goes into the compost pile and what doesn’t, you’re in the right place! Getting started can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve put together a handy Free Printable List of Compost Items. This list, featuring over 130 materials, is designed to help you quickly and easily determine which items are compost-friendly. Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to refine your composting habits, this list will be your go-to guide for all things compostable.

The Importance of Knowing What to Compost

Composting, while beneficial to the environment and your home garden, can sometimes feel like navigating a complex maze with its dos and don’ts. Knowing what can and can’t be composted is crucial to avoid common mistakes that could harm your compost pile’s balance or even render it ineffective. For instance, while fruit and vegetable scraps are compost gold, adding the wrong materials, like dairy products or greasy foods, can attract pests and produce unpleasant odors. This is where having access to a detailed, comprehensive list becomes invaluable.

Key Components of the Free Printable List of Compost Items

Our free printable compost list is a quick reference guide to ensure that your composting efforts are effective and environmentally friendly. It details whether items can be composted, categorizes them as green (nitrogen-rich materials) or brown (carbon-rich materials), and includes helpful notes for optimal decomposition. 

Here’s a sneak peek into some of the categories and list of materials included:

Food Scraps

Apple cores, banana peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells are just the start. Dive deeper, and you’ll find that pasta, bread, rice, clam shells, nut shells, fruit pits, legumes, leafy greens, and seaweed are all fantastic for your compost. Whether it’s the acidity of lemon and orange peels or the nitrogen boost from coffee and tea, your food waste is a goldmine for composting.

Household Waste

Look around your home for compostable items. Bills, cardboard, paper towels, pizza boxes, newspapers, and paper bags turn into valuable carbon sources. Don’t overlook cotton and wool items, tea bags, coffee filters, egg cartons, and even corks. These materials add a rich diversity to your compost, breaking it down into nutrient-packed soil.

Yard/Garden Waste

The outdoors offers an abundance of compostable materials. From the dead leaves and garden trimmings to wood shavings, small branches, and grass clippings, your own yard is full of potential. Flowers, twigs, and untreated sawdust not only add bulk but also critical nutrients to your compost pile.

Animal Waste

Not all waste is created equal, especially when it comes to composting. Herbivore manure from chickens, cows, and rabbits is a nitrogen-rich addition that accelerates decomposition. Other beneficial items include animal bedding, dry dog/cat food, feathers, and fish scraps. Remember, properly handling and burying certain animal products like fish scraps can prevent pests, making these materials invaluable for creating rich, fertile compost.

What NOT to Compost

However, it’s not just about what you can compost; knowing what to exclude is equally essential.

Hazardous waste like dead animals, meat, diseased plants, dairy products, foods with sauces or cooking oil, cat litter, synthetic fibers, pet waste (i.e., dog or cat feces), and plastic bags should be avoided to prevent contaminating your compost and, ultimately, your garden soil. These materials can introduce pathogens, chemicals, or pests like fruit flies or rodents into your compost, making it unsuitable for use in your garden and potentially harmful to plant and soil health.

Download the Free Printable List of Compost Items Now

To get our free printable compost list, just enter your email below. Once submitted, you’ll receive the list directly in your inbox.

The Benefits of Composting

Making your own compost isn’t just about removing kitchen scraps and yard waste; it’s a game-changer for your garden and the environment. Let’s dive into how this simple practice makes a big difference.

Enhances Soil Health

Think of compost as your soil’s superfood. It pumps nutrients into your garden, spurring lush leaves and vibrant blooms, drastically improving your soil’s structure and health with essential organic matter. Compost also draws beneficial organisms, slashing the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers, sequesters carbon, boosts soil quality, and supports a thriving ecosystem.

Promotes Healthier Plants

Compost is a game-changer for plant health, encouraging resilience and growth. It balances soil pH for better nutrient absorption and deters certain weeds by deactivating weed seeds with its heat. Plus, it beefs up plant defenses against pests and diseases, ensuring your garden is both healthy and lively.

Prevents Soil Erosion

Compost is key in fighting soil erosion. It binds soil, boosts water infiltration, and reduces water runoff, keeping your garden’s soil intact and erosion at bay.

Conserves Water

Compost’s water-holding skills mean less watering for you and more drought resilience for your garden. It locks in moisture, ensuring your plants stay quenched with less effort.

Reduces Waste & Lowers Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Throwing your banana peels and coffee grounds into the compost bin means less trash in landfills and a big win for the planet. It tackles the methane issue head-on, cutting down on a major global warming culprit. Composting slashes carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by over 50%, making it a solid move for a healthier Earth.

Practical Composting Tips and Tricks

woman adding food scraps to compost pile

Starting with composting is straightforward when you know the basics. Here’s how you can manage your compost pile for the best results:

  • Layering Your Compost: Create a balanced compost pile by alternating layers of green (nitrogen-rich) materials like kitchen scraps with brown (carbon-rich) materials such as shredded paper or leaves. Aim for a mix of 1 part green and 3 parts brown materials. This balance is crucial for a healthy decomposition process, ensuring your compost pile works efficiently and effectively.
  • Moisture Management: The moisture level of your compost should mimic that of a wrung-out sponge. If the pile is too wet, add more brown material to absorb excess moisture. If it’s too dry, sprinkle water to achieve the desired moisture level.
  • Aeration: Regularly turning your compost pile helps mix the materials and introduces necessary oxygen. Oxygen speeds up the decomposition process by creating an environment that supports the microbes breaking down the material.

Our Composting for Beginners: How to Get Started Now article has you covered. It’s a comprehensive guide with everything you need to kick-start your composting journey. You’ll learn the basics, find tips on selecting the best composting methods, and get step-by-step instructions for building and caring for your compost pile. Curious about the differences between hot and cold composting? Wondering how to use the compost you’ve created? Got questions about composting pasta or what to do if you find maggots? This guide has all the answers.

Troubleshooting Common Composting Problems

woman shoveling garden waste into compost pile

Even with the best practices, you might need some help with your composting process. Here’s how to tackle common issues:

  • Pests: Cover the pile to prevent animals and insects from invading your compost. Burying kitchen scraps deep within the pile also helps keep pests at bay.
  • Odors: A smelly compost pile often indicates too many greens (nitrogen-rich materials) and not enough browns (carbon-rich materials). Correct this by adding more brown materials, such as dried leaves or cardboard, to absorb excess nitrogen and reduce odors.
  • Slow Decomposition: If your compost pile breaks down too slowly, ensure it’s adequately moistened and aerated. Incorporating a compost activator or additional green materials can provide the necessary boost to get your composting back on track.

Conclusion: Your Guide to Easier Composting

In wrapping up, this Free Printable List of Compost Items is your go-to companion for composting, whether you’re just starting out or looking to level up your compost game. With everything from food scraps to animal waste on the list, you can turn a wide array of everyday items into gold for your garden. With this list in hand, you’re well on your way to reducing waste, enriching your soil, and living more sustainably – the homesteading way. So, grab your copy, start composting, and watch your garden thrive thanks to your efforts.

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  1. Gold for your garden is exactly right!! Thank you for such a comprehensive and useful post. I look forward to your next one.

  2. I didn’t realize that bread, rice, and pasta are compostable. I thought that starchy things were bad for it. Thanks for this info!

  3. This is a very helpful post for those getting into composting. I am planning to start a compost pile soon, and I had a few questions that are now answered. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey there! Great question. Actually, paper towels don’t contain plastic; they’re made from wood pulp, which is natural, so they’re compost-friendly. But, they can’t be recycled because their fibers are too short. On the flip side, paper plates often contain a plastic coating, which means they can’t be composted or recycled. Hope that helps clarify things for you!