Composting is an eco-friendly way to dispose of food waste and other organic materials. However, not all food waste is suitable for composting. In fact, some food waste can attract pests, emit foul odors, and even harm the beneficial organisms that break down organic matter. This section will provide an overview of the food waste items that should not be added to a compost pile or bin.
Meat, Fish, and Bones
Meat, fish, and bones should not be composted. These items can attract unwanted pests, emit foul odors, and take a long time to break down. While some specialized composters can handle these items, the average compost pile or bin cannot.
Dairy Products and Eggs
Dairy products and eggs should also be avoided in composting. As these items break down and ferment, they emit a strong odor that attracts pests and scavengers.
Butter, Cooking Oil, Animal Fat, and Grease
Butter, cooking oil, animal fat, and grease should not be added to a compost pile or bin. These non-compostable food waste items do not break down and can shift the moisture balance of the pile, attracting pests.
Fat-Based Condiments and Foods
Fat-based condiments and foods, such as oily salad dressing and peanut butter, should also be avoided in composting.
Citrus Fruit Peels
Citrus fruit peels should be avoided in composting. These peels take a long time to break down and can throw off the pH balance of the compost bin, slowing down the overall decomposition process. Composting citrus is especially forbidden if using a vermicomposter, as it can kill the hardworking worms.
Onions and Garlic Scraps
Onions and garlic scraps can be composted in small amounts in a regular compost pile, but they are not recommended for vermicomposters. These items can kill worms and other beneficial composting organisms essential for breaking down organic matter.
Baked Goods and Cooked Grains
Baked goods and cooked grains, such as rice and freshly baked bread products, should not be composted. These items breed harmful bacteria and attract rodents. Cooked rice is especially notorious for growing bad bacteria in a compost pile. Plain, stale, and hard bread is the only type of bread that should be composted, along with uncooked rice and pasta.
Coffee Pods and Tea Bags
Coffee pods and tea bags should not be composted, as many are made of non-compostable materials. Instead, remove the coffee grounds and tea leaves from their bags and pods. Switching to loose-leaf tea and zero waste coffee makers like a moka pot or French press can also help reduce waste.
Stickers on Fruits and Vegetables
Stickers on fruits and vegetables should be removed before adding them to a compost pile or bin. These bits of plastic do not break down and can cause composting contamination.
Coated Cardboard Packaging
Non-sustainable food packaging with plastic or foil layers, such as waxy-lined paper cups, milk cartons, juice boxes, and foil-lined paper snack, cracker, and cookie bags, should not be added to a compost pile or bin.
Bioplastic Packaging and Cellophane
Biodegradable packaging should be avoided unless certified to be home compostable. Many of these items are only compostable in industrial composting facilities. Compostable and biodegradable trash bags should also be researched before adding them to a compost pile or bin, as they may not be as eco-friendly as advertised.
Overall, composting is a great way to reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for gardening. However, it is important to know what items should not be added to a compost pile or bin to ensure a healthy and effective composting process.