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A Beginner's Guide to Composting

Composting is one of the easiest ways to make your home more eco-friendly.  And if you garden, it will even save you money because you can use your compost for soil. 

Start off by either buying or building a compost bin for your yard.  We built one without a bottom so worms can get in it.  worms are very good for compost...in fact, there's even a specific type of composting oriented around worms

Another tip is to have a little mini compost bin to keep in your kitchen.  You can use something simple like a coffee can, or you can buy one specifically for this use.  We have one with a filter in it so it doesn't get too stinky.  Makes things much easier!  I especially recommend this for those who live in colder climates.  I live in New England, and sometimes the compost bin gets buried in snow, so this way we can keep the stuff inside for as long as possible without it making the kitchen smell bad. 

For urban dwellers without a yard, many states and cities offer composting programs.  The EPA's website has lots of information!

You'll be surprised at how many things you can compost.  Once you start composting, the amount of trash you throw out will get smaller and smaller. 

First off, here is a brief list of things that you SHOULD NOT compost:

-Meat
-Bones
-Grease
-Eggs
-Dairy products
-Sick plants or plants infested with insects

Below is a list of some relatively common household items that you can stop throwing out in the trash and start throwing in your compost bin!

-apple & pear cores
-banana peels
-bird cage, guinea pig, and rabbit cage cleanings
-bread crust
-cereal boxes (shred them first)
-citrus rinds
-coffee grounds
-corncobs (they can take a very long time to break down, though)
-cotton swabs, but only if the sticks are cardboard.  (They're sometimes plastic, so make sure!)
-dryer lint
-egg shells
-envelopes, bills, junk mail
-frozen veggies or fruit that have been in the freezer too long
-garden soil
-GDiaper liners (a brand of cloth diapers with disposable liners...but only the pee-pee liners are compostable, flush the poopy ones!) 
-grape vines
-grass clippings
-hair clippings
-houseplant trimmings
-Jell-o
-leaves and pine needles
-matches
-nail clippings
-nut shells
-old flowers
-old herbs and spices
-old pasta
-paper napkins & paper towels
-pencil shavings
-pet fur
-popcorn, both popped and unpopped
-popsicle sticks
-sawdust
-seaweed
-shredded newspapers
-stale bread, potato chips, cookies
-stuff you sweep up or vacuum
-tea bags
-tissues (yes, even used ones!)
-toothpicks (wooden, not plastic!)
-vegetable waste, like carrot peelings
-weeds (but avoid composting weeds with lots of seeds in them)
-wine and beer once it's gone bad
-wood ashes

For more information on how to use your compost, visit RecycleNow's Home Composting Tips webpage.

Composting is so ridiculously easy and it's really great to see that you can turn your waste into something more usable.  Now if only our April Showers here in Massachusetts would stop so we can start using our compost in our garden...