According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yard and food waste together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste that loads up landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost. Composting is very easy and the resulting organic material can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow outdoor plants.

Natural composting is basically biological decomposition, and began with the first plants on earth and continues to this day. When vegetation falls to the ground and slowly decays, it provides minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms. Modern composting technology includes heat to destroy pathogens and weeds.

Composting is not only easy and a great way to keep our landfill space to a minimum, it can also suppress plant diseases and pests and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. Composting has been shown to promote higher yields of crops and in nature, is a cost-effective means to facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts. It can also be used to remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff and capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air.

Things You Should Compost

  • Animal manure
  • Cardboard rolls
  • Clean paper
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Cotton rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Eggshells
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Hay and straw
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • Nut shells
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea bags
  • Wood chips
  • Wool rags
  • Yard trimmings

Things You Should Not Compost

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
  • Pet wastes
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

For more information about composting, visit the EPA’s website