Compost Bin: What Goes In? The Essential Guide to Composting

compost bin what goes in

Hey there! So you’ve decided to start composting – that’s awesome! Composting is a fantastic way to give back to the Earth while reducing waste. But now you might be wondering, what exactly can you put in a compost bin? Well, fret not! In this blog, we’ll break it down for you and give you all the juicy details. Think of your compost bin as a magical cauldron where you can throw in all sorts of organic materials and watch them transform into nutrient-rich soil.

It’s like a natural recycling process happening right in your backyard. But what exactly qualifies as “organic materials”? To put it simply, you can toss in things like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, yard waste, and even paper products like newspaper and cardboard (as long as they don’t have any glossy coatings). These materials are considered “green” or “nitrogen-rich” and provide the necessary nutrients for your compost pile to thrive.

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But wait, there’s more! Just like a balanced diet, your compost pile also needs a good mix of “brown” or “carbon-rich” materials. These include things like dry leaves, straw, wood chips, sawdust (from untreated wood), and even shredded paper. These brown materials provide carbon, which helps to balance out the nitrogen and create a healthy environment for decomposition.

Now, you might be wondering, “Can I put everything in a compost bin?” Well, not exactly. There are some things you should avoid putting in your compost pile, such as meat, dairy products, and oily food waste. These items can attract pests and slow down the composting process.

Similarly, avoid adding weeds or diseased plants, as they can introduce unwanted pests and diseases into your compost. In a nutshell, your compost bin is a hungry monster that loves eating up all your organic waste. By providing a mix of green and brown materials, you’ll be feeding it the perfect recipe for creating nutrient-rich soil.

So go ahead, start collecting those kitchen scraps and yard waste, and get ready to witness the magic of composting!

Understanding Composting

So, you’ve decided to start composting and have invested in a compost bin. But now you might be wondering, what exactly goes in it? Well, the good news is that composting is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. When it comes to filling your compost bin, think of it as a balancing act.

You want to have a mix of “green” and “brown” materials. Green materials include things like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. These types of materials are high in nitrogen and provide the necessary energy and nutrients for the decomposition process.

On the other hand, brown materials such as dry leaves, shredded newspaper, and cardboard are high in carbon and help create a proper carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your compost. It’s important to avoid adding meat, dairy products, and oily foods to your compost bin, as they can attract pests and slow down the decomposition process. Additionally, be sure to regularly turn your compost to aerate it and speed up the breakdown process.

Before you know it, you’ll have nutrient-rich compost that you can use to nourish your plants and enrich your garden soil. Happy composting!

Benefits of composting

Composting is a simple and natural process that involves the breakdown of organic matter, such as kitchen scraps, yard waste, and plant debris, into nutrient-rich compost. It’s like nature’s way of recycling, as it mimics the same process that occurs on the forest floor. But what are the benefits of composting? Well, for starters, it’s a great way to reduce waste and divert waste from landfills.

By composting these materials, we can prevent them from releasing harmful greenhouse gases as they decompose in a landfill. Additionally, composting helps to improve soil health and fertility. When added to the soil, compost enriches it with essential nutrients, improves its structure, and enhances its ability to retain water.

This, in turn, promotes healthy plant growth and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Composting also helps to reduce erosion by improving soil structure and preventing runoff. It also aids in water conservation, as the composted soil retains moisture more effectively, reducing the need for irrigation.

Lastly, composting can save you money! Instead of buying expensive fertilizers and soil amendments, you can produce your own high-quality compost at home. So why not give composting a try and reap all these wonderful benefits for both the environment and your garden?

compost bin what goes in

How composting works

Composting is a natural process that breaks down organic materials into nutrient-rich soil. It’s like nature’s recycling system for food scraps, yard waste, and other biodegradable materials. The magic behind composting lies in the action of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, that break down the organic matter.

These microorganisms thrive in an environment with the right balance of carbon-rich “browns” (like dry leaves or twigs) and nitrogen-rich “greens” (such as fresh grass clippings or vegetable scraps). To start composting, you’ll need a compost bin or pile that allows air to circulate and moisture to drain. Layer your brown and green materials, making sure to keep the pile moist but not soggy.

Turning the pile occasionally will help speed up the process by adding oxygen and mixing the ingredients. Over time, the microorganisms will do their job, breaking down the materials into smaller components. As this happens, the compost pile will heat up, a sign that things are working as they should.

As the organic matter decomposes, it transforms into compost, a dark, crumbly substance that smells earthy and is teeming with beneficial microbes and nutrients. This finished compost can then be used in your garden to improve soil health, retain moisture, and provide essential nutrients to your plants. It’s a win-win situation – you’re reducing waste, and nature is rewarding you with a valuable resource for your garden.

Composting is a simple but powerful way to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future. By diverting organic waste from landfills, we reduce methane gas emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. So, whether you have a big backyard or a small balcony, everyone can do their part in making composting a part of their daily lives.

Start composting today, and let nature do its wonderful work!

Compostable Items

When it comes to composting, knowing what goes in your compost bin is essential for a successful and sustainable process. The goal is to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used in your garden or potted plants. So, what can you throw in your compost bin? Well, the answer is quite simple – organic materials that can break down naturally.

This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells. You can also add yard waste like leaves, grass clippings, and small branches. Certain paper products, such as newspaper and cardboard, can also be composted.

However, it’s important to avoid putting meat, dairy products, and oils in your compost bin, as they can attract pests and create unpleasant odors. By filling your compost bin with these compostable items, you’ll be well on your way to generating nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

Fruit and vegetable scraps

fruit and vegetable scraps, compostable items, composting, organic waste, nutrient-rich soil, sustainable gardening Composting is a fantastic way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. One of the best things to compost is fruit and vegetable scraps. These kitchen leftovers break down quickly and provide valuable nutrients to your compost pile.

Instead of tossing them in the trash, why not put them to good use in your garden? When fruits and vegetables break down, they release nutrients that plants love. This makes them the perfect addition to your compost pile. As the scraps decompose, they add valuable organic matter to the soil, improving its texture and fertility.

This benefits your plants, as they can easily access the essential minerals they need for healthy growth. Not only do fruit and vegetable scraps benefit your garden, but composting them also reduces the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills. When organic waste decomposes in a landfill, it produces harmful greenhouse gases.

Composting at home helps to minimize this problem and reduces your carbon footprint. To compost fruit and vegetable scraps, start by collecting them in a small container in your kitchen. Once full, transfer them to your compost pile or compost bin.

It’s important to balance the greens (like fruit and vegetable scraps) with browns (such as leaves or straw) to maintain a healthy composting environment. Turn the compost pile regularly to ensure proper decomposition and keep odors at bay. By composting fruit and vegetable scraps, you are not only reducing waste and creating nutrient-rich soil, but you are also contributing to sustainable gardening practices.

So, the next time you’re juicing your morning orange or chopping up veggies for dinner, remember to save those scraps for your compost pile. Your plants will thank you for it, and so will the environment!

Coffee grounds and tea bags

One of the best and easiest ways to reduce waste and contribute to a sustainable lifestyle is by composting. And did you know that coffee grounds and tea bags are perfect for composting? These items are not only compostable but also bring several benefits to your compost pile. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth, while tea bags add organic matter to the compost, improving its structure and adding nutrients.

Plus, both coffee grounds and tea bags can help regulate the pH level of your compost, creating an ideal environment for beneficial microorganisms to thrive. So, instead of throwing away your used coffee grounds and tea bags, why not give them a second life and contribute to the health of your garden?


eggshells, compostable items

Paper and cardboard

One of the compostable items that we often overlook or throw in the regular trash is paper and cardboard. These materials are actually fantastic additions to your compost pile as they break down easily and provide valuable organic matter to the soil. Paper and cardboard are rich in carbon, which is necessary for a healthy composting process.

So next time you have a pile of old newspapers or cardboard boxes, instead of tossing them in the trash, consider adding them to your compost bin. Not only will you be reducing waste, but you’ll also be creating nutrient-rich compost that can be used to nourish your plants and garden. It’s a win-win situation for both you and the environment!

Yard waste

One great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden is by composting yard waste. Yard waste refers to any organic material that comes from your yard, such as grass clippings, leaves, branches, and pruned plants. These materials are considered compostable because they can break down naturally and provide valuable nutrients to the soil.

Composting yard waste not only helps reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, but it also helps improve the health and fertility of your garden soil. By composting your yard waste, you are essentially creating your own homemade fertilizer. The process of composting involves piling up the yard waste in a designated area and allowing it to decompose over time.

Depending on the size of the pile and the conditions, it can take several months to a year for the yard waste to fully break down into compost. During this time, the microorganisms present in the pile will break down the organic matter, releasing nutrients that can be absorbed by plants. Composting yard waste is not only beneficial for your garden, but it is also a sustainable practice that helps conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So, instead of throwing away your yard waste, why not put it to good use and create your own compost? Your garden will thank you!

Sawdust and wood chips

compostable items, composting, sawdust, wood chips, organic waste Are you looking for a sustainable way to dispose of your organic waste? Look no further than composting! Composting is not only good for the environment but also beneficial for your garden. In addition to food scraps and yard waste, there are many other compostable items that you may not have considered. One such item is sawdust and wood chips.

These materials break down over time and add valuable nutrients to the soil. They also help to improve the structure of the compost pile, allowing for better air circulation and moisture retention. So, the next time you’re cleaning up your workshop or have some excess wood chips from landscaping, don’t throw them away! Instead, add them to your compost bin and watch as they transform into rich, fertile soil.

Composting with sawdust and wood chips is an easy and sustainable way to reduce waste and improve the health of your garden. Give it a try and see the difference it can make!

Grass clippings

Grass clippings are a fantastic addition to your compost pile. Not only are they easy to obtain, but they also offer numerous benefits when it comes to composting. When you mow your lawn, instead of just throwing away the clippings, consider adding them to your compost bin.

Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for healthy plant and soil growth. By adding them to your compost pile, you are introducing a valuable source of nutrients that can help your plants thrive. In addition to providing nitrogen, grass clippings also help to add moisture and organic matter to your compost.

This helps to create the ideal environment for microorganisms, which break down the organic material and turn it into nutrient-rich compost. So, next time you mow your lawn, don’t just discard the grass clippings. Instead, give your compost pile a boost by adding them in.

It’s an easy and effective way to make use of this otherwise overlooked resource.


compostable items

Items to Avoid

When it comes to composting, it’s important to know what items to avoid putting in your compost bin. While many organic materials are suitable for composting, there are certain things that can cause issues or slow down the decomposition process. One of the most important things to avoid is meat and dairy products.

These items can attract pests and create unpleasant odors in your compost bin. Similarly, oily or greasy foods should also be avoided as they can create a slimy mess and make it difficult for the organic matter to break down properly. Additionally, it’s best to steer clear of plants that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides, as these chemicals can linger in the compost and potentially harm your garden.

Other items to avoid include diseased plants, weeds with seeds, and large branches or woody materials that take longer to decompose. By being mindful of what goes into your compost bin, you can ensure that you’re creating nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Meat, fish, and dairy products

Meat, fish, and dairy products are commonly consumed as part of a balanced diet, but there are certain items within these categories that should be avoided for various reasons. One such item is processed meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of certain health issues such as heart disease and cancer. This includes products like hot dogs, bacon, and sausage, which often contain additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium.

Another item to be cautious of is farm-raised fish, as they may contain higher levels of contaminants due to their diet and living conditions. It is recommended to opt for wild-caught fish instead. Lastly, dairy products such as full-fat milk and cheese can be high in saturated fats, which can negatively impact heart health when consumed in excess.

It is important to choose low-fat or non-dairy alternatives when possible. By being mindful of the items to avoid and making healthier choices within these food groups, individuals can better support their overall health and well-being.

Grease and oil

grease and oil

Diseased plants

When it comes to gardening, keeping your plants healthy and disease-free is essential. One common issue that many gardeners face is the presence of diseased plants. These can be a real headache, as they not only look unsightly but can also spread their diseases to other plants in your garden.

To prevent this from happening, there are a few items that you should avoid in your garden. First and foremost, avoid using diseased plant material as compost. While composting can be a great way to recycle organic matter and add nutrients to your soil, using diseased plants as compost can introduce their diseases back into your garden.

Similarly, avoid using infected mulch or soil that may contain pathogens. It’s also important to regularly clean your gardening tools to prevent the spread of diseases. So, keep an eye out for diseased plants and take the necessary precautions to ensure the health of your garden.

Weeds that have gone to seed

In every garden, there are bound to be a few pesky weeds that take over if left untended. These weeds not only compete with your desired plants for nutrients and water, but they also have a habit of going to seed and spreading their offspring all over the garden. It’s important to identify these weeds and remove them before they have a chance to take over.

Some common weeds that are notorious for going to seed include dandelions, crabgrass, and pigweed. These weeds produce an abundance of seeds that can quickly germinate and establish new plants throughout your garden. To avoid a weed takeover, it’s important to regularly inspect your garden for any weeds that may have gone to seed and remove them promptly.

This will help to prevent the spread of the weeds and keep your garden looking its best. So, keep an eye out for those pesky weeds that have gone to seed and nip them in the bud before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your garden.

Coal or charcoal ash

coal or charcoal ash, items to avoid When it comes to waste disposal, it’s important to know which items are safe to throw away and which ones should be avoided. One such item that falls into the latter category is coal or charcoal ash. While it may seem harmless, disposing of coal or charcoal ash can actually pose a risk to both the environment and your health.

First and foremost, coal or charcoal ash contains various chemicals and toxins that can be harmful when released into the environment. When coal or charcoal burns, it produces ash that contains heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. These metals can seep into the soil and contaminate nearby water sources, posing a threat to both humans and wildlife.

In addition to environmental concerns, coal or charcoal ash can also be detrimental to your health. The particles in the ash can become airborne and be inhaled, leading to respiratory issues and lung damage. This is especially true if you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, such as asthma.

To properly dispose of coal or charcoal ash, it is recommended to place it in a metal container with a lid. This will prevent any potential toxins from leaching into the ground and polluting the environment. It’s also important to allow the ashes to cool completely before disposing of them to avoid the risk of starting a fire.

In conclusion, it’s best to avoid throwing away coal or charcoal ash in your regular trash. Be mindful of the potential harm it can cause to the environment and your health. Instead, take the necessary steps to properly dispose of it in a safe and responsible manner.

By doing so, you can help protect both yourself and the world around you.

Pet waste

As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to clean up after our furry friends, and that includes properly disposing of their waste. When it comes to pet waste, there are a few items you should avoid throwing in the garbage or flushing down the toilet. First and foremost, avoid using plastic bags to pick up pet waste.

While it may seem convenient to use a plastic bag, it’s not environmentally friendly. Plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose and can contribute to pollution in our oceans and landfills. Instead, opt for biodegradable bags made from plant-based materials.

Another item to avoid is flushing pet waste down the toilet. While it may seem like a convenient solution, pet waste can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can contaminate our waterways. Instead, double-bag the waste and dispose of it in the regular trash.

By being mindful of the items we use and how we dispose of pet waste, we can do our part in keeping our environment clean and healthy for everyone.

Inorganic materials

When it comes to inorganic materials, there are certain items that are best to avoid. One of these items is plastic. While it may be convenient and widely used, plastic is a major contributor to pollution and is harmful to the environment.

It is not biodegradable, meaning it takes hundreds of years to break down, and often ends up in our ocean, harming marine life. Another item to avoid is asbestos. While it was once widely used in construction due to its heat-resistant properties, asbestos is now known to cause serious health issues, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

It is important to be aware of the materials we use and their impact on both our health and the environment. By choosing alternatives to plastic and avoiding asbestos, we can help create a safer and more sustainable future.


So, to summarize, a compost bin is like the magical recycling center of your garden. It takes all those kitchen scraps, garden waste, and even some of your non-gardening organic waste, and turns it into rich, nutrient-dense soil that will make your plants thrive. It’s like the ultimate composting party, where everyone is welcome to join in the fun – from banana peels to grass clippings, eggshells to coffee grounds.

As long as it’s organic and non-toxic, it’s all fair game for the compost bin. So, embrace the power of decomposition, and let your compost bin work its magic. Your plants will thank you, and Mother Nature will give you a nod of approval for being an eco-friendly gardening genius.


FAQ 1: What is a compost bin? A compost bin is a container where organic waste materials are broken down naturally by microorganisms. It is used to create nutrient-rich compost that can be added to soil to improve its fertility. FAQ 2: What can I put in a compost bin? In a compost bin, you can put various organic materials such as vegetable scraps, fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, yard waste (leaves, grass clippings), and small quantities of shredded paper or cardboard. Avoid adding meat, dairy, oily foods, and pet waste. FAQ 3: How long does it take to make compost in a bin? The time it takes to make compost in a bin can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the bin, the materials used, and the weather conditions. Generally, compost can take anywhere from a few months to a year to fully decompose and turn into usable compost. FAQ 4: How do I maintain a compost bin? To maintain a compost bin, it is important to keep a good balance of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Additionally, the compost pile should be kept moist but not overly wet, and it should be turned or mixed occasionally to promote decomposition. FAQ 5: Can I compost citrus peels in a bin? Yes, citrus peels can be composted in a bin. However, they should be added in moderation as they can take longer to break down compared to other organic materials. Chopping or grinding citrus peels before adding them to the bin can help speed up the decomposition process. FAQ 6: What should I do if my compost bin smells bad? If your compost bin has a foul odor, it may be a sign of poor aeration or an imbalance of materials. To fix this, you can add more dry brown materials like leaves or shredded paper to absorb excess moisture and provide more air circulation. Turning the compost pile can also help alleviate the smell. FAQ 7: Can I compost weeds in a bin? Yes, weeds can be composted in a bin. However, it is important to avoid adding weeds that have gone to seed, as the seeds may survive the composting process and eventually germinate in your garden. It is recommended to remove the seed heads before composting.

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