What Can you Compost? Compostable Materials list

Everyone is always asking me what you can throw in your compost. I’ve heard crazy things like “you can’t compost orange peels” to “you can compost human feces”. So, what can you compost? I put this simple, easy compostable materials list that is perfect for beginners.

Compostable Materials List

The general things that you can always trust to compost include fruit and vegetable trimmings, leaves, and grass clippings. There are other things you can add such as cleaned egg shells, coffee grounds, paper bags, and more! Basically, you can compost anything that can decompose but also won’t potentially hurt you.

You’re currently reading “Can You Compost? Compostable Materials List”. If you’re wondering Why You Should Compost, click here.

Some people have told me you can’t compost orange peels or other fruits/vegetables, but that information is false. Having too much “green” material can lead to a really foul smelling compost, but you can combat that by adding more brown material.

What you shouldn’t put in your compost

Technically, anything that can decompose can be great compost. However, in your backyard there are several limitations. Backyard compost typically only gets so hot and is typically used within a short time frame. Any compost is susceptible to spread or creating disease, which is why we should avoid throwing the following into our compost:

  • Pet feces
  • Human feces
  • Weeds that have gone to seed (will spread the weed)
  • Diseased plants (will spread the disease)
  • Bones
  • Animal trimmings such as meat, fat, or organs

Can You Compost Human Feces?

A lot of people ask me (and I hope only out of curiosity) if we can compost human feces. Technically, yes. And although the The Martian accurately depicted this, it’s best not to try it on your own. Human feces contain a variety of bacterial threats that can harm us if ingested. But, if used properly it can also be safe, leading to a lot of conflict around the issue.

However, I think it’s best to leave the use of human biosolids to the experts, as they know how to test and respond to such threats. Especially because our backyard compost typically doesn’t get hot enough or decompose long enough for us to be 100% that it’s free from human fecal bacterial threats.

If you’re still tempted to try, I can guarantee you that you do not want to experience the effects of the potential diseases associated with human biosolids. (They all include symptoms of bloody diarrhea).

Author: Stephanie Voytek, RDN

Have a healthy and happy relationship with food by cooking with That Certain Touch.

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