Those of us who compost will be used to tossing vegetable peelings, lawn trimmings and leaves onto our compost pile. But did you know that the list of compostable household goods is actually far longer?
Here I share my top 10 suprisingly compostable household waste items.
Matches, either used or unused can be composted. If unused, make sure to soak them in water first to render them unusable. You don't want to risk starting a small forest fire in your back garden. I keep a small plant pot with my candle supplies to collect my used matches whenever I light candles.
Whether you've trimmed your fringe or just cleaned out your hairbrushes, don't toss the hair into the landfill bin. Instead, compost it.
3. Nail clippings
The same goes for nail clippings. Really. In fact, virtually anything that comes off the human body can - and should - be composted. I keep a discrete jar in my bathroom cupboard for collecting any nail trimmings - anybody nosing in my medicine cabinet is in for a surprise!
4. Sanitary products
This one surprises people a lot. If you use 100% cotton tampons or sanitary pads, you can compost them. So, if you're not quite ready to make the switch to a moon cup or washable pads but you want a more environmentally friendly option: here it is. Toss your used sanitary goods into the compost.
The same goes for 100% latex condoms (and 100% latex balloons, gloves, etc.) Even if they've been "used." As both the latex and the, uh, other substance, are entirely natural, they decompose well in compost and save on landfill.
6. Cotton fabric
Many areas now offer fabric recycling services, but if you're not living in one and have old 100% cotton items that are too used to donate, rip them up into small bits and compost them instead.
7. Pencil shavings
As long as the pencil in question isn't covered in a plastic coating, you can go ahead and compost these. I keep an old miniature plant pot at my desk and sharpen my pencils directly into this, rather than over my bin. When it starts to fill up, simply toss onto the heap.
8. Pet fur, feathers, skin and droppings
Much like human hair and nails can be composted, so can your pet's. Whether you're grooming your dog, your snake has shedded or you're cleaning out a hamster's cage, you can probably go ahead and compost the waste. If you use all-natural bedding in your pet's cage, this can be tipped directly into your compost. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
9. Paper food containers and plates
Many people fail to recycle their paper plates and pizza boxes, worrying that grease or food residue will make them unrecyclable. Instead of tossing them into landfill, I recommend scraping off excess food and tearing up into small bits to place in your compost heap - although, remember that excessively soiled or greasy items don't make good compost. Make sure that there is no plastic or wax coatings first.
After you've cleared up your paper plates and pizza boxes from your latest party, go ahead and do the same with the wine and champagne bottle corks. Chop them up small and toss them in the compost. Chopping them up will help them biodegrade much faster and saves you from having lumps of cork in your fresh compost.
A final piece of advice: if you're already a keen composter, you'll know that the ideal compost is a mixture of dry (brown) and wet (green) items. The above all fit into the 'dry' category, so make sure you're also adding plenty grass clippings, fruit and vegetable waste, garden trimmings and flowers gone bad. You'll also need to turn your compost regularly - weekly works best - and make sure it stays moist. If it looks too dry, you can add some water. Too wet and you can add more dry items before turning.