By composting, we divert organic materials from landfills and create nutrient-rich soil for our gardens. It is essential to remember that not everything can be tossed into the compost bin without consequence. This article will explore things you should never place in your compost bin to ensure a successful and efficient composting process.
Whether you are a seasoned composter or just starting your green journey, understanding what items to avoid in your compost is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive system. So let’s dive into the list of key substances that should steer clear of your compost pile.
What Not to Put in Your Compost Bin?
Only some things can be tossed into a compost pile without causing issues. Knowing what items should be kept out of your compost bin is essential to ensure your plants’ health and maintain the composting process’s integrity.
It may cause mold in the compost if you put it in compost. Coal ashes may seem suitable for a compost pile due to their organic origin, but they contain harmful substances that can harm plant growth. Coal ashes often have high levels of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury.
Meat and Fish Scraps
These protein-rich leftovers may seem like they would break down quickly, but they can attract unwanted pests and produce unpleasant odors.
Meat and fish scraps contain high nitrogen levels, which can disrupt the balance of your compost pile. The decomposition process of these items releases ammonia, a compound with a strong odor that can linger in your garden. The decaying meat and fish can attract rodents, raccoons, flies, and other pests that may disturb your compost pile or invade other yard areas.
Chemical pesticides have long been used to control pests and protect crops from damage. These toxic substances have no place in the natural process of decomposition. One major concern with using chemical pesticides in compost is their persistence in the environment.
Many pesticides are designed to be long-lasting to control pests over an extended period effectively. This longevity also means these chemicals do not readily break down during composting. As a result, they can remain in the finished compost or leach out into surrounding soil and water sources when used in gardens or farms.
While it may seem natural to dispose of your furry friend’s poop in the compost bin, it can introduce harmful bacteria and parasites into the mix. These pathogens can survive in the soil long and risk human health. It’s best to use pet waste as fertilizer for non-edible plants or dispose of it properly in biodegradable bags.
For instance, materials like glass or metal are not easily broken down in the composting process. Instead of decomposing and contributing to the nutrient-rich soil, these items can cause more disturbance by taking up space and interfering with the natural breakdown of organic matter.
Treated wood or Plants With Pesticides
Many types of wood are treated with chemicals like arsenic or creosote to protect against decay and pests. These chemicals can leach into the soil when the wood decomposes, posing a risk to plants and animals. It’s best to avoid adding any treated wood to your compost pile.
Insect-infested or diseased plants
Insect-infested or diseased plants are among the top items that should never put in compost pile.
Insects such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies can wreak havoc on your garden if they find a comfortable home in your compost bin. These pests tend to thrive in warm and moist environments, which are ideal conditions for decomposition. Adding infested plants to your compost will only provide these insects with a breeding ground and an opportunity to spread throughout your garden once you apply the finished compost.
Similarly, diseased plants should also be kept out of the mix. Fungal diseases like powdery mildew and blight can survive even the hottest temperatures during composting.
Citrus Peels & Onions
All kitchen scraps are unsuitable for composting, and citrus peels and onions fall into this category. While excluding these common food items from your compost bin may seem counterintuitive, there are valid reasons behind this recommendation.
Citrus peels contain high levels of limonene oil, which can be toxic to many microorganisms responsible for breaking down organic matter in the compost pile. This oil acts as a natural insecticide, repelling pests from the fruit and hindering decomposition. Similarly, onions possess antimicrobial properties that can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria and fungi essential for proper composting.
Dairy, Fats, and Oils
Dairy items such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter are high-fat, leading to unpleasant odors and attracting unwanted pests like rats or raccoons. These fats take longer to break down than other organic matter in the compost pile and can create an imbalanced environment that slows down the decomposition process.
Fats and oils are another category of items that should be kept far away from your compost bin. While small amounts of vegetable-based oils like olive or coconut oil may be acceptable in moderation due to their ability to break down relatively quickly, it’s best to avoid adding large quantities of oil or fat.
Tea and Coffee Bags
Not all tea and coffee bags are fully compostable or biodegradable. Many brands use non-biodegradable materials such as nylon or polypropylene in their production process. These materials do not break down easily in the composting process and can even contaminate your entire pile with microplastics. It’s essential to check the packaging or contact the manufacturer to ensure your bags are truly compostable.
Black Walnut Tree Debris
Black walnut trees are beautiful and provide shade; they also produce a toxic substance called juglone. This toxin can be found in the tree’s leaves, twigs, and nuts and can harm other plants.
Juglone inhibits the growth of many plants and can cause wilting, yellowing of leaves, or even death. Adding black walnut tree debris to your compost bin will not break down properly and may contaminate your entire pile. It is best to avoid adding any part of this tree to your compost bin to maintain a healthy and productive environment for your other plants. Instead of tossing black walnut tree debris in the compost bin, consider alternative ways to dispose of it.
Glossy and Coated Paper
Recycling regular paper is a sustainable choice. Glossy and coated paper cannot be recycled similarly due to their unique composition. These types of paper are often treated with chemicals or have a layer of plastic coating, making them unsuitable for traditional recycling processes.
Glossy magazines and brochures are prime examples of glossy paper that should stay out of your compost bin. The shiny finish on these materials is achieved by adding a layer of clay or other minerals mixed with binders like latex or resin.
Conclusion–Things You Should Never Place in Your Compost Bin
It is essential to carefully consider what goes into your compost bin to maintain a healthy and effective composting process. Among the items that should never be placed in a compost bin are meat and dairy products and oily or fatty foods. These can attract pests and produce unpleasant odors. It is best to avoid adding invasive weeds or plants treated with pesticides, as these can spread unwanted seeds or chemicals in your garden.