Composting is a great way to fertilize your backyard and it also means reducing waste which normally ends up in landfills contributing to harmful greenhouse gases. While you can compost almost anything organic there are still a few things that you should never add to your compost.
1. Dog and Cat Waste
Some animal manure is great for your compost. Horse, cow, chicken, or rabbit droppings are rich in nutrients that will make excellent fertilizer for your soil. The waste of other animals, such as dogs and cats, contains microorganisms and parasites. This should definitely be avoided if you are growing your own fruit and vegetables, as you don’t want these harmful parasites near crops you’ll be eating!
2. Tea and Coffee Bags
Tea leaves and coffee grounds are totally fine to add to your compost pile, but only if they are loose. They are rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which are essential elements for plants and help them to grow. Tea bags or coffee bags are usually made with synthetic fibers which are not compostable and contain harmful chemicals. If the tea or coffee bags are made from cotton or hemp, then these natural materials will be fine to add to your compost.
3. Citrus Peels and Onions
Citrus peel and onions contain natural chemicals and acidity which will kill worms and other microorganisms which are essential for your compost pile. Citrus peels also take an extremely long time to decompose. If you cut them up into very small pieces, they may be okay, but it’s better to just avoid putting them in. Instead, you can use leftover citrus peel for homemade and eco-friendly house cleaners, and save the onion scraps in the freezer to make stock at a later date.
4. Fish and Meat Scraps
While fish and meat scraps are organic and they will decompose adding nutrients, unfortunately, their strong smell will attract pests. You could end up with some very unwelcome visitors to your garden. Mice, rats, foxes, and raccoons (even coyotes or bears, depending on where you live) will come sniffing around to ransack your homemade compost pile. Not only this, but the smell will make you unpopular with the neighbours!
5. Glossy or Coated Paper
While paper towels, tissues and shredded cardboard can be added to your compost bin, not all paper products are compostable. Some paper has plastic or glossy coatings, think of your glossy magazines. This type of paper won’t decompose properly, and the coatings can also contain harmful toxins which you don’t want in your compost pile.
6. Sticky Labels on Fruits and Vegetables
If you buy fruits and vegetables from your grocery store, you may find small sticky labels on the skin. While these are food-safe, they are not biodegradable. Always try to remove them from the skins and discard of them with the regular trash so they don’t end up in your compost. Of course, you can avoid the sticking labels altogether by growing your own fruit and veg!
7. Sawdust or Chippings From Treated Wood
Sawdust from untreated and natural wood is a great addition to compost, but if the wood has been treated with any type of varnish, stain, or paint, then do not add this your compost. These wood treatments contain highly toxic compounds, such as arsenic and cadmium.
They not only render the wood unable to decompose but they can leach into the soil, damaging the microorganism and contaminate any food produce you are growing.