From the UC Blogosphere...
Brown and Green and Other Stuff
By Andrea Peck
Organics wastes do not contain methane. It is only when
they are placed in an anaerobic environment that
methane is produced. (See link in post for source)
The other day someone told me that orange peels can't be composted. Then I heard through a game of telephone that crackers and bread don't belong there either. That convoluted conversation ended with the hands-in-the-air conclusion that kitchen waste should not be composted at all.
You'd love to laugh - but you can't because let's face it, we have all been in that head-shaking position of can I or can't I?
Our compost is a crazy nest of mess. Egg Cartons, octopus, Tootsie Roll wrappers and other exotics have been found during compost turning days. Some things I need to pull out later, like plastic strawberry cartons and bottle caps, while others break down remarkably well.
But, what can you “legally” compost?
That list is long, long, long. This week I decided to make a short list that encompasses a sampling of odd-ball items that you may wonder about. I've placed them into an informal ragtag of unscientific categories.
Paper makes composting difficult because it encompasses a wide range of products. Compost cereal boxes, cardboard egg cartons, notepaper, old, new and junk mail, bills. School stuff: homework, flashcards, faux paper décor, messy handwriting practice and anything having to do with the Common Core. Party stock: napkins, paper towel, tissue, grocery receipts, paper tablecloths, paper plates, party streamers, pizza boxes, cardboard boxes. The list goes on. Infinitum. Assist nature by shredding large items first please.
- Woody Stuff:
Toothpicks, matches, wood skewers, sawdust, pencil shavings, twigs, wooden airplanes. Again, this is a category that goes on. Be creative, but don't drop anything in your chute that is toxic. Large wood items, such as logs and fence posts will decompose, but let's get real here, that will take many moons.
This is a favorite category for those of us who like to shock their neighbors. Compost your hair, pet hair, fur, feathers, whatever. Consider leather and eel skin, just don't go picking any pockets with the excuse that your compost needs more browns. Or are those green?
First, you should try to eat your food and then, if possible give it away to dogs and chickens and other creatures (this does not include your Ho Ho's, but you and I know that you ate every last one of those). Next, compost. Jam, jelly, spaghetti sauce, popcorn, fish, frozen vegetables, potato chips, crackers, bread, cereal, spices, tea, tea bags, coffee, grounds and filters, pasta, rice soy, rice and almond milk, tofu and leftover alcohol. Stay away from meat and dairy if you get rodents or critters. Your bin may not get hot enough to kill the bacteria associated with meat (bones included). Try to reuse and compost as much as you can because food that ends up in the landfill produces methane gas. See this link for more information: http://compostingcouncil.org/admin/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Keeping-Organics-Out-of-Landfills-Position-Paper.pdf
- Random Rubbish:
Dust bunnies, lint, cotton and wool clothing, masking tape, white glue and paste, household plant leaves.
You knew this one was coming. Chicken and horse poop, bunny pellets, bird droppings, fish bowl and aquarium water, gecko droppings…let's see what other animals do we have here? It's like a zoo in our home. Exceptions: dog, human, cat feces. And remember, it's very important to make sure the compost get hot enough to kill potentially harmful bacteria.
- Just Plain Gross:
I'll say it first. Yuck. Toenail clippings, razor shavings, Kleenex and cotton balls, non-plastic Q-tips. Your husbands attempt at a beard (not in the middle of the night, ladies). Stop. That's enough, already.
Finally, use your greywater to moisten your ball of wax.
Share your compost knowledge: comment below with additional weird and unusual items that have successfully (or unsuccessfully) made their way into your compost bin. Also, questions are welcome!
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