10 Things You Should Never Compost 538

We can’t say enough good things about composting. It’s great for the environment, saves homeowners money and makes gardening easy and fun. Composting is a great way to get rid of many kinds of household waste, kitchen scraps and landscape debris, but there are certain items that — for a variety of reasons — have no business going into your compost pile.

  1. Grease, fats and oils – A little bit is ok, so there’s no need to toss your whole compost pile if a few drops of bacon grease get in. But most fats and oils break down very slowly, making them a poor choice for composting. They also attract pests like mice, rats and insects.
  2. Pet waste – Be sure to keep waste from your cat or dog out of the compost bin (this includes kitty litter). It can contain dangerous pathogens like the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is especially harmful to pregnant women.
  3. Dryer lint – It might look like a prime candidate for composting, but dryer lint can contain all sorts of plastic particles and bits of synthetic fabric that don‘t break down in the soil, not to mention traces of detergent and dryer sheet chemicals.
  4. Meat and bone scraps – Much like fats and oils, meat and bone attracts vermin to compost piles and creates a very unpleasant odor as it decomposes. It also breaks down slowly, providing minimal nutrients for your garden.
  5. Glossy and colored paper – Paper products with bright colors and heavy gloss coatings may contain heavy metals. Toss them in the recycling bin, but keep them out of your compost.
  6. Vacuum cleaner bag contents – Household dust is innocent enough, but vacuum cleaner bags can also contain all sorts of other things, including pesticides, cleaning products and perfume residues, none of which are healthy for your garden.
  7. Milk and bread products – Though perfectly compostable, these items are beacons for pests. Steer clear of all dairy as well as bread (including cakes, pasta and most other baked goods).
  8. Chemically treated wood – Adding sawdust and wood chips to your compost bin is fine, as long as it doesn’t include chemically treated or pressure treated wood, which can introduce harmful levels of heavy metals into the soil.
  9. Certain plants – Generally speaking, plant matter is perfectly fine for compost. In fact, it’s what makes up the majority of most compost collections. But you’ll want to stay away from weeds that have set seed or that take root easily from stems and rhizomes; otherwise you might just find them growing again. Also, keep plants that are visibly infected with diseases or fungi out of compost piles. Some plant diseases, like tomato blight, can over winter in compost and then infect next year’s crop.
  10. Walnuts – The nuts, shells, leaves, wood and bark from walnut trees contain Juglone, a chemical that is toxic to many plants.
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