Is It Possible to Compost Everything?

By Larraine Roulston:

Compost everything? It is indeed possible when referring to anything that was once alive! Organic materials should be composted, rather than landfilled where they are contributors to elevated levels of CO2.

Homeowners can divert over 1/3 of what otherwise would be trashed by composting vegetable/fruit peelings, eggshells, nutshells, coffee/tea bags, unwanted pasta and rice, as well as yard trimmings. Other household organics that can be added into a backyard composter include bone meal, cooled wood ashes and sawdust from untreated wood, wood chips, dryer lint, feathers, floor sweepings, flowers, hair, nail clippings, paper, pet fur, plants, seafood shells, toothpicks, droppings from vegetable-eating pets, weeds, as well as bits of cotton, felt, string and wool.

A composting toilet system’s microorganisms need air, water and a food source of human waste to survive. Dog owners can dig a pit in their yard for their pet’s feces. People with little or no yard space can opt for using either red wigglers in a worm bin, or a fermentation

Volaski composter method (this Brooklyn based group also offers a local pick-up service), or they can take organics to a Project Compost drop-off center. Many municipalities now offer a “green bin’’ collection program to residential areas — perhaps including high-rise buildings — that will accept meat, dairy products and oils.

Agricultural areas can compost animal manure, clover, hay, hoof and horn meal, hops, leaves, rice hulls, straw, all vegetable and fruit peelings, cores, hulls, pomace and stalks, as well as soil that is a valuable constituent of compost.

The industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector can become good stewards of the earth and oceans by utilizing an in-vessel or vermitech system. Some of their organics that can be composted include bagasse (plant residue left from milling sugar cane), felt wastes, fish heads, flower trimmings from florist shops, gin trash from the cotton industry, granite dust, hair clippings from barbershops, limestone, molasses residues, olive wastes, paper, sawdust, sewage sludge, sugar wastes, tanbark from tanning leather, tankage (a refuse from slaughterhouses), tobacco waste that includes stems, wood chips, ash and wool wastes.

The Rodale Book of Composting dedicates 39 pages of its compost guide to listing compostable materials, noting the important contribution of each to finished compost. As well, the IC&I can obtain valuable contacts and information by subscribing to BioCycle Magazine. Just imagine the tourism industry alone with its hotels, cruise ships and airports all coming on board with a responsible stewardship program to eliminate the organics they generate. In many cases, IC&I is becoming a huge player in reducing its waste stream through composting.

When the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) movement began, composting councils were emerging to form a strong infrastructure of experts, resources and information to promote the next wave of recycling. Composting has the potential to divert over 60% of what currently is landfilled. From children who view a worm’s habitat to the groups who are the largest generators of organic materials, there is little doubt that composting is a solution to replenish our soil.

Happy Composting!

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Larraine authors illustrated children’s books on composting and pollinating at www.castlecompost.com

Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

1 Comment

  1. Reply


    January 9, 2017

    Again, thanks for the links.
    My daughter found a Rodale’s The Complete Book of Composting at a used book store in New York, and lugged it home for me! It’s the 7th Printing, 1970.
    Great resource too. Not a lot has changed, except for the new laws against using some organic materials, like human waste. It’s considered a hazardous waste.
    Our Encina Waste control facility has made a great fertilizer out of the waste material they end up with…and it works well, but they can’t sell it. Seems sad, as it tests out to be ‘cleaner’ than most fertilizers or even potting mix soil.

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