The most common ingredients for a home compost heap are typically what we find during warmer months. Yard debris from leaves and small sticks, grass clippings and culls from the garden can add up quickly.
On the other hand, winter can be a lean time for making deposits from ingredients typically found outside the house. Fortunately, there are many additions we can make from inside the house, no matter what time of year.
One of the easiest ways to clean up the kitchen while contributing valuable ingredients to my compost collection is to toss food scraps from salads, vegetables and fruits into a large stainless steel bowl that we keep on the counter.
Just about anything from a living source can be composted. From the kitchen, add all fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, paper towels and the roll, napkins, oatmeal, banana peels, eggshells and tea bags.
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From other areas within the house, vacuum cleaner bags and their contents, dryer lint, cardboard rolls, newspaper, cotton and wool rags, hair and fur, and houseplants can all be thrown in.
One of my favorite items for building mass quickly in my compost collection is shredded paper.
A decent shredder that costs around $150 can make quick work of converting junk mail, printed emails and old homework into an important carbon source for compost. The best part is that it breaks down quickly once exposed to the elements. In a matter of weeks, you can’t even notice that paper was recently added.
As with everything in life, there are exceptions to these rules. Don’t add meat products, bones, fats, grease, oils or dairy products to compost. They create odors that can attract pests such as rodents and flies and lead to other problems. And don’t compost pet or human wastes.
These can contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens and viruses that are harmful to humans.
If you really want to get aggressive in building a large quantity of compost ingredients quickly, look outside your own home. Consider the produce department of your local grocery stores.
Every day there are large trash containers being filled with culled produce that would otherwise find its way to the dumpster. Check with management about setting it aside for you instead.