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6 Items You Probably Shouldn’t Compost

Composting has been occurring naturally for millions of years, all without the help of fancy gadgets or mankind, turning dead plants and animals back into the earth over and over again. With the industrial revolution and modern waste management practices, we can no longer rely on time alone to breakdown the materials we use in our everyday lives. Discover a few of the items you may want to avoid putting into your indoor worm compost bin. And, not to worry, many of these items can be composted using alternative compost methods (click here to learn more about them).

Animal Byproducts

A small indoor worm compost bin may have difficulty composting animal skin, bones, and meat due to the size of the bin and the length of time it takes for these to decompose. These items also tend create an odor within the bin, attracting bugs or critters to it.

Certain Kitchen Waste

Excess grease, oils, spices, citrus, garlic, and onion scraps can be too aromatic or acidic for your Red Wiggler worms to digest. Some people have success feeding these ingredients in small quantities, we recommend starting slow to see what works best for you.

Some Tea Bags

Many tea bags contain polypropylene, a sealing plastic. Tea bags with this coating may look like they're breaking down in your compost, but often leach micro-plastic into your tea and end-use compost. Check the label before you buy so you enjoy a cup of tea without worry.

Coated Paper Products

Just like tea bags, many cardboard and paper products are coated with plastic, glue, glossy finishes, or are foil-lined and cannot be composted. You can try to separate the material to remove the plastic ahead of time (like cutting out the plastic window on junk mail) to compost these materials.

Plants Treated With Pesticide, Herbicides or Synthetic Fertilizer

While most plants can easily decompose in a worm compost bin (dead or not), you will want to avoid putting those with chemicals into your bin. These chemicals can irritate or kill the worms, or leave behind dangerous chemicals in your end-use compost.

Let’s Go Compost is a community-led effort to make compost bins free and accessible. We upcycle empty bulk ingredient bins into free, food-safe worm compost bins that are donated back to the community. Click here to get a free compost bin at our next monthly pick up event.


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