What Can Be Composted at Home? – List of Compostable and Non-Compostable Items

list of compostable items for backyard

People often ask us, “What can you compost?” The truth is – you can compost a lot. That’s why we’re breaking it down right here on the blog. Collecting all this organic material is practical and environmentally friendly. 

We’re excited to share the list of compostable and non-compostable items. You’ll soon be on your way to more sustainable living. It’s such a joy to reduce waste and give back to the earth like this.

What Can Be Composted?

There are so many things that can be composted. But non-compostable materials can be unsafe for your compost pile by attracting rodents, introducing undesirable bacteria, and more. Follow these guidelines for a compost food list and beyond!

So, what can you put in compost? First, it depends on which type of composting you’re talking about. Let’s make that clear now before jumping into our list of compostables.

Industrial Composting vs. Home Composting 

Industrial or commercial composting is a large-scale project. Organic materials are introduced at extremely high volumes. The composted matter is maintained at higher temperatures to help improve decomposition – home composting doesn’t confer this advantage.

At Moonshot, we compost industrially. We make composting easy and clean. Simply set your compost aside in a bucket and we’ll pick it up and take care of the rest.

This article will focus on aerobic, home composting. We’re discussing how to handle organic matter from a single household or facility. Wondering whether to do it yourself or work with a compost service like Moonshot?

Read about the pros and cons of commercial composting vs. home composting here!

what can you put in compost at home?

List of Home Compostable Items and Materials 

Here, we’ll dive into what can go in compost at home. We’ll mention things like what food can be composted and other items acceptable for composting. 

Can meat be composted? Can paper plates go in compost? Get ready to hear answers to these questions and many more. 

Let’s get to it. We’ll start with some basic household compostable items.

Can You Compost Paper Towels?

Are paper towels compostable? Are soiled paper towels compostable? Both are acceptable. But you only want ones with dirt, water, or plant-based foods or solutions in your bin. These will decompose quickly if there’s no grease or chemicals. Papers towels that are greasy or soaked with cleaning chemicals are a no-go for your home composting efforts.

Throw in your napkins, too. Same rules apply.

Can You Compost Paper Bags?
Are paper bags compostable? Yes! These make for fantastic composting ingredients. They break down easily and are a great source of carbon.
Can You Compost Paper Plates?
Are paper plates compostable? Yes. As long as they don’t have a wax coating. Once again, like paper towels and bags, these can go in your bin. Consider heavy grease, though. Greasy plates that have contained non plant-based foods (think pizza, burgers, etc.) should stay out of the compost pile.
Can You Compost Parchment Paper?
Yes! Remember: it’s different from wax paper or butcher paper. We recommend cutting it into small pieces before composting. A related question we hear is: “Are Subway wrappers compostable?” Always check packaging/company guidelines. Subway states that most of their paper packaging is compostable.
Can You Compost Q-tips®?
Are Q-tips® compostable? Yes. Cotton swabs without plastic are “biodegradable when composted.” Check for this. You can even compost the cardboard container after removing the plastic window from the packaging.
Can You Compost Corks?
Are corks compostable? Yes. So, party on and compost on. Just be sure they’re not synthetic plastic. These are becoming increasingly common. Just check the bottle or company website. Otherwise, corks are made from the bark of trees. It’s all natural!
Can You Compost Aluminum Foil?
Is aluminum foil biodegradable? No. It’s not. You’ll want to rinse this and recycle instead. However, if it’s covered in oil and stuck-on food, it goes in the trash. Avoid or limit using foil if possible.
Can You Compost Pizza Boxes?

Most of the time, yes. The box should be made from corrugated cardboard, though. Some pizza boxes bear a wax coating. In this case, you should not compost them. However, just like paper towels and plates, pizza boxes that have been soaked with grease from meat or cheese cannot be home-composted.

Now for some compostable food items…

Can You Compost Meat?
Is meat compostable? We say no for composting at home. Technically, it’s yes if high temperatures are maintained. But it’s a slow breakdown, and it attracts flies, maggots, and both neighborhood and wild animals. Meats also carry the risk for disease that can live if temperatures aren’t high enough.
Can You Compost Gum?
Is gum compostable? No. It will not break down. Chewing gum isn’t even digestible in the human body. Don’t swallow gum, and don’t put it in your compost pile.
Can You Compost Bread?
Is bread compostable? Yes. And it decomposes quickly. It also provides a source of nitrogen for the soil. Beware: these scraps can attract pests.
Can You Compost Flour?
Yes, you can. Like bread, it could also attract pests. Be sure you mix it in well if you add it to your bin. Pro tip: Freeze the bag of flour before adding it to your compost.
Can You Compost Pasta?
Yes. Just like bread and flour, pasta is a starch that decomposes quickly. You can also compost rice, crackers, and pretzels. And sure, cooked pasta is fine, too.
Can You Compost Pizza?
Can pizza be composted? We’re assuming you’re not talking about full slices of pepperoni and cheese. Remember what we said about meats. But if you have bread crusts leftover, that’s fine to compost. As with other starches, you may lure pests.
Can You Compost Fruit Pits and Peels?

Can you compost peach pits? Can you compost cherry pits? Yes. The stone fruits’ pits will break down. Avocado and mangos have those rock-hard pits. They can take years to break down. Chop them up if possible.

Can you compost avocado peels? Be careful here. Only about 10 percent of your food compost should be avocado skins. In mass amounts, they slow decomposition down.

Can You Compost Nut Shells?

Can nutshells be composted? Can you compost walnut shells? What about peanuts? Are pistachio shells compostable?

These are organic. They come from the earth, so they can break down and go back into the earth.

Can You Compost Seafood Shells?

Can you compost crab shells? Can you compost clamshells? Can you compost shrimp shells?

Yes – either raw or cooked. These shells feed on bacteria and fungi. So, this helps the soil break down.

Compost rules for mussel shells are different. They can be composted if hot. But not raw. If you do decide to compost, crush these “rocks.” Heat them and break them because they break down very slowly.

Can You Compost Fish and Chicken Bones?
Are chicken bones compostable? Can fish bones be composted? Technically, yes. But the decomposition is slow. They are wholly organic, though. Be prepared for a rancid odor. And this will almost certainly attract unwanted rodents. Advanced home composting setups can handle this, but you may want to consider introducing these items to your local industrial compost facility instead.

Top Household Foods, Items, Etc. You Shouldn’t Compost at Home

Here’s a quick list of what you should keep out of your home composting pile:

  • Wood shavings from treated wood
  • Meat and dairy products 
  • Baked goods
  • Highly acidic foods (can kill necessary bacteria)
  • Oils and greasy foods
  • Pet and human waste
  • Weeds (can take root and affect the quality of your compost)

Some of these shouldn’t be composted for the sole reason of avoiding wild and domestic animals on your mound.

Learn How Moonshot Is Making Composting in Houston Easy

You asked – what items can you compost? We hope you feel more comfortable answering this question for yourself now. Make plans to better the planet. Show your family and friends the importance of composting compostable materials. Whether you’re interested in home or commercial composting, Moonshot has easy solutions for you! We provide your four-gallon bin, weekly collection, and anytime-cancellation.

Together, we’ll keep feeding the earth and starving the landfills.