What Can’t You Compost? Discover the Surprising Items That Should Never Go in Your Compost Bin

What Can’t You Compost: A Guide to Proper Composting


Composting is a sustainable and responsible way to dispose of organic waste while enriching the soil. It reduces landfill usage, helps combat climate change, and provides nutrient-rich soil for gardening. However, not everything can be thrown into your compost bin. In this article, we will explore what items cannot be composted and why.

The Importance of Knowing What Can’t Be Composted

Understanding what materials should not go into your compost pile is crucial for several reasons:
– Avoid contamination: Certain substances may contain chemicals or toxins that can harm plants or hinder the composting process.
– Prevent pests and odors: Some materials attract unwanted critters like rats or flies if added to the compost.
– Promote efficient decomposition: By excluding non-compostable items, you ensure a faster breakdown of organic matter into nutrient-rich soil.

Common Items That Should Not Be Composted:

Dairy Products

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter should not be included in your compost pile. These items release strong odors when they decompose due to their high fat content. Additionally, dairy products may attract pests like raccoons or rodents.

Meat and Fish Scraps

While fruits and vegetables are excellent additions to your compost pile due to their high nitrogen content (which aids decomposition), meat scraps should be avoided. Meat attracts animals with its strong smell but also takes longer to break down compared to plant-based material. This delay could lead to foul smells in your composter.

Grease and Oils

Grease from cooking oils or fats should never find its way into your compost bin. They create an oily barrier that prevents air circulation, slowing down the composting process. Additionally, oils can attract pests and create unpleasant odors.

Processed Foods

Avoid adding processed foods to your compost pile as they often contain preservatives, chemicals, or artificial flavorings that are not beneficial for the soil. Moreover, these items break down slowly and can attract unwanted pests.

Colored Paper or Cardboard

While plain paper and cardboard are excellent additions to compost due to their carbon content, colored paper or cardboard should be excluded. The dyes used in coloring may contain toxic substances that could harm plants and affect the quality of your compost.

The Benefits of Proper Composting

Environmental Impact

Proper composting reduces organic waste sent to landfills where it releases harmful greenhouse gases like methane during decomposition. By diverting this waste into a composter instead, you actively contribute to reducing climate change impacts.

Nutrient-Rich Soil

Compost acts as a natural fertilizer for your garden by enriching the soil with essential nutrients required for healthy plant growth. It improves soil structure, enhances water retention capacity, encourages microbial activity, and promotes overall plant vitality.

Sustainable Gardening Practice

When you compost properly and use homemade nutrient-rich soil instead of chemical fertilizers from stores or synthetic pesticides/herbicides on plants – you adopt a sustainable gardening approach. This helps protect ecosystems from harmful substances while ensuring long-term environmental health.


Understanding what cannot be added to your compost bin is as important as knowing what can go in it. Dairy products,
meat scraps,
processed foods,
and colored paper/cardboard all belong on that list.
By being mindful of what we put into our composter
we ensure efficient decomposition without attracting pests
and ultimately contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.
Start composting today and do your part in reducing waste and nourishing the Earth.