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Unexpected things that can be composted

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Unexpected things that can be composted

edited 26 March 2013 at 10:15PM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
19 replies 14.8K views
Ben84Ben84 Forumite
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edited 26 March 2013 at 10:15PM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
I've discovered that most washing up gloves are made from latex and can be composted (a few are plastic however), and that many vacuum cleaner bags (the paper ones with a latex dust seal at the opening) can also be composted when full of dust and hair.

So, I'm wondering if anyone here knows of any other unexpected things that can be composted?
Great 'Which unexpected things can be composted?' Hunt

Thanks to Ben84 for starting the thread on 'unexpected things that can be composted'.

Now we want to dig into MoneySavers' collective wisdom and find out what else can help the environment and reduce waste. Suggestions already made include latex washing up gloves, full-up vacuum cleaner bags and woolly jumpers.

View all past Great Hunts


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  • WinchelseaWinchelsea Forumite
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    Padded envelopes - the ones where bubble wrap is "welded" on to the inside - go in my compost bin. Eventually I pull out the naked bubble wrap. (Have not been so extreme that I 've tried washing and re-using it!)

    Wool jumpers go in and eventually disappear, though if they are shop bought ones they are often sewn up with polyester thread, and a mesh of thread is left - but it's easily thrown in the bin.

    I'm sure there are lots of other examples of my"adventures in compost land"!
    Keeping three cats, the car and myself on a small budget, and enjoying life while we're at it!
  • edited 27 March 2013 at 9:08AM
    kingmonkeykingmonkey Forumite
    846 posts
    edited 27 March 2013 at 9:08AM
    All organic material will compost eventually even plastic. However, its clearly not advisable to compost plastic at home. It will take thousands of years.

    I suppose what most people don't realise is that you can compost all food waste - including meat, bones and small amounts of oil safely if you achieve hot composting.

    You can compost vacuum cleaner bag contents but invariably small bits of plastic or will be present.
  • efslefsl Forumite
    5 posts
    The only stuff that will compost is that which was once living e.g. latex, cotton, wool, hair, nail clippings or bags made from corn starch. However, the materials like wool and hair take longer than the usual stuff you put in your bin so are not suitable if you have an ordinary domestic bin and plan to use your compost within a year. You could put them in your green bin to be taken away to recycle though.

    Plastic takes between 20 and 100 years to bio degrade- depending on circumstances (and who you ask). Disposable nappies apparently take 450 years (how do they know??)
  • JustamumJustamum Forumite
    4.7K posts
    Winchelsea wrote: »
    Wool jumpers go in and eventually disappear, though if they are shop bought ones they are often sewn up with polyester thread, and a mesh of thread is left - but it's easily thrown in the bin.

    How long do they take to compost down?

  • I don't think I'd compost my hoover contents, it's mostly carpet fluff and our carpet is not 100% wool. Although on the other hand I guess some random non composted polyester fluff wouldn't do any harm once distributed through the garden!
    Our compost bin doesn't get very hot though, so I only put in fruit and veg really. Eggshells attracted rats and I found teabags didn't rot down either so now I put those in the council food waste caddy along with all our other food waste, and wet paper towels too!
    I usually put our fluffy cat's brushings in the compost bin but at this time of year I let it float around the garden for the birds to collect for their nests!
  • edited 27 March 2013 at 12:22PM
    kevanf1kevanf1 Forumite
    299 posts
    edited 27 March 2013 at 12:22PM
    A lot of people will say that meat and bones should not be composted at home. There is a very good reason for this and that is that it will attract rats, foxes feral cats and even dogs. However, it you are looking after your composting bin properly, turning it every week (2 to 3 days preferably) and putting a properly balanced mix into it then it should be ok. It will rot down fairly quickly, no, I don't know how quickly :( There are certain things that will slow a compost bin down. Onion and garlic skins and pieces are compostable but they will deter worms. Those worms are what do a lot of hard work for you in turning the composting material. Yes, literally turning it and dispersing it around the pile or bin. They don't like strong smelling/tasting food items though so they may steer clear hence your compost will take longer to become good friable usable material.

    If you are running a wormery separately from your main compost bin (bins x 5 in my case) be kind to them and give them a feed of mashed potato ever so often. They love it and thrive on it but not mustard mash please :)
    Kevan - a disabled old so and so who, despite being in pain 24/7 still manages to smile as much as possible :)
  • I haven't got a paper shredder, so I put credit card slips and other things that could lead to identity theft in my compost bin. They disappear quite quickly! Also small bits of natural fabric left over from dressmaking. I found that 'paper' plates aren't all paper, though - white plastic discs were left after the paper decomposed!
  • gloriouslyhappygloriouslyhappy Forumite
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    I put all the sensitive information from bank statements and bills in the compost bin - saves on a shredder as I just tear off the personal info, account number bits, put them in the compost and the rest in the recycle bin. Both green and safe!
  • gloriouslyhappygloriouslyhappy Forumite
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    Oops! My previous post came in at the same time as So all but's post, sorry for the duplication.

    Re teabags, I tear mine open and find they do compost more easily that way. A bit messy but effective.
  • The notes from our council about what you can and can't compost say definitely no to any meat products. I mostly put in food scraps, egg shells and some stuff from the garden but not hard wood.

    I've only had my bins less than a year, am quite excited about the results. I haven't even dared open either at the bottom in case I'm disappointed. I've never turned or mixed any of it up though, I just put stuff in the top and figure that the stuff at the bottom will be what I pull out and use. I do try and spread stuff out and not have too much of one thing in either bin. They're both about 4ft tall and are nearly full so it's too late to turn the stuff at the bottom. Should I be turning it next time I put stuff in there?
    No Unapproved or Personal links in signatures please - FT3
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