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  • FIRST POST
    • Ben84
    • By Ben84 16th Mar 13, 10:01 PM
    • 2,933Posts
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    Ben84
    Unexpected things that can be composted
    • #1
    • 16th Mar 13, 10:01 PM
    Unexpected things that can be composted 16th Mar 13 at 10:01 PM
    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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    Last edited by Former MSE Wendy; 26-03-2013 at 9:15 PM.
Page 1
    • Winchelsea
    • By Winchelsea 19th Mar 13, 3:52 PM
    • 691 Posts
    • 9,316 Thanks
    Winchelsea
    • #2
    • 19th Mar 13, 3:52 PM
    • #2
    • 19th Mar 13, 3:52 PM
    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!
    • kingmonkey
    • By kingmonkey 27th Mar 13, 12:09 AM
    • 830 Posts
    • 252 Thanks
    kingmonkey
    • #3
    • 27th Mar 13, 12:09 AM
    • #3
    • 27th Mar 13, 12:09 AM
    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.
    Last edited by kingmonkey; 27-03-2013 at 8:08 AM.
    • efsl
    • By efsl 27th Mar 13, 8:11 AM
    • 5 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    efsl
    • #4
    • 27th Mar 13, 8:11 AM
    • #4
    • 27th Mar 13, 8:11 AM
    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??)
    • Justamum
    • By Justamum 27th Mar 13, 10:03 AM
    • 4,685 Posts
    • 35,888 Thanks
    Justamum
    • #5
    • 27th Mar 13, 10:03 AM
    • #5
    • 27th Mar 13, 10:03 AM
    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.
    Originally posted by Winchelsea
    How long do they take to compost down?

    • morg_monster
    • By morg_monster 27th Mar 13, 10:46 AM
    • 2,359 Posts
    • 2,136 Thanks
    morg_monster
    • #6
    • 27th Mar 13, 10:46 AM
    • #6
    • 27th Mar 13, 10:46 AM
    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!
    • kevanf1
    • By kevanf1 27th Mar 13, 11:21 AM
    • 297 Posts
    • 210 Thanks
    kevanf1
    • #7
    • 27th Mar 13, 11:21 AM
    • #7
    • 27th Mar 13, 11:21 AM
    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
    Last edited by kevanf1; 27-03-2013 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Incorrect spelling of the word 'there', I typed their by mistake.
    Kevan - a disabled old so and so who, despite being in pain 24/7 still manages to smile as much as possible
  • So all but
    • #8
    • 27th Mar 13, 1:57 PM
    • #8
    • 27th Mar 13, 1:57 PM
    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!
    • gloriouslyhappy
    • By gloriouslyhappy 27th Mar 13, 1:58 PM
    • 400 Posts
    • 827 Thanks
    gloriouslyhappy
    • #9
    • 27th Mar 13, 1:58 PM
    • #9
    • 27th Mar 13, 1:58 PM
    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!
    • gloriouslyhappy
    • By gloriouslyhappy 27th Mar 13, 2:03 PM
    • 400 Posts
    • 827 Thanks
    gloriouslyhappy
    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.
  • guidarufino
    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
    • building with lego
    • By building with lego 27th Mar 13, 5:36 PM
    • 2,337 Posts
    • 5,721 Thanks
    building with lego
    The cotton nappies I used for my two children composted away to just the thread binding within five weeks
    They call me Dr Worm... I'm interested in things; I'm not a real doctor but I am a real worm.
    • kingmonkey
    • By kingmonkey 27th Mar 13, 6:57 PM
    • 830 Posts
    • 252 Thanks
    kingmonkey
    On the theme of nappies and human waste like dust from vacuum cleaners... you could compost your faeces. I mean you have no problem composting chicken or cow faeces.
  • EccentricRavenJewellery
    But that requires a compost toilet. People like me who live in rented homes can't just install one! (If I owned my own house, however, it would be a different story...)
  • JJ72
    Compost Tips
    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?
    Originally posted by guidarufino
    Hiya,

    In answer to your question, Yes, you should be turning the contents, this is needed to mix up the items and aerate the compost.

    I'd also recommend adding a sprinkle of "garrotta" (available from all good garden centres & DIY chains) each time you add a significant amount of new material to be composted, as this helps accelerate the rotting process.

    With regards to the tall plastic bins, I haven't had too much luck with those to be honest - I've found them hard to turn and they don't seem to rot very quickly - my grass cuttings were still clearly grass nearly a year later! (My compost is mostly grass, which may be a factor)

    My current approach is is to make a 3-sided "box" (I use paving slabs) and have a loose heap in that. This makes turning with a fork easy, plus it gets rained on occasionally, which helps.

    Finally, when the kids are caught short outside, they can wee on the heap as well, which is also a good additive for the rotting process! Grass rots down within several weeks and becomes soil within a year.

    I hope this helps and good luck!

    JJ
    • marich
    • By marich 3rd Apr 13, 6:51 PM
    • 112 Posts
    • 125 Thanks
    marich
    Compost Activators (and pond-life too !).
    Thanks to the recent post for reminding us that a bit of pee (diluted) helps to get the stuff rotted down .

    It's easy enough if you're out there already to have a handy container , but in wintertime I collect any night-pee and the first of the morning (the best apparently) and use that . I suppose it's easier for (old) boys like me !

    Another tip came from Jim McColl of The Beechgrove Garden fame . He uses a spadeful of soil every now and then . He says the soil has all the beasties and bugs you are looking for to do the job in a compost heap .

    I suppose it's like using a bucketful from one pond to start off the life in another .

    Hair , nail and lumps of bone don't compost .
  • 7oakslady
    Don't attempt to compost animal matter
    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.
    Originally posted by kingmonkey
    It's not adviseable to attempt the composting of meat, bones or any animal matter (except washed and crushed egg shells) on a domestic compost heap as it's incredibly difficult to achieve the high heat necessary to start the composting process. The Bokashi method of composting which takes place in a sealed bin in the kitchen is preferable for waste which cannot be placed on an outside compost heap. Also, putting animal waste on an outside heap can encourage rats and other vermin and before you know it, you've got rats nesting in the heap!
    • SailorSam
    • By SailorSam 4th Apr 13, 9:15 AM
    • 21,173 Posts
    • 36,772 Thanks
    SailorSam
    On the theme of nappies and human waste like dust from vacuum cleaners... you could compost your faeces. I mean you have no problem composting chicken or cow faeces.
    Originally posted by kingmonkey
    I would think the difference in composting some animal pooh and human pooh would be that animals such as cows eat grass, most people eat meat. So if meat can't be composted neither can any pooh which may contain it.
    Liverpool is one of the wonders of Britain,
    What it may grow to in time, I know not what.

    Daniel Defoe: 1725.
    • rogerblack
    • By rogerblack 4th Apr 13, 5:37 PM
    • 9,274 Posts
    • 9,438 Thanks
    rogerblack
    I would think the difference in composting some animal pooh and human pooh would be that animals such as cows eat grass, most people eat meat. So if meat can't be composted neither can any pooh which may contain it.
    Originally posted by SailorSam
    Meat and human faeces can be composted just fine.
    It requires a large amount of 'brown' matter - cardboard, wood shavings, paper, straw, ... to make a balanced compost, but composts fine, in a properly setup heap.

    The problems are that if the heap isn't properly managed, and at a high temperature, it risks other undersired stuff happening - for example, maggots or vermin getting in to it, or rotted meat with dangerous pathogens if it's really not heated up.

    In an industrial environment, with proper compost management, there isn't any problem composting meat - other than regulatory.
    Also, if recycling is picked up every 2 weeks only - in summer - that's quite long enough for a nasty fly infestation to occur.
    • Mumsie
    • By Mumsie 21st Jan 15, 9:02 AM
    • 26 Posts
    • 36 Thanks
    Mumsie
    How can I keep the rabbits out? Can I compost sheep poo? I've got loads of it.
    Charles J
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