Green Wiki
  • Biodegradable waste
  • Brown waste
  • Food scraps
  • Fruit
  • Green waste
  • Tree bark
  • Vegetables
  • Bread and Crackers
  • Cardboard
  • Cocoa shell
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Hair
  • Leaf mold
  • Lint
  • Manure
  • Newspaper and Bills
  • Spent mushroom compost
  • Tea Bags
  • Wine

Greens for Your Compost Bin

"Greens" are the N-rich additions to your compost pile. These tend to have lots of moisture, break down quickly, and provide a quick burst of heat to your pile. While we call them "greens," technically any plant matter will work here: coffee grounds, for example, are brown in color, but they're rich in nitrogen, hence, they're a "green." Here are some ideas of greens for your pile:

1.Fruit and vegetable peels

2.Citrus rindsmn

3.Melon rinds

4.Coffee grounds

5.Tea leaves/tea bags

6.Old vegetables from the crisper

7.Houseplant trimmings

8.Weeds that haven't gone to seed

9.Grass clippings

10.Fresh leaves

11.Deadheads from flowers

12.Dead plants (as long as they aren't diseased)


14.Cooked plain rice/pasta

16.Stale bread

17.Corn husks/cobs

19.Broccoli stalks

20.Sod that you've removed to make new garden beds

21.Thinnings from the vegetable garden

22.Spent bulbs that you used for forcing indoors

23.Holiday greenery (from wreaths and swags, for example) -- just be sure to cut the stems off of the wreath form or wires first)

24.Old, less flavorful packaged herbs and spices

25.Egg shells

Browns for Your Compost Bin

"Browns" are the C-rich materials in your compost that add aeration to the pile and structure to your compost. They break down more slowly, so it's a good idea to chop them up fairly small if you're able to. Here are some browns to put in your compost pile:

26.Shredded newspaper, office paper/school papers, non-glossy junk mail

27.Torn up plain corrugated cardboard boxes (not with glossy coatings)


31.Bedding from hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits

32.Fall leaves

33.Chopped up twigs and small branches

34.Pine cones

35.Nut shells (avoid walnut shells as they can inhibit plant growth)



38.Used napkins

39.Toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes (cardboard>

40.Fallen bird's nests

41.Pine needles/straw

42.Paper coffee filters (used)

43.Pressed paper egg cartons, torn into small pieces

44.Sawdust (only from untreated wood)

45.Brown paper shopping/lunch bags, shredded/torn

46.Leftover peat or coir from seed starting

47.Coir liners for hanging baskets

48.Wood chips

49.Bedding from chickens

Food Scraps

Food scraps are the most common item that one thinks of when collecting compost. Fruit and/or vegetable peelings will break down and eventually give you nutrient soil for your garden. If you’re not a huge fan of cooking at home (with loads of veggies and other organic items), we’ve got some waste-free recipes that are sure to change your mind.

Bread and Crackers

Stale starches such as bread, crackers, pretzels and even cooked pasta and cooked rice can be beneficial for your compost because these drier items will help offset the wetter kitchen waste such as veggie trimmings or used coffee grounds.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags

As with dead leaves and paper products, spent coffee grounds and/or used tea bags have high carbon content, which is a necessary element to maintaining a healthy compost system. Most sources on the web say coffee grounds and tea are nitrogen rich, so are "greens," not "browns." Also, some brands of bagged tea come on non-compostable fabric, so this type of tea bag needs to be cut up, contents dumped into the compost bin, and then disposed of...And write a letter to that manufacturer to tell them to stop producing that type of bag, ;)


If you happen to have wine left over from that dinner party you had last night, you can add it to your compost pile. The ingredients in the beverage itself actually encourage the decomposition process.


See also:Paper recycling

Just like newspaper and junk mail, cardboard items can be thrown in the bin as a dry material. Remember to shred the cardboard into little pieces before composting. Common cardboard items around the house include toilet paper rolls, paper cartons from eggs and berries. Just keep in mind that all cardboard should be clean and grease-free. So, can you toss in that pizza box? Yes, but you should remove the oil-soaked portions first.

Newspaper and Bills

See also:Paper recycling, or Reducing Junk Mail

Almost all forms of clean, non-treated paper can be composted. The dry material will help balance the ratio of green (C-rich) to brown (N-rich) materials in your pile. Compostable papers include bills, junk mail, paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates and newspaper.


Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Human hair is compostable and recyclable. Hair from your hairbrush and/or fur from your pet are full of useful nitrogen that can be thrown in the compost pile. You can even toss in polish-free nail trimmings!


It’s all dirt anyway, right? Ashes from your fireplace, lint from your dryer and/or the dusty contents of your vacuum bag post-clean are all fodder for the bin. Now you have another excuse to do some really late spring cleaning.