Composting is an effective way for residents to practice sustainability and self sufficiency. Read on for the starting from scratch guide!

Compost is the product manufactured through the controlled aerobic, biological decomposition of biodegradable materials. It mitigates climate change, improves soil health, increases soil productivity and reduces landfill usage. What you can compost and scenarios are crucial to deciding where your waste goes! 



Let's start with backyard composting. You can compost at home in two ways: 

Composting requires a balance of the following:

  • Carbon-rich materials (Browns) - Dry leaves, plant stalks, and twigs. The carbon-rich materials provide food for the microorganisms to consume and digest.
  • Nitrogen-rich materials (Greens) - Grass clippings and food scraps. The nitrogen-rich materials heat up the pile to create ideal conditions for the material to breakdown. 
  • Water (moisture).
  • Air (oxygen).

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A mix of browns and greens.



What You 
CAN Compost at Home

What to 
AVOID Composting at Home
Nitrogen-Rich Material (“Greens”) Meat, fish and bones
Food and vegetable scrapsCheese and dairy products
Most grass clippings and yard trimPet waste and cat litter
Coffee grounds and paper filters Produce stickers
Paper tea bags (no staples)Fats, oils and greases
Eggshells (crushed)Glossy paper
 Treated or painted wood
Carbon-Rich Materials (“Browns”)Aggressive weeds/weeds with seeds
Dry leaves

Diseased and pest-infested plants

Plant stalks and twigs

Compostable food service ware and compostable bags*

Shredded paper (non-glossy, not colored) and shredded brown bagsCooked food (small amounts are fine)
Shredded cardboard (no wax coating, tape, or glue)Herbicide treated plants
Untreated wood chips

Dryer lint



FOR GREENS - Collect and store your fruit and vegetable scraps in a closed container on your kitchen counter, under your sink, or in your fridge or freezer. 

FOR BROWNS - Set aside an area outside to store your steady supply of leaves, twigs, or other carbon-rich material (to mix with your food scraps).

There are plenty of options that do not add an unpleasant odor to your house! You can sprinkle the sealed compost vessel with baking soda, spray it with a tea tree and water mixture or even line the bottom with clay. 

(Source: CBC) 

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Composting pails in a kitchen are a great choice for storage and can be closed to mitigate smells. 

Composting starts inside with a mix of greens. 


The uses for compost are numerous. It can be added to flowers, vegetables beds, containers, tree beds, or mixed with potting soil for indoor plants, or used in outdoor soil. 

Compost can be used two primary ways, as a soil additive or as a mulch. As a soil addition, mix in two to four inches of compost to the top six to nine inches of your soil. As a mulch, loosen the top two to three inches of soil and add a three-inch layer of compost on the surface, a few inches away from plant stems and tree trunks. 

Adding finished compost to your soil :

  • Improves the structure and health of your soil by adding organic matter.
  • Helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients.
  • Attracts beneficial organisms to the soil and reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Reduces the potential for soil erosion.
  • Sequesters carbon in the soil.
  • Builds resiliency to the impacts of climate change.

For more information visit the EPA's composting page.

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Composting makes soil more productive for planting.