What do I NOT put in compost?

QUESTION: What do I not put in compost? Which items should I avoid adding to my compost bin.

ANSWER: Compost piles will thrive with a wide range of organic ingredients being added to them regularly. However, the following items should never be put into a compost pile, but should be thrown out with the garbage instead: 

Meat and Dairy Products – Animal products like meat and dairy are perfectly biodegradable, but their smell attracts wild animals and pests that you don’t want digging around in your compost bin. 

Weeds – Though composting your yard waste is highly recommended and you are encouraged to add leaves, plants, and sticks into your compost bin, composting weeds should be avoided as the weed seeds may take root and start growing throughout your compost and could also eventually affect the soil that you mix with the compost when it’s finished decomposing. 

Baked Goods – Like meat and dairy products, baked goods decompose just like any other kitchen waste product, but they should be left out of the compost pile because they tend to attract pests and wildlife to your pile. 

Oils and Greasy Food – Compost needs a certain amount of moisture to function properly and adding oils and greasy foods to the mix can mess up the balance and keep your compost from decomposing properly. Oily, greasy food products can also attract unwanted critters to your compost heap.  

Highly Acidic Foods – Though citrus peels can be highly beneficial to your compost, adding in essential nutrients to the pile when they break down, adding in too much citrus fruit waste, as well as tomato products and pickled foods can alter the pH balance of your compost pile enough to harm your compost by killing off good bacteria working to break down organic materials in your compost pile. 

Treated Sawdust – While untreated sawdust is an excellent addition to your compost, treated sawdust or any kind of wood waste that has been treated with chemicals can be harmful to your compost. 

Pet and Human Feces – Pet and human waste should be kept out of your compost pile. Though recent studies have shown that adding human urine is an excellent way to boost the nitrogen levels of your compost, adding any kind of pet and human waste to your compost pile is going to make your compost smell bad. Pet and animal waste, especially, can create a health risk when not disposed of properly.