How Not to Compost

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Allie

After spending my evening running around my neighbors’ garbage dump garden chasing after the little dog who wanted to eat kitchen scraps from their compost for the 86 gazillionth m@#$#Q@ f@##$#g time, I thought I’d do a post about things you cannot compost. 

The list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Ice cream containers
  • Plastic anything
  • Plastic coated anything
  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Rusty Cans
  • Glass

Also, please, please, please don’t just throw garbage on the ground outside and call it a compost pile.  It’s not.  Chiot’s Run has a great post about a three-bin system.  And last year, I made my own bins from old garbage cans (pictured above).  This is a great way to compost without driving your neighbors crazy attracting every animal in the neighborhood.

And, another thing: please don’t pour your meat grease, driveway tar, or other liquid waste down the drainage grate at the edge of your yard. It makes my soul cry is bad for our waterways.

Okay, if you want a real guide on composting, check out this one.  It’s awesome.

In related news, we’re getting a fence!!!!


  1. Don’t forget to leave out dairy products too, I made that mistake once. Eewww.

    March 25th, 2009 at 3:26 pm
    Comment by David
  2. Thanks for the great composting bin guide. Here is another compost bin made out of an old pallet. I just found it and thought it was super cool.

    March 25th, 2009 at 4:40 pm
    Comment by GreenChick
  3. The composting link you provided at the end of the post is the very article I used when learning how to get my own compost area started. It really is a great resource.

    March 25th, 2009 at 6:14 pm
    Comment by Beth @ Smart Family Tips
  4. I have a compost tumbler and I love it. I am too lazy/busy to keep up with much more. I just open the lid, dump in my scraps, and spin it every few days. It’s perfect!

    March 25th, 2009 at 6:23 pm
    Comment by Leslie
  5. We have a little bin full of dirt and “stuff”; living in an apartment means “not much space”. I just give it a turn every few days, and toss in small handfuls of kitchen scraps.

    March 25th, 2009 at 6:42 pm
    Comment by Jules
  6. Great post. I didn’t think an old garbage can would work as a composter, but why not? I also checked out the link and it is full of good ideas.
    Happy composting!
    P.s. – we still have snow, so no composting yet.

    March 25th, 2009 at 11:50 pm
    Comment by wendy
  7. While it is still cold outside I am sticking with my worm composter in my basement. Those little wrigglers are keeping up with our daily wastes.
    Although my wife is ready to put them in the garage. Don’t want to freeze them.


    March 26th, 2009 at 1:16 am
    Comment by Robert
  8. You can compost chicken bones & stuff, but you have to bury them in a hole. I do this to mine and have never had any trouble with my dog or any other animals.

    Composting is a great way to be more sustainable in your garden. I am able to produce several wheelbarrow loads full of compost each year for my gardens from my kitchen scraps and yard waste (and I have a small lot).

    March 26th, 2009 at 3:05 am
    Comment by Chiot's Run
  9. [...] After spending my evening running around my neighbors’ garbage dump garden chasing after the little dog who wanted to eat kitchen scraps from their compost for the 86 gazillionth m@#$#Q@ f@##$#g time, I thought I’d do a post about things you cannot compost. [...]

    March 27th, 2009 at 1:01 pm
    Pingback by Quick Green Reads For The Weekend Volume 110. | The Good Human
  10. I’m new to composting but I don’t think it ever crossed my mind to put those items in there. eww! Mine has a bit of a smell but it’s just kind of sweet (maybe all the fruit?). When it starts to smell I just put more carbon in it.

    I don’t think my neighbors even know what the big black thing in my yard is. Don’t think they would get it if I said it was a composter. My neighborhood is not so eco-friendly. Judging from the large number of cardboard boxes all my neighbors have sticking out of their at least two large trash cans full of trash, no one recycles even. (we get trash pick up twice a week even!!)

    March 30th, 2009 at 3:31 pm
    Comment by Lisa
  11. I’ve always wanted to compost but living in the city I just figured it would be a bad idea (hello rats!).

    March 31st, 2009 at 12:14 pm
    Comment by CharmCityKim
  12. My roommate follows the rules on what to compost and what not to compost, but he just piles it outside and never mixes or turns it. The pile is now several feet high and maybe ten feet wide and is swarming with insects. Is this the way it is supposed to work? He also pours grey water on it, which I think should help break stuff down, but which I think is resulting in a rotting, slimy mess.

    April 13th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
    Comment by Wonderin

Leave a comment

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

  • Stay-ad

    Support This Site