Home & Garden Garden 25 Things You Should Start Adding to Your Compost Pile By Margaret Badore Writer Columbia University Sarah Lawrence College Margaret Badore is a multimedia reporter in New York City. She wrote for Treehugger from 2013 to 2015, and is now web director at the YEARS Project. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Margaret Badore Updated May 27, 2019 CC BY 2.0. Kirsty Hall Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home & Garden Planting Guides Indoor Gardening Urban Farms Insects If you’ve already started composting, you’ve probably got the basic idea of what goes onto the pile. You’re already dumping your peels, cores, leaves, clippings and coffee grounds. You’re already thinking about your browns and greens, gathering them from your kitchen and yard. If you want to take composting to the next level, and reduce your household waste even further, here’s a list of some less-discussed items that can also get tossed in your composting bin or tumbler. 1. Shredded newspaperGlossy magazines don’t make for good compost, but thin printed paper can go on the pile. Help it break down faster by shredding it. According to composting guidelines from the Cornell University Waste Management Institute, most newspapers today are printed with non-toxic inks and pose no health risk. 2. Paper towels and napkinsBut only if you’re cleaning up food with these items—if you’re sopping up anything that might have chemicals don’t put them in the compost to avoid any possible contamination. 3. Wine and beerIf your wine has gone vinegary or your beer has gone flat, don’t fret—just pour it onto the pile. 4. Expired spices 5. Bedding from hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs 6. Cotton and wool fabrics 7. Jam, jellies and fruit preserves 8. Used matchsticks 9. Leftover brine or canning liquidIf you’re not using those juices to cook with, you can add them to your compost bin. 10. Jell-O (gelatin) 11. Expired yeastYou might not want to risk a bad batch of bread with a packet of yeast that’s past its expiration date. But according to the composting experts over at Gardens Alive, it may still have some microorganisms that can help your compost along. 12. Dry pet foodIf that old bag of cat food is hopelessly stale, or your puppy refuses to taste a new brand of kibble, you can throw dry pet food into the compost bin. 13. Bamboo skewers 14. Wooden chopsticksThey may take a long time to biodegrade, but it will eventually happen. Consider breaking them up a bit to speed the process. Although, it's better to hang onto reusable chopsticks, and ask for the disposable kind to be left out of your take-out order. 15. Wood ash 16. Tea bags 17. Candy 18. HairYours or your pet’s. 19. Feathers 20. Nail clippingsYour pet’s or your own, as long as they’re polish-free. 21. Cotton balls 22. Tooth picks 23. Natural wine corks 24. Saw dust 25. EggshellsI have seen several articles that recommend against composting egg shells, but I don't know why. Eggshells will break down in most compost systems. According to “Compost City” by Rebecca Louie (a great guide for beginners), you can even add them to worm bins. Do you have any other uncommon additions to the list of compostables? Tell us in the comments!