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  • Writer's pictureThe Pink Elephant Lady

11 Tips for Bug-Free, Odor-Free, Safe Composting

  • Starbucks cups, other fast food/coffee cups and bowls are NOT compostable. Neither are conventional paper plates. These products have a thin plastic coating to prevent foods from seeping through. If these products were in fact compostable, there would be no need for certified compostable products to be on the market.

  • The vast majority of compostable bags, foodware, and utensils are NOT suitable for backyard compost bins. They must be processed in an industrial/commercial composting facility, as your backyard bin does not have the proper conditions for these products to break down.

  • Use a freezer collection bin for items that tend to get stinky, and save the space in your kitchen compost bin for items that generally remain odor-free. Cooked or raw eggs, fish, animal bones, the white part of onions, broccoli, cabbage, citrus peels, the white part of potatoes, prepared food (plate scrapings), dairy, and meat should all go in your freezer bin. Everything else (egg shells, all other fruit and vegetable peels, and any other types of organic waste) will remain relatively odor-free in your kitchen countertop bin.

Recently we visited Fox 2 News to discuss Zero Waste Lunches and composting when packing lunches.

  • Used paper towel, Kleenex, and napkins can go in your compost bin. Plus, these 'browns' (carbon-rich materials) can help keep compost odors at bay by balancing out the 'greens' (nitrogen and protein rich materials). You can also add hair from when you clean your hair brush, and wine corks.

  • Wet or food-soiled paper and cardboard should be composted, not recycled. The top of your pizza box may be fine for recycling, but the bottom is likely to be grease-stained. Again, these 'browns' can help your compost stay odor-free. Cut it up if your bin is running out of room.

  • Meat, dairy, and other fats will eventually break down, but will take much longer than other materials. If you're not using a composting pick-up or drop-off service, you may want to skip composting these materials, as they can attract rodents and pests to your outdoor bin.

  • The term 'organic waste' refers to material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or an animal (as opposed to things like glass, metal, and plastic). This does NOT mean that your compost service only accepts food waste from organic fruits and vegetables!

  • While an air-tight lid might keep odors from circulating in the home, it also encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria (organisms that thrive in environments that lack oxygeen), and it's these types of bacteria that cause the worst kinds of odors.

  • Microscopic fruit fly eggs are already on your fruit and veggies when you bring them home. To reduce bugs, wash all fruits and veggies shortly after shopping, even the ones where the peel is not eaten (oranges, bananas, etc.).

  • Food waste is an underappreciated driver of climate change, but plastic gets all the attention. Food waste is a larger component of landfill waste than plastic in the U.S., and close to 40% of what we produce is never eaten. Remember, composting is lower on the hierarchy of waste reduction practices than feeding people. While composting is important, so is focusing on reducing food waste as much as possible.

  • Do NOT put dog, cat, or human poop in your compost pile. We do not accept it in our compost program, either. It is perfectly fine to flush dog poop if you do not wish to landfill it. However, vets say cat poop should never be flushed (even if the packaging says it's safe to flush), as it may contain Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can infect people and animals. Municipal water treatment systems do not always kill this parasite.

Did you know? We offer compost drop-off in our retail store, and Midtown Composting offers weekly pick-up for both homes and businesses. We also offer composting, recycling, and food rescue service for events, certified compostable foodware and utensils, and composting supplies like kitchen countertop bins and bags. Learn more at

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