From apple cores to zucchini skins: 12 things you can safely add to any compost pile

Illustration of things to compost, including an eggshell, banana peel, apple core and tea bag.
(Kelly Malka / For The Times)

What kinds of things can be sent to that compost pile you’re excited to start? To get the ball rolling, here are a dozen things that you can either safely divert from the landfill into your backyard composting efforts or send off to a communal pile elsewhere.

From the kitchen

  • Fruit scraps (think apple cores, orange and banana peels, melon rinds and strawberry tops)
  • Vegetable trimmings (such as avocado skins, pepper cores and stems, Brussels sprouts trimmings and eggplant peels)
  • Tea bags (no nylon bags)
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Eggshells (but just the shells)

A new law requires Californians to recycle food scraps and leftovers. What is composting? What can you — and can’t you — compost? We’re here to help.

March 21, 2022

From the yard and garden

  • Leaves and pine needles (but mixed with other ingredients to avoid matting)
  • Old potting soil
  • Grass clippings (mixed with other ingredients so they don’t turn into a slimy compacted mat. Also note that grass clippings are a great natural fertilizer if left on the lawn.)
  • Shredded newspaper, paper and cardboard (except for slick or glossy papers)
  • Wood chips, sawdust and ash (from untreated wood only, such as cut trees)
  • Houseplants, flowers and outside plant trimmings chipped or cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • Aged (left in the sun for about three weeks) manure and bedding from cows, horses, goats and chickens. Always inquire about the food and medication the animals receive before you use their manure, to keep things like steroids and antibiotics out of your compost. Rabbit manure has lower nitrogen but can also be used.

Get composting

A guide to everything you need to know about getting rid of those table scraps.