Can be composted

What goes in Coffee grounds; old cotton, silk, or wool clothing (torn up); eggshells; floor sweepings; hair and nail clippings; paper and cardboard; rabbit or hamster bedding; tea bags; vacuum-cleaner dust; vegetable waste; wood ash.

What stays out Cat or dog litter, coal ash, dairy products, disposable diapers, fish and meat waste, oil or fats.

Most types of paper and cardboard make excellent compost ingredients. Large quantities of flat paper should be avoided, and in any case are more suitable for conventional recycling. However, such materials may be used in moderation if you are short of other types of waste paper—printing inks no longer contain toxic heavy metals.

Better for compost are those types of paper that are harder to recycle, such as used tissues and cereal boxes. Birthdays are bonanza times for the serious composter, with all that wrapping paper. Cardboard with laminated plastic should be avoided: the cardboard will compost okay, but you will have the annoying job of fishing the plastic out of the finished compost.

And if you're alarmed by media stories of identity theft and are worried about what to do with all those old bank statements and credit-card bills, here's the perfect solution—compost them.

What goes in Cardboard packaging, egg cartons, old greeting cards, shredded documents, toilet-paper rolls, used tissues and kitchen towels, waxed paper, wrapping paper.

What stays out Laminated cardboard such as juice and milk cartons, large quantities of newspaper, telephone directories, very shiny magazines.

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