In an effort to reduce our waste even more, I've been on the hunt for things we weren't composting that we could. In my search, I found some surprising things. As a result, we've begun reducing our waste even further and creating more compost for our spring and summer gardens.
I knew, but hadn't really thought about the fact, that recycling takes a lot of energy. This means that anything we can remove from our recycling bin and reuse or dispose of in another way ends up saving energy. We already do the obvious, like using both sides of the paper and reducing the packaging that we purchase. But recently, we've started composting any paper that we can (newspaper, brown paper, brown cardboard, etc.). To make this decompose faster, we cut it up into small pieces. You can also compost paper towels, paper napkins, tissues, etc. You do want to be careful of papers with certain dyes that aren't organic (newspapers use soy-based inks).
We've begun composting used cotton balls and cotton swabs made with cardboard (not plastic). This cuts down on our bathroom trash some. You can also compost hair trimmings, so when I cut Benny's or little man's hair, I put it in the compost. We also compost the gunk we clean out from the drains when we clean them out, since this is mostly hair. You can also compost pet hair (thank goodness for those of us with dogs with long hair) and the dust, crumbs, etc. from emptying the vacuum cleaner bin. Dryer lint is also compostable.
I recently read that you can compost steel wool, which I use for cleaning in the kitchen. We'll try it with our most recent steel wool pad. It's supposed to add some more iron (duh) to your soil. We're also composting muffin wrappers (white or brown ones without dye are best). Composting natural fibers (wool, cotton, etc.) is also a possibility, so when we cut up a shirt for rags this week, we composted the scraps (cut into small pieces).
We're also beginning to scavenge for our compost bin some by collecting coffee grounds from the coffee bar at church and any organic food scraps from Sunday dinner with Mom. I also collect pencil shavings from school, which adds some nice "brown" to our compost. I'm considering talking with a local brewery to see if we can collect their spent grains, hops, etc. for composting.
If you're looking for ways to reduce your waste stream and have a compost bin, I found this resource really helpful.
I'd love to hear how you're living and saving green this week! Leave a note in the comments for me.