A composting bin

Can I put cardboard toilet paper tubes in my compost bin?


You can put cardboard toilet paper tubes into your composting bin!

Key info
Brown material📂
2-3 months

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

Composting Cardboard Toilet Paper Tubes: A Simple Way to Reduce Waste

Why Cardboard is a Great Addition to Your Compost Pile

We all know that composting is an excellent way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for our gardens. But did you know that cardboard, including toilet paper tubes, can be a valuable addition to your compost pile? Cardboard is considered a "brown" material, which means it is high in carbon and helps to balance out the "green" materials, such as food scraps and grass clippings, that are high in nitrogen. Master the green-brown mix with our comprehensive ebook.

When we add cardboard to our compost pile, it acts as a source of carbon that helps to feed the microorganisms responsible for breaking down the organic matter. As the cardboard decomposes, it releases its carbon, which is essential for creating a healthy and well-balanced compost. Plus, the corrugated nature of cardboard allows for better aeration within the pile, promoting faster decomposition.

How to Prepare Cardboard Toilet Paper Tubes for Composting

Before adding cardboard tubes to your compost, it's important to ensure they are free from any extra packaging, films, tapes, or paint. While ink on the tubes is generally fine, avoid using any cardboard with a glossy coating, as this may contain plastics that won't break down in your compost. Satin-feel finish cardboards, on the other hand, are typically made from powdered clay and are safe to compost.

To prepare your toilet paper rolls for composting, simply tear them into smaller pieces. This will increase their surface area and allow the microorganisms to break them down more quickly. Once torn, you can add the cardboard pieces directly to your composting bin, along with your other organic waste.

Tips for Successfully Composting Cardboard Tubes

Maintain the Right Moisture Level

When adding cardboard to your compost, it's crucial to ensure that the pile has adequate moisture. Cardboard can absorb a lot of water, so you may need to add extra water to your pile to help the cardboard release its carbon and break down effectively. Aim for a moisture level similar to that of a wrung-out sponge – damp but not soaking wet. A moisture meter can help you maintain the perfect balance.

Balance Brown and Green Materials

To create a healthy compost, it's important to maintain a balance between brown and green materials. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a ratio of 3 parts brown (carbon-rich) materials to 1 part green (nitrogen-rich) materials. By adding cardboard tubes to your pile, you'll be contributing to the brown component, helping to create this ideal balance. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a helpful guide on achieving the right carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your compost.

Turn Your Pile Regularly

Turning your compost pile regularly helps to distribute moisture, air, and nutrients throughout the pile, promoting faster decomposition. Aim to turn your pile every 1-2 weeks, using a pitchfork or compost aerator to mix the materials thoroughly.

Other Paper Products You Can Compost

In addition to cardboard toilet paper tubes, there are many other paper products that we can compost to reduce waste and nourish our gardens. Some examples include:

  • Paper towel rolls
  • Egg cartons (paper-based)
  • Newspaper (shredded)
  • Uncoated paper plates
  • Coffee filters

By composting these paper products alongside our food scraps and yard waste, we can create a nutrient-rich soil amendment that will help our plants thrive while reducing our impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I compost cardboard with tape on it?

It's best to remove any tape from cardboard before composting, as the adhesive may contain plastics that won't break down in your compost pile.

How long does it take for cardboard tubes to decompose in a compost pile?

The decomposition time for cardboard tubes can vary depending on factors such as moisture levels, temperature, and the size of the pieces. Generally, it can take anywhere from 2-6 months for cardboard to fully decompose in a well-maintained compost pile.

Can I compost glossy cardboard?

No, glossy cardboard often contains plastic coatings that won't break down in a compost pile. Stick to uncoated, matte cardboard for composting.

Do I need to remove the ink from cardboard before composting?

In most cases, the ink used on cardboard is safe for composting and doesn't need to be removed. However, if you're uncertain about the type of ink used, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid composting heavily printed cardboard.

Can I compost laminated cardboard?

No, laminated cardboard is covered in a plastic layer that won't break down in a compost pile. Only compost unlaminated, uncoated cardboard.

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