Composting is an excellent way for humans to return nutrients to the Earth and minimize waste. However, we often hear conflicting advice about what can and can't be added. One such debate is around the composting of eggs.
Composting involves managing a natural decomposition process to turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Now, the general rule of thumb is the inclusion of browns for carbon and greens for nitrogen. Browns include dry leaves, straw, paper, while greens refer to fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. However, the inclusion of certain items, like eggs, isn’t always simple.
Typically, raw eggs don't make an ideal addition to home compost bins or piles. They have a high moisture content and tend to spoil quickly, creating an unpleasant odor. This odor can attract pests such as rodents and flies, turning your compost pile into a banquet for unwanted visitors.
Moreover, raw eggs are often coated with bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, which can be harmful to humans. There is potential for these harmful bacteria to contaminate the finished compost and, subsequently, any plants grown in that compost.
Equally crucial in composting is maintaining a balanced carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio. The microbial organisms that break down compost material require both carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein production. Eggshell, being primarily made up of calcium carbonate, provides carbon, while the egg's protein content accentuates the needed nitrogen. Eggs seem to have a C:N ratio of approximately 15:1.
If you still decide to add eggs to your compost pile, ensure that they are broken up. Intact eggs will take much longer to break down than those that are crushed or scrambled. However, regardless of the state of the egg, it usually takes between two to four weeks for an egg to decompose.
Composting successfully requires knowledge of what can and can't be composted. While the composting of eggs is plausible from a nitrogen and carbon balance perspective, the potential drawbacks, including the attraction of pests and risk of bacterial contamination, suggest it is better to discard raw eggs from becoming part of your compost materials. Please be well-informed and make conscious decisions to foster safe and efficient composting practices. For any ambiguity, always refer to composting guidelines or engage with a composting expert. In our mutual journey towards sustainability, let's compost smartly and responsibly!