Composting tips for Compostable Goods products
We recommend composting our items since in most circumstances biodegradable items do not fully break down (or take a very long time) in a landfill and the breakdown materials cannot practically be used to support soil health and plant life because of contamination from non-compostable items. Furthermore, composition under landfill conditions produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is more harmful to the climate as compared with the carbon dioxide released during composting. We see composting as one of many solutions needed to address climate change, pollution, human health, and land-use policies.
Certified Compostable Products
Certified compostable products are certified for municipal or commercial composting facilities. These facilities have large piles or windrows that generate heat, which is often lacking in a home compost. While some certified compostable products require heat and humidity to break down, other products will break down in a home compost system but typically at a slower rate. You might have to send it through the pile a few times like you would a corn cob. Or, you also might be able to find a second life for the product (e.g., the knives make good row markers in the garden) before throwing it in the compost heap. If you have a large pile because you have barn bedding or large quantities of yard waste, you will generate more heat. Try putting these products in the middle of a hot pile.
Naturally Biodegradable Products
We offer products made from wood, wool, hemp, and cotton, among other things. These products typically take longer to break down than your food-scrap compostables. You can speed up this process by cutting the products into smaller pieces to increase the surface area and/or by putting them in the middle of a large hot pile.
Wool can be used as a garden mulch or winter mulch for tender perennials. The contact with moist soil will start the decomposition process and release nitrogen for plants.
Solid wood products need to be converted to wood chips or sawdust before the composting process can begin. These materials can also be used as mulch. Keep in mind, though, that wood is high in carbon and low in nitrogen which may upset your carbon to nitrogen ratio in your pile or lead to nitrogen deficiency in plants if used as a mulch (particularly in soils with low fertility). One solution is to add materials high in nitrogen such as alfalfa meal or manure to balance it out. If this sounds like too much work you can leave your solid wood product out in your woods and let decomposition take place over many years just as it does with logs.
Soap can be used as a surfactant to keep leaves moist and hasten the decomposition process. Dissolve your leftover soap remains (you know, the ones too small to hang on to) in a gallon or so of water and use it to wet the leaves as you build your pile. If you aren't building a pile, just mold your soap remains into your new bar of soap for less waste and more soap.
We offer biodegradable bags for the collection of pet waste, specifically dogs and cats. Most composting resources suggest leaving pet waste out of compost piles. Cat feces may contain toxoplasmosis eggs which can have devastating affects for pregnant women (actually her fetus) and immunocompromised persons. Kittens and outdoor mousers are more likely to be infected with toxoplasmosis, which thrives in hot, humid conditions at low altitudes. The irony is that cats using an indoor box are at lower risk for toxoplasmosis than outdoor cats who are already using the great outdoors as a big huge litter box. Cat feces can be flushed down the toilet if you use a biodegradable cat litter made for flushing, but this is not recommended in areas where it may affect the Sea Otter population. Many recommend sending pet waste to the landfill, but another option for the remains of the cat litter box and dog waste might be burial or use of a pet-sized septic such as the Doggie Dooley. You'll find a home-made version and more ideas at City Farmer.
Other biodegradable products (that we don't sell)
Listed below are some compostable and biodegradable products that we don't sell, mostly because they are widely available or easily ordered through the manufacturer. Please Contact Us to let us know of additional products you think should be listed here.
There are several biodegradable cat litters on the market. A few examples are Swheat Scoop made from wheat; World's Best Cat Litter made from corn; and Nature's Earth made from pine. You can use unused litter as mulch or to add a bit of carbon to a nitrogen-heavy compost pile. SweetsScoop offers a biodegradable littler box.
Wood Care Products
'Wood and More' from Crow Ridge Natural Wood Care Products is a biodegradable wood care product made from food-grade ingredients from soy beans, bees, oranges, and palm trees. Developed by an antique dealer, 'Wood and More' nourishes and protects wood and retards rust. Since there are no fumes, it can safely be applied indoors. It is a truly pleasant wood care experience!
Compostable stuff you already have that nobody sells
Hair (human and pet)
Websites we like
BioCycle with support from the Biodegradable Products Institute and have teamed up to offer findacomposter.com. There is a searchable database of composting facilities in the United States where you can process organics or obtain compost and compost products.
Compost Guide contains a wealth of easy-to-read information on the composting process, materials, bins and tools, site selection, and troubleshooting. There is an on-line store for bins, tools and fertilizers.
Learn how to make compost at Composting Instructions, and find out why improving your soil is the best thing that you can do for your lawn and garden.
Composting101.com offers general information on composting including composting with worms. Click on "Articles" at the top of the page for various how-to guides.
How to Compost.org is a site full of articles and links on composting for beginners and experts alike.
Come Composting offers information on building and managing a home compost pile, including options for bins and tools.
The EPA website on composting offers basics information on composting, but also contains information about regional and state composting programs and regulations.
Earth911 has a great recycling / re-use search engine. Type in the item you want to recycle (e.g., paint, batteries, etc) and your zip code and it gives you a list of locations in your area where you can drop it off. There's also a section on composting.
Composting and Climate Change
Cool 2012 stands for Compostable Organics Out of Landfills by 2012. It outlines the problem of landfilling on climate change and a solution for getting "cool".
Stop Trashing the Climate provides evidence that zero waste approach (preventing waste, recycling and composting) is one of the most effective strategies to address climate change.
General information on Cradle to Cradle Design, a principle upon which Compostable Goods is based, can be found at
MBDC and the Wikipedia Cradle to Cradle page.
Cradle to Cradle Chronology is a chronological listing of cradle to cradle articles, publications, interviews, events, and milestones. There is also a blog, although it isn't all in English.
The Story of Stuff is an entertaining and information-filled 20-minute video on the linear life of the stuff that surrounds us. It walks the viewer through resource extraction, manufacturing, sales, use and disposal of stuff. Fun graphics, environmental and social messages, and even a history lesson will keep your attention. Grab your computer, sit back, and enjoy. You might find a new admiration for your compost pile.
Corn Plastic to the Rescue is a Smithsonian article on the pros and cons of bioplastics.
The Green Plastics Knowledge Center provides introduction information about the science of "green plastics".
Basic information on bioplastics can be found at
Bioplastics24.com. See additional pages listed on the left under Information.
The Biodegradable Products Institute has a short documentary on the development of their certification process.
The Hemp Industries Association offers some facts on hemp including a list of hemp production activities by country.
Comprehensive information on hemp and hemp production can be found in the Industrial Hemp chapter in How Products are Made.
The differences between conventional and organic cotton are outlined at AboutOrganicCotton.org.
Most of our organic cotton textile manufacturers adhere to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Cradle to Cradle - Remaking the Way We Make Things by William MDonough and Michael Braungart
was, in part, the inspiration behind Compostable Goods. The authors introduce the concept of "Waste=Food" into product design so that at the end of a product's life it will provide nourishment for something new. Sound familiar, composters? The authors suggest that products be conceived as "biological nutrients" that will break down without depositing synthetic materials and toxins in the environment, or they can be "technical nutrients" that circulate as pure and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial systems. Compostable Goods is all about and full of "biological nutrients".
The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener from Rodale Pres, Inc. This is a great reference book covering the history and benefits of composting, life in the pile, methods, structures and equipment, and using compost. We find the chapter listing common and not-so-common materials that can be used in composting to be a great resource. Included is information on composting hair, leather dust, wood, and many other items you might not have every considered for you pile.
Connecticut has two museums dedicated to waste. The Garbage Museum in Stratford has a Trash-o-saurus made from one ton of garbage (the amount that one person generates each year) and a giant walk-through compost pile (does it get better than that???). The Trash Museum in Hartford educates on the history of trash management which includes viewing their state-of-the-art single-stream recycling equipment.
WALL-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class. He is a likable robot who has been left to clean up the remains of humans on earth by compacting trash into cubes. His collection of remnants that have survived the 700 years since humans abandoned earth include plastic cutlery, a Rubik's cube, shopping carts, and cassette tapes, making his home like a museum of all things not biodegradable. The visuals on their own tell the story of our waste problems and unsustainable lifestyle. The best part, though, is the recognition that our existence depends entirely on plants. Although there was more action than necessary to get the point across (enough that might scare young kids), I highly recommend this as a good family movie. The only complaint I have is the WALL-E watches they gave my kids when we bought the tickets, which are sure to eventually find a spot in the landfill probably for at least the next 700 years. A compostable freebie would have been more fitting.