I'm about to start composting and I wonder if it is ok to compost paper
such as newspape and cardboard? If you make your own composter, do you
need to raise it off the ground for air circulation?
Also, any pointers to good composting web sites would be appreciated.
I have had bad experience with newspaper. After taking great care and effort
to use only B&W newsprint ( to avoid heavy metals and dioxens) I lined my
compost bin with od papers. I also used them as a weedblock mat under my
garden paths. They traped water in my bin and probably restricted airflow.
Shreded paper would have been better. They, and sheet cardboard, attracted
termites to my bin and paths. I do not recommend their use.
Ed (in Florida)
You don't absolutely NEED to, but there are a few good reasons to do it. In
addition to improved air circulation(which improves the composting process), you
could have improved access to the compost, to load it into wheelbarrows,
if the newspapers you are planning thinking of using use 100% soy ink, then
it's ok...but NO colour ads or pages.
cardboard? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!! cardboard consists of several layers of
paper GLUED together. that glue would be very detrimental to your compost
and would even kill any worms living within the pile.
cardboard is best used as a mulch on a flat, well raked bed. it
tiypically disappears within a few months, leaving you with a little
weeding to be done in august or so. both slugs and worms eat it. the
only caveat is that slugs love to lurk under the cardboard, and could
get your seedlings, specially if they are cabbage.
Paper, inkless or carefully chosen printed paper, can be composted but it
should be shredded, and the smaller the shreds the better. It needs to be mixed
into regular organic matter in small amounts. You have to look out for
bleached, coated, and other types of paper that will add undesirable chemicals
into your soil. Cardboard and fiberboard are not a good idea, because they do
contain binders, and also because they are often made from recycled paper, and
thus contain even more concentrationed contamination. Shreded paper decays in a
way similar to hardwood, much slower than things like soft food waste because
of the amount of fibers it contains.
A better environmental idea is to allow paper to be recycled appropriately.
In matters of truth and justice,
there is no difference between large and small problems,
for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.
- Albert Einstein
You're getting a lot of inconsistent advice. That's typical of responses
from a newsgroup. Here's my opinions.
1. Paper: You don't say if you mean newspaper, or any paper. Newspaper
does not compost very well. That's because it has a high lignin content.
For the same reason, it is good to put under mulch to help prevent weeds.
"Office" paper composts very well.
2. Cardboard: It composts very well. Better than office paper, in fact.
Someone also suggested using it as mulch. I also do that. I put cardboard
down in the Fall, and then put about 3 inches of shredded leaves on top. By
the Spring, everything has broken down pretty well.
Several folks said that cardboard contains lots of toxic stuff. I'm not
aware of that. None of the scientific composting sites that I rely upon say
3. On/off ground. Getting air into compost is important, but that's
usually done by turning it. (Turning also mixes it, which is very
important). Other than tumblers, I've never seen compost off the ground,
and don't know how that would work. I've seen it on pallets, but the space
below the pallets fill with compost, so that's really on the ground.
One other thing: The smaller the pieces in your compost, the better it
works. I recommend shredding leaves. Paper should be shredded or otherwise
cut into small pieces.
USDA Zone 7
Hi compostman, Thanks for the advice. I did meat office paper when I
refered to paper. In fact the place where I work often shreds 6 or 7
large garbage bags of it every couple of months or so. So that is the
stuff I would be looking at.
leave a bucket in the coffee room for spent coffee grounds, and when
you take home those 6 or 7 garbage bags, take home the bucket also.
The mixture will compost well. If you have no coffee, a 2:1
paper/fresh grass clippings will do also, though of course the grass
clippings are available only a few times a year and are usable only if
they are pesticide-free.
This is very good advice. Coffee grounds are "green" and will aid in the
composting of the shredded paper. Don't worry too much about the
carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Compost happens, sometimes faster than others. I
keep my compost a little on the dry side, but that's a personal preference.
I start each pile with a lot of ground up leaves and coffee grounds and then
add a lot of vegetable waste. Because vegetable waste and grass (which I
don't have) are very wet, I want to avoid my piles getting too wet.
USDA Zone 7
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