I cannot be the only one who will continually shove the garbage down despite it's overflowing status in a effort to prolong my trip out to the garbage bin. Yes, I like a clean house and yes, that means that a lot of garbage makes its way into the can, but hauling that over-stuffed bag outside seems like such a a daunting task, and so I continue to shove it down in an attempt to create more space. But there is another way to create more space in the trash can -- and avoid sending too much to the landfill -- just by adding an extra receptacle: a compost bin. Composting is an easy way to reduce your garbage production while improving the condition of your garden's soil, and it's easier than you might think. Just toss kitchen scraps into a bin or compost heap, add the right amount of moisture then stir occasionally. Within a few weeks, you will have a nutrient-rich soil supplement that your garden will love. Of course, it's important to have the right kind of scraps to add to your compost pile, including equal parts of brown (carbon) -- which will help prevent your compost pile from becoming too stinky -- and green (nitrogen) to help speed up the decaying process. Aside from the typical banana peels and coffee grounds, there is an abundance of compostable items in your home that you are probably tossing out, and it's not restricted to food items, either. Here are some other household items that should be making their way to your compost heap, too. 1. Latex Things made out of latex are perfect for your compost pile. This includes balloons, powder free latex gloves and even condoms. That's because natural latex comes from plants, specifically the milky substance found in many flowering plants such as milkweed. 2. Hair The next time you clean out your hairbrush, don't toss that precious collection into the trash can. Instead, add it to your compost bin. Not only does it serve as a slow-release fertilizer for your soil, but can be a great way to increase the soil's drainage and improve it's structural integrity. This includes both human and pet hair. 3. Cleaning Remnants The contents of your vacuum bag, lint trap and even table crumbs are all compostable so keep them out of your garbage can. The same goes for outdated billing statements, pencil shavings, newspapers and fire place ashes. As long as it hasn't been treated with chemicals, it can go in your garden. 4. Clothing If your lint can be composted, so can your clothes. Once you finally come to grips with the fact that your favorite tee shirt will never fit again and the holes in your wool socks and sweatshirts will never be mended, bite the bullet and toss them in. 5. Stale Spirits If you find yourself loaded down with half-filled bottles of beer or wine after your next bar-be-que, don't pour them down the drain. As long as there are no mystery floaties like cigarette butts, they can be poured onto your compost. That's because the yeast that is found in these drinks actually helps the break-down process of your compost bin making it ready to use in a fraction of the time. Just be sure not to add too much liquid without adding sufficient dry ingredients or the pile may become slimy and stinky. Wine corks can be added, as well. 6. Everything Else Okay, not everything, but just about anything you have lying around that has not been treated with chemicals (such as chemically-treated wood or excessively inky paper) can be tossed into the compost heap. This includes toilet paper, cotton balls, toothpicks, stale crackers, old jelly, nail clippings, feathers, pet food…the list goes on. The point is, if it can decompose without filing your compost with toxic chemicals, it should be a part of your compost pile. 7. Worms Though unlikely to be a part of your household, earthworms help the composting process progress much more quickly. This is because worms love to dine on the very items you toss out, and their feces (called castings) makes for incredibly rich compost. When you stumble upon an earthworm, be sure to transplant him into a new home in your compost bin to reap the benefits of your compost all the more quickly (be sure to let a few stay in your garden, though. Their burrows help aerate the soil for healthy root growth). Composting is one of the best ways you can improve your soil and reduce your carbon footprint -- and you can literally compost just about everything but the kitchen sink. So save yourself a trip to the dumpster and instead head out to the garden to create a balanced meal for your plants. Because if you treat your soil well, it will return the favor by producing healthy, abundant vegetation for the whole family. I promise.
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