Central to this theme is reusing your left over food as compost. Compost is simply decomposed or rotted organic material. Decay is going on around us all the time as nature breaks down items every day. Adhering to a composting process and putting all your organic rubbish in one central place speeds up the decomposition of these materials under controlled conditions. It is also able to provide a focal point for recycling in your home.

The benefits include; saving you money, the reduction of landfills, the creation of a valuable resource for plants, helping to save the bogs of Ireland by using your own peat-free compost in your garden, the creation of homes for fascinating wildlife, providing food for birds and hedgehogs.

Composting is a cheap and hygienic method of converting waste into clean-smelling garden material, but it is important that your bin is correctly constructed and that the decomposing material inside is properly maintained. The ‘Market Report on Irish Compost Production and Use’ suggested a national consented capacity for biological treatment of 412,700 tpa exists (EPA, 2013). A map of compost facility locations for the island of Ireland can be found here.

What should I put in the compost bin?

It is important to know what to, and what not to, put in your compost bin as it can hold lots of different things. Anything organic - that is anything that was once living, whether animal or vegetable falls into one of two categories: ‘Green’ and ‘Brown’. ‘Green’ organic material is wet like grass clippings or fruit and vegetables. ‘Brown’ material is dry, woody material such as fallen leaves and tree-cuttings. The following list of materials can be composted at home. It has been separated into ‘Green’ and ‘Brown’ for simple identification.


  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Fruit and vegetable waste (cooked or uncooked) - roots, cores, etc.
  • Bread, pasta and rice
  • Cut and dead flowers
  • Grass cuttings
  • Weeds (avoid weed seeds)
  • Old plants (not diseased)
  • Seaweed or garden-pond cleanings


  • Egg shells
  • Kitchen paper
  • Newspaper
  • Papers and light cardboard, e.g. cereal or shoe boxes (crumpled)
  • Wood/peat/peat ashes (no coal ashes)
  • Tree prunings and woody material (chopped)
  • Hay and straw
  • Sawdust or wood shavings

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