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Source for Browns in My Compost


January 1, 2019

I'm interested in composting in the backyard to reduce the amount of food trash in the landfill. I am not able to attend the upcoming composting class next week unfortunately. I am looking into getting a tumble style composter but I'm concerned about not having enough "brown" materials. I live on base where landscaping is done by a company so I have limited brown yard waste to add. I could add cardboard but I'm not sure how to easily achieve a finely shredded consistency. What are some good alternative brown materials that could be used?


Answer by RR: Thanks for your question.  Others of our group may also answer your question.

If you have a paper shredder, that would probably be your best bet.  I work on base, and virtually every office or work section also has a paper shredder if you don’t have one. So you or your spouse likely have ready access to shredded paper. Some people worry about whether or not certain types of paper can be composted….don’t worry.  If it decomposes, great; if it doesn’t, you can just pick out the leftover pieces.  Newspaper will work even better as a brown.  You should rip it into strips before throwing it into your compost…just make sure you don’t put too much of it together because newspaper tends to clump into a ball when it gets wet.  Other household paper products, like paper towels, tissues, paper plates (shredded), can also be used. Good luck, and thank you for caring enough to try to avoid sending compostable materials to the landfill.

I hope you get a chance to take one of our free composting classes soon.  We hold them throughout the year in many different places.

Answer by WR: RR gave you excellent advice.  I want to be sure you know about these documents on our website.  They might be helpful if you aren't able to do a class:

Composting in Tumbler Bins

Composting in the Desert (the brochure gives a good list of browns)

Feedstock sources

Good luck and feel free to keep asking questions.

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