In honor of Earth Day, April 22, I would like to begin my Month of Compost with an introduction to composting for my readers.

Every week I will be posting a photo of the compostable waste that I and my boyfriend have generated within our daily meal routines; this will effectively show you the volume of compostable materials that two people can create within one month. The featured image above is a picture of the compostable materials that we collected between March 29 and April 2.

Which I must say, will be quite surprising to those who have never separated their compostables from their recyclable and miscellaneous wastes.

Just to put things in perspective…

Compostable organics comprises a third of California’s waste stream, and about 6 million tons of that is food waste.


Not only can composting cut the amount of “green” waste within our landfills, it can greatly reduce the amount of “brown” materials in your weekly refuse.

“Green” materials contain high amounts of nitrogen and “brown” materials contain high levels of carbon.

The proper carbon to nitrogen ratio within your compost bin is about 25-30:1 (C:N).  Too much carbon and your compost won’t break down, too much nitrogen and you’ll have a stinky mess on your hands. (

But don’t be alarmed, these levels are easy to adjust.

The following chart explains the carbon and nitrogen ratios within your most common compostable materials.

Estimated Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratios

Browns = High Carbon C:N
Ashes, wood 25:1
Cardboard, shredded 350:1
Corn stalks 75:1
Fruit waste 35:1
Leaves 60:1
Newspaper, shredded 175:1
Peanut shells 35:1
Pine needles 80:1
Sawdust 325:1
Straw 75:1
Wood chips 400:1
Greens = High Nitrogen C:N
Alfalfa 12:1
Clover 23:1
Coffee grounds 20:1
Food waste 20:1
Garden waste 30:1
Grass clippings 20:1
Hay 25:1
Manures 15:1
Seaweed 19:1
Vegetable scraps 25:1
Weeds 30:1


Take this all in and I’ll be sharing more great info with you next week along with another photo.

And finally, at the end of the month I will take you through the stages of a typical compost turning.