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Composting 101: Compost Toilet Paper Rolls – Yay or Nay?

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Composting isn’t just for kitchen scraps!

There are tons of household items that can be safely added to your compost pile. You just need to know where to look!

One such item you might not think to compost is the humble toilet paper roll.

Composting toilet paper rolls is a great alternative to recycling. In fact, it is often better as far as reducing carbon footprint goes.

roll of tissues and toilet paper rolls on white towel
Toilet paper rolls are a great source of carbon-rich material for your compost

For most families, using toilet paper is very much unavoidable. But you can take a load off your local garbage and recycling center by composting your old toilet paper rolls in the backyard or in a Bokashi bin.

Can You Compost Toilet Paper Rolls?

Yes!

While you might think that fresh plant matter is the only thing that can go in your compost, it’s important to remember that cardboard is also made of plants.

Toilet paper rolls can be composted whole. For the best results, though, you can rip apart the cardboard into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.

Of course, toilet paper rolls are just one source of cardboard waste! You can also compost similar materials like paper towel rolls, old cardboard boxes, wrapping paper tubes, and more.

Keep in mind that, while all cardboard will decompose, some products are lined with non-degradable materials that will not break down in your compost.

It’s best to avoid these types of cardboard. Even better is to choose a toilet paper brand that is plastic-free and ink/dye-free, such as Reel Toilet Paper.

Is Cardboard “Green” or “Brown” Material?

Cardboard is considered a brown material in composting. Other common brown materials include dead leaves, sawdust, and newspaper.

These brown materials are essential to healthy compost. They offer a steady source of carbon to your compost’s ecosystem. They also encourage airflow and absorb excess moisture.

You can’t make compost with brown materials alone, though. Be sure to balance out your composted toilet paper rolls with green items like fresh grass clippings, spoiled vegetables, and other nitrogen-rich materials.

When Shouldn’t You Compost Toilet Paper Rolls?

empty toilet paper roll
There are occasions when you should avoid composting toilet paper

Cardboard is a great addition to your compost pile. But if you’re looking to dispose of toilet paper rolls (or another type of household cardboard), it’s important to keep them away from non-compostable items.

Avoid composting toilet paper rolls that have come into contact with biological waste or harsh chemicals (like bathroom cleaners, perfumes, etc.). 

It’s best to keep your old toilet paper rolls separate from your regular bathroom garbage can where they can be exposed to various contaminants!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to recycle or compost toilet paper rolls?

Believe it or not, composting toilet paper rolls and other cardboard items is almost always better than recycling! This is because recycling, while better than shipping waste off to a landfill, still consumes labor and resources.

By composting as many items at home as possible, including cardboard, you can reintroduce them to the natural environment without the heavy processing of recycling.

Can you compost wet cardboard?

Yes! The cardboard will get wet in your compost pile anyway. There’s nothing wrong with composting wet cardboard! (Though you should avoid composting cardboard that has sopped up oil or grease.)

Can wax-coated cardboard be composted?

Yes. But it can be harder to break down than traditional corrugated or flat cardboard. As with any cardboard, shredding wax-coated cardboard into small pieces will speed up the process. 

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