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In the rising era of sustainability, you have no doubt heard about the composting craze. Composting or Bokashi are among the best ways to reduce your daily waste, reduce methane emissions and also enrich the quality of soil in your garden.
Cardboard is one of the best additions to your compost pile or garden.
So if you’re someone who has packages coming to your house on the regular, or goes through a lot of groceries, here’s some info on how to successfully compost your cardboard boxes.
Can you compost cardboard?
Whether you’re using your backyard or starting a compost bin, cardboard is a top tier material for composting. It’s a great ‘brown’ item that acts as a source of carbon and balances out with the other nitrogen-rich or ‘green’ materials in your compost. Cardboard is biodegradable, breaks down very quickly and also supports other waste in the decomposition process.
What Kind of Cardboard Can Be Composted?
Most cardboard you come across will be fine for composting. Here are a few types that you may be familiar with:
Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. Flat cardboard is what is found on most grocery items, so this is likely to be a star player in your composting materials.
While standard cardboard consists of a single layer, corrugated cardboard is thicker and more durable. It is made up of three layers – two layers of liner with ruffle-shaped fluting in between.
Cardboard to Avoid Composting
Something to watch out for is any additional materials or chemicals that might accompany the cardboard you’re hoping to compost. Wax-coated cardboard is very common, but is unfortunately difficult to compost as the cardboard is covered in non-biodegradable layers.
Similarly, colored or dyed parts of cardboard also include chemicals that are not ideal for composting. It’s best to avoid adding this to your compost pile as it will prevent healthy decomposition of other materials as well. You CAN however add these to your recycling bin as they are still perfectly recyclable.
How to Compost Cardboard
Before adding cardboard to your compost pile, it’s crucial to prep it and to get it compost-ready.
Let’s Get Shredding
The key to allowing cardboard to break down effectively is taking it from its larger form into smaller pieces. This may sound daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. In fact, you can even make a family activity out of it!
For larger cardboard items such as boxes, you’ll simply want to start tearing or cutting it up into pieces. Continue doing this until you get to the ideal size, which are small strips of material that could easily be spread into the soil. If you have access to a paper shredder, you can even use those once your larger items are split up enough or for items that are already smaller, such as toilet rolls.
Take Off The Extras
You also want to make sure you remove any excess materials from your cardboard such as tape, which is not biodegradable and can create problems in the decomposition process. Now, your cardboard is ready for composting.
It’s All About Placement
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Compost is meant to be a mixture, so all the materials have equal access to the necessary brown items. So make sure to add your cardboard pieces in layers and spread them throughout the mixture.
Reset and Refresh
As the composting process continues, decomposition begins to concentrate into specific areas where the mixture is better. Every few days, give your compost pile a toss to shake things up. This rearranges the nutrients and spreads them out more equally. After all, every material should get equal treatment!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for cardboard to compost?
On average, cardboard takes about two months to break down. That being said, the rate at which the cardboard will decompose depends on the quality of your compost mixture, what materials are added and the size of your cardboard pieces. In ideal conditions, the cardboard may even break down faster. But in a poor mixture which has larger pieces of cardboard and unhealthy chemicals or foods, it can take much longer.
Can you compost in a cardboard box?
Cardboard boxes can not only be broken down to go into your compost, but you can actually do the opposite and use cardboard boxes to host your compost pile. You’ll want to make sure the bottom of your box is sealed well with tape, and then add a thicker layer of cardboard to the bottom for extra security. Then you’re ready to add your compost mixture and start tossing in your waste!
What cardboard items can I compost?
If you just take a look around your home, you’re sure to find an array of options that you probably didn’t even know you could compost. Common ones include egg cartons, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, shoe boxes, and pizza boxes. Ideally, you want to make sure these boxes have little to no additional materials on them, such as tape, ink or leftover food. If these items are in decent condition, all you need to do is shred them to the ideal size and get them into your compost bin.