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Check out this How-to guide: Composting 101.

Compost: The New Black Gold Powerpoint

Composting occurs naturally everywhere in nature. Leaves drop from trees, plants die and grass left on the lawn breakdown over time. As these organic materials decompose, the dark nutrient rich soil-like material that results is called compost.

By composting yard, garden, and vegetable waste from the home, you can reduce the amount of garbage disposed in landfills. Organic materials such as leaves, grass, and vegetable wastes comprise almost 20 percent of the residential waste stream—that's 330 pounds per person per year.

Composting is easy since there is no wrong way. No matter what you do, things will eventually decay. You can compost practically anything from A to Z: apples and bread, to newspapers and vacuum dust to zucchini. Your compost pile doesn't have to be huge and it won't smell if you layer properly. Don€t try to compost meat, poultry, fish, diseased plants, dairy products, pet waste, cooking oil or invasive weeds because they attract rodents, spread unpleasant odors, or release disease agents and weeds through your garden. Pick a convenient place near your garden. Pile the waste or use wire mesh, snow fencing, wood, bricks or even garbage cans with holes punched in them to enclose the compost pile. Or you can purchase a composting bin like the one below. 

Compost Wizard Jr

The key is layering brown and green materials.


  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Moldy bread
  • Coffee Filters
  • Pond algae


  • Leaves
  • Bark and twigs
  • Wood chips
  • Saw dust
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Shredded newsprint or paper
  • Straw


  • Butter, lard or oils
  • Bones
  • Cat/Dog feces
  • Dairy products
  • Peanut butter
  • Diseased plants or leaves
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressing


  • Mix three parts brown to one part green.
  • Mix with a shovel or pitchfork for faster composting.
  • Shred the materials and make sure that the pile is as moist as a squeezed sponge.
  • Turning the pile every three days will make it compost fastest, but you can turn it weekly, monthly, or not at all, though the more it's turned, the faster materials will break down.

For more help, check out the EPA's Backyard Composting Brochure

Erie County Courthouse - 140 West Sixth Street, Erie, PA 16501 - (814) 451-6000 - TDD Phone: (814) 451-6237 - Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm
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