13 Ecology Ablazingly

Compost, Recycle, or Trash?

Woman recycling organic kitchen waste by composting in green container during preparation of meal

We try to live a green lifestyle and with six (soon to be seven) people in our house, it takes the work of everyone to make it happen. We practice the three R’s- reduce, reuse, recycle- and we learned to compost. So the one question that comes up often, especially with the kids, is what to do with things that need to be disposed of. We created a chart to use as a system to help everyone in the house know what can be composted, what needs to be recycled and what has to go to trash, which is our last option for stuff.


Composting is basically nature’s way of recycling the things it can itself. Organic materials can be composted so this includes leaves, twigs, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable trimmings and rinds and other organic materials. In a typical day, my family comes across many things that can go to compost. For example, we do the lawn care early in the morning due to extreme heat. We can save on city trash collections by using compost for our trimmings and clippings instead of placing it on the curb.

We also eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in my household and my children are on special diets. We can compost something from literally every meal and snack we have in our house. It also reduces the amount of waste we add to our trash which saves us money on collections and also saves the landfills.


When it cannot be composted, we look to reuse or recycle it. If we have no use for an item in our house anymore, we look to see if someone else can use it before we do anything with it. If we cannot give it away or if it is trash like plastic bottles or glass containers, then we will recycle them.

At breakfast, we might be able to recycle the cardboard cereal box when it is emptied. During the day, we pull out old papers and mail from the office and place in a paper recycling bin. For dinner, many boxes and packages that food comes in can be recycled as well.


Finally, there are some things that just cannot be composted (non-organic) or recycled (non-recyclables) so for these things, we reuse or give away if possible but if it’s something that is definitely garbage, then it has to go in the trash. While we try to reduce the trash in our home, in a typical day, some trash might include light bulbs, paper towels, pizza boxes, sticky notes (I use these a lot) and wet paper.

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