The holidays are here — can you believe it?! And with the holidays come more time in the kitchen whipping up those special Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes.

But not all holiday food scraps are a merry addition to the compost pile. Below is a list of what is “naughty” and what is “nice” for your compost piles.

NAUGHTY: Citrus Peels

NICE: Non-Citrus Produce

Adding dried orange slices to your holiday decor this year? Avoid adding citrus peels to your compost pile — these peels actually take an extremely long time to break down. Additionally, the high acidity in the peels can kill the worms you need to help break down the organic matter in your compost.

Other produce can be composted, just make sure you remove the labels from the skins before adding to the pile.


NICE: Tea Leaves

A hot cup of tea on a cozy winter’s nice is the stuff our holiday dreams are made of. And while tea leaves are a “yes” for compost, tea bags are a major no. Remove the leaves or grounds from these bags or filters before adding to your compost.

NAUGHTY: Any holiday recipe with dairy, high fat, or excessive sugar

NICE: Eggshells that have been washed

Holiday treats may be nice to our palettes, but they’re a naughty addition to our compost piles. So many of our recipes throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of dairy, high fat, and excessive sugar — all big no-nos for the compost pile.

Baking Christmas cookies? Wash those egg shells and add to the compost pile!

NAUGHTY: Wrapping Paper

NICE: Paper products

Paper products are fair game for the compost pile, right? While products like paper towels, tissues, or newspaper can be good additions, waxy paper like gift wrapping paper are a no, as these won’t decompose properly.

NAUGHTY: Ash from coal fires

NICE: Ash from wood fires

Ash from charcoal fires is highly-acidic, which your plants won’t appreciate. In fact, this can really harm them. While you should pass on the coal fire ash, you can add ash from wood fires to your compost in small amounts. Wood ash is a source of lime, potassium, and other nutrients that plants adore. Of course, not all woods are the same. Hardwoods have a higher nutrient content while softwoods have a lower amount. Be sure you are only using ash from untreated wood.

NAUGHTY: Fish or Meat

Leave the holiday roast out of the compost pile. The smell of rotting meat isn’t something you want lingering in your vicinity; you also risk turning your compost pile into a buffet for vermin.

Looking for more guidance for your compost pile?

Our Gardening Without Pesticides e-book offers a list of recommended items for your compost