Newspaper Recycling: Turn Today’s News into Compost Fuel

Composting is a natural process that turns your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil conditioner, perfect for gardening. This process involves the breakdown of organic materials by microorganisms, which results in the creation of compost. I often get asked, “Can you compost newspaper?” The short answer is yes, you can compost newspaper! But, read on to learn the best practices and what to watch out for.

The beauty of composting is that it’s an environmentally friendly way to recycle organic waste, including paper products. It reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and produces a valuable product that enriches your garden soil. Plus, it’s a practice you can easily adopt at home.

As a homeowner, gardener, or environmentally conscious individual, you have a significant role to play in composting. You can start a compost pile in your backyard, using green waste like vegetable peels, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and brown waste such as leaves, branches, and yes, even newspapers.

Your contribution to composting doesn’t just benefit your garden; it also plays a part in reducing landfill waste, lowering methane emissions, and conserving natural resources. So, every time you add to your compost pile, remember that you’re making a positive impact on the environment.

Unlock the Secrets of Composting Newspapers: a Definitive Guide from News to Nutrients

Can You Compost Newspaper?

Can You Compost Newspaper?

Your Concerns

You may have heard or read mixed information about whether or not you can compost newspapers. Common concerns often revolve around the inks used in printing and the type of paper.

You might worry that harmful chemicals from the ink could leach into your compost, or that glossy paper or colored pages won’t break down as well. These are valid concerns, and it’s essential to address them before you start adding newspaper to your compost pile.

The Facts about Composting Newspaper

Let’s set the record straight: yes, you can compost newspapers. Most newspapers today are printed with soy-based inks, which are non-toxic and safe for composting. As for the paper itself, since it’s essentially just wood pulp, it’s a great source of carbon, which helps balance the nitrogen-rich green materials in your compost pile or worm bin.

However, it’s best to avoid glossy magazines or colored pages as they often contain heavy metals or other potentially harmful substances. Stick to the black-and-white pages, and you’ll be fine.

Additionally, the rate at which newspaper decomposes in your compost pile depends on several factors like the size of the paper pieces, the moisture level in your compost pile, and the overall composition of your compost. Shredding the newspaper into smaller pieces will expedite the decomposition process.

So, if you’ve been wondering whether those old newspapers piling up in your garage can be put to good use, the answer is a resounding yes. Not only is newspaper composting safe, but it also provides numerous benefits for your compost pile and, by extension, your garden. Of course, putting them in the recycling bin is also an environmentally friendly way to dispose of them.

The Benefits of Composting Newspaper

Your Gain from Newspaper Composting

When you add newspaper to your compost pile, you’re contributing to a balanced and healthy compost. Newspapers are a brown material, meaning they provide the necessary carbon to balance the nitrogen-rich green materials like food waste, kitchen scraps and grass clippings in your compost pile.

This balance is crucial for effective composting as it ensures a favorable environment for the microorganisms that break down the organic matter.

Moreover, even small amounts of shredded newspaper can help maintain the right moisture levels in your compost pile. It absorbs excess moisture from green materials, preventing your compost from becoming too soggy, which could slow down the composting process and cause unpleasant odors.

Lastly, using newspapers in composting is an excellent way to recycle them. Instead of sending them off to a recycling center or worse, the landfill, you can convert them into a valuable resource right at home.

The Environmental Impact

Your decision to compost newspapers also has broader environmental benefits. First, you’re reducing the amount of waste that goes to the landfill. Landfills are major sources of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. By composting your newspapers, you’re helping to reduce methane emissions.

How to Compost Newspaper Correctly

Your Guide to Shredding Newspapers

Before you add newspaper to your compost pile, it’s essential to prepare it correctly. Large pieces of newspaper can form a mat and create a barrier that prevents water and air from reaching the rest of your compost pile, slowing down the composting process.

To avoid this, shred your newspapers into small pieces, about one-inch-wide strips. You can use a paper shredder or simply tear the newspaper by hand. Shredding not only prevents matting but also increases the surface area of the newspaper, making it easier for microorganisms to break it down.

Steps to Adding Newspaper to Your Compost

Once your newspapers are shredded, you’re ready to add them to your compost pile. Here are the steps to follow:

Balance the Green and Brown Materials

For effective composting, you need a good balance of green material (like vegetable scraps and grass clippings) and brown materials (like leaves, branches, and newspapers). A general rule of thumb is to aim for a ratio of 3:1 browns to greens by volume.

Layer the Natural Materials

Start with a layer of browns at the bottom of your compost bin. Then add a layer of greens. Continue alternating compost ingredients between layers of brown and green materials. Add your shredded paper as part of the brown layer.

Turn Your Compost Regularly

For best results and to speed up the composting process and ensure all materials decompose evenly, turn your compost pile every few weeks. This mixes the materials and allows air to reach all parts of the compost.

Maintain Moisture Levels

Your compost should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water. If it’s too wet, add more browns like shredded newspaper to absorb the excess moisture. It’s a good idea to check the moisture level every 2-3 days.

Potential Issues with Newspaper Composting

Your Awareness of Possible Complications

While composting newspaper is generally straightforward, you may encounter a few challenges along the way. Being aware of these potential issues can help you address them promptly and keep your composting efforts on track.

One common issue is that whole newspapers, especially when not shredded properly, can form layers that become compacted and impede airflow within the compost pile. This can slow down the decomposition process and lead to an unpleasant smell.

Another concern is the ink used in newspapers. While most modern newspapers use soy-based inks, which are safe for composting, some still use petroleum-based newspaper inks. These may contain heavy metals or other harmful substances, so it’s worth checking with your local newspaper publisher if you’re unsure about their ink.

Your Solutions to These Issues

If you notice that your newspapers are forming compacted layers in your backyard compost heap, be sure to turn your compost more frequently. This will help break up the layers and improve airflow. A simple solution is to shred your whole newspapers into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost pile can also help prevent this issue.

As for concerns about ink, the safest approach is to use newspapers that you know are printed with soy-based black ink. If you’re unsure, contact your local newspaper publisher to find out what kind of ink they use. Avoid using glossy or colored pages in your compost as these are more likely to contain potentially harmful substances.


So, is composting newspaper safe? The answer is a resounding yes. Not only is newspaper composting safe, but it also provides numerous benefits for your compost pile and, by extension, your garden.

By following the tips outlined above and getting familiar with the potential issues you may encounter along the way, you can ensure that your compost pile remains healthy and productive.

And if you recycle your newspapers through composting, you’re also playing a part in protecting the environment. It’s a win-win!

Moreover, compost made with newspaper is an excellent soil amendment thanks to its high carbon content and ability to absorb moisture.

Adding newspaper to your compost will help create a rich and nutrient-dense soil that can nourish your plants and make them thrive. So get shredding and start composting with newspaper today!

You can also add other forms of paper to your compost, such as paper towels, cardboard boxes, and even plain white paper.

However, it’s best to avoid glossy or colored papers as these may contain chemicals that can be harmful for your garden. When in doubt, it’s always best to contact your local newspaper publisher and ask about the type of ink they use.

With this knowledge in hand, you can make informed decisions about what types of paper to add to your compost pile. Happy composting! Did you know you can compost brown paper bags too!

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