Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

To compost at home, you can purchase a pre-made composter or make your own. Beside to locate the bin away from your house. Compost bins and kitchen scrap buckets are available for purchase at City Hall Customer Service or buy online. Pick up items at the Newton Resource Recovery Center with proof of payment.

Your compost pile should have an equal amount of “browns “(dead leaves, branches, and twigs) to “greens” (grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds). You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.

What To Compost

Fruits and vegetables
Crushed eggshells
Coffee grounds and filters
Tea bags
Nut shells
Shredded newspaper
Shredded cardboard
Shredded paper
Yard trimmings
Grass clippings
Hay and straw
Wood chips
Hair and fur
Fireplace ashes

What Not To Compost (and Why)

Black walnut tree leaves or twigs – Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
Coal or charcoal ash – Might contain substances harmful to plants
Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs* – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Diseased or insect-ridden plants – Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
Fats, grease, lard, or oils* – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Meat or fish bones and scraps* – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)* – Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides – Might kill beneficial composting organisms

* Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.


  • The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has resources on home composting and green landscaping practices.
  • This Home Composting Guide may also be useful, especially when getting started.
  • For more information on backyard composting, listen to this webinar featuring Ann McGovern of MassDEP.