Can You Compost Newspapers? (Methods, Tips, & Other Uses)

]While reading this, you might be feeling cautious about mother nature and willing to take up composting seriously, isn’t it? If so, we want you to start by considering the most common thing available at home, which keeps you updated on everything going on in the world. Yes! We’re talking about the newspaper. So can you compost newspapers? Let’s find out.

Yes, newspapers can be composted as they add carbon and structure to the soil. But as they contain lignin, they break down slowly. Shred newspapers into small strips to speed up the decomposition. And avoid composting glossy newspaper with colored inks as it might contain toxic chemicals. 

How to Compost Newspapers

Most newspapers these days are made of soy-based inks and are safe to compost. Moreover, the newspaper adds carbon to the compost and soaks the excess moisture. So you must definitely consider composting newspapers.

But how can you compost newspapers? Here are different methods you can follow for composting newspapers:

  • Composting Newspaper Through the Hot Composting Method
  • Composting Newspaper Through Vermicomposting

Hot Composting Method

The hot composting method gives the right environment for the newspaper to decompose quickly, so it is a useful method to compost newspaper or any other type of paper product and cardboard. However, this method requires balancing different elements like brown material, green material, air, and water in your compost bin.

Composting Shredded Newspaper With Food Waste

Follow the below steps to get rich quality compost from shredded newspaper through hot composting:

Step 1. Set Up the Compost Bin

Use a plastic bucket or buy a compost bin from the gardening store for composting. Ensure the compost bin has holes for aeration and drainage; if not, poke holes in the bottom. Alternatively, you can make a heap using composting materials in the sunny corner of your garden.

Step 2. Shred the Newspaper

Shred the newspapers into 1-2 inch strips using a shredder or scissors. This will prevent the blockage of oxygen in your compost pile.

Step 3. Add Newspaper Strips to the Bin

Make the first layer of compost by adding shredded newspaper to the bottom of the compost bin. You can also add other brown materials like yard waste, dry leaves, wood ash, or sawdust along with a paper towel, tissue paper, and corrugated cardboard to make the compost rich in carbon and nutrients.

Step 4. Add Food Scraps

Now make a layer with green materials by adding kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea bags.

Remember to cut the peels finely before adding them to your compost heap. You can also add fresh grass clippings to enhance the Nitrogen content in your compost pile.

Step 5. Repeat the Layers

You need to fill your bin with alternate layers of brown and green materials. Once you have used all the composting materials, seal them with a firm layer of soil on the top.

Step 6. Maintain Your Compost Pile

To ensure that the composting process runs smoothly, you must maintain your pile by checking the moisture level and mixing your compost heap with a pitchfork.

Once you make sure to follow all these steps, your finished compost will be ready within two months.

Vermicomposting Method

Because red wigglers love to eat and seek shelter in shredded paper, composting newspapers in worm bins is yet another excellent method.

Newspapers act as the bedding for vermicompost and provide an excellent physical structure to the compost. In addition, they help to absorb water from the food waste quite well.

Composting Newspapers Via Vermicomposting

Here are the quick steps to compost newspapers via vermicomposting.

Step 1. Set Up Your Worm Bin

Pick a plastic container and drill holes to use it as a worm bin, or you can get one from the store. Now cover this bin with a wire mesh and place it under the sink or in a shady corner of your garden.

Step 2. Shred the Newspaper

Collect the old newspaper and cut them into small strips using a paper shredder or scissor.

Remove the posters or any glossy paper from between the newspapers to keep your compost from becoming toxic.

Step 3. Make the Bedding

Fill two-thirds of your worm bin with newspaper, beginning at the bottom. It should be fluffy so that the worms can move freely. Now spray water to damp them and add soil on the top of the shredded newspaper.

Step 4. Add the Food Waste

Collect kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels like potato peels, avocado pits, watermelon rinds, cherry pits, and used pumpkins and chop them into small pieces before tossing them in the wormery. Leave them to decompose for up to 2 weeks as the worms feed on food that is already broken down.

Step 5. Add Worms

Add a handful of red wigglers to your worm bin. They will start feeding on the freshly decomposed food and take shelter in the newspaper while eating the shredded paper.

Step 6. Maintain Your Worm Bin

Because worms cannot thrive in a dry environment, you must keep the worm bin moist and oxygenated. Cover your worm bin with damp gunny bags or corrugated cardboard, and replenish food waste as needed.

As the worms digest and excrete the castings, vermicompost will be ready to harvest in 2 months. You can use this humus for fertilizing your garden soil and house plants.

Benefits of Composting Newspaper

A newspaper, like any other paper material, is compostable, but the lignin content in the paper makes the decomposition process sluggish. So you might be in a dilemma on whether to compost newspaper or not.

Well, let us look at the benefits it offers to convince you about composting newspapers.

  • Newspaper is an excellent source of carbon and keeps your compost pile healthy.
  • It helps retain soil moisture and adds volume to the soil.
  • The shredded newspaper helps prevent the compost from being compacted.
  • It improves the structure of the finished compost.
  • Newspaper is biodegradable and eco-friendly; hence composting is a great way to reduce the waste in landfills.
  • It is a cheap source of compost and is readily available.

Additional Tips for Composting Newspaper

Newspaper, as well as other paper materials like toilet paper, tissue paper, junk mail, paper towel, and corrugated cardboard, are compostable. But the concern here is they take time to compost if not done in the right way.

Here are a few useful tips you need to follow to compost newspaper effectively:

  • Shred the newspaper before tossing them into the compost pile. If staked in the compost pile, the newspaper will not receive enough oxygen, and your pile will turn moldy.
  • Avoid using glossy, colored, and synthetic papers as they might have heavy metals and are hazardous to the microbes in your compost. This includes magazines, posters, coupons, labels, pamphlets, etc.
  • Avoid tossing too many newspapers as they may take too much time to decompose and block the oxygen. If you have excess newspapers, send them for recycling. This is again an eco-friendly method of dealing with waste. 
  • Mix newspapers with other brown materials like brown leaves, wood ash, and yard waste to give a nice structure to the compost.
  • Add green materials to balance the compost.
  • Turn the compost pile regularly to circulate oxygen in the compost pile.

Other Uses of Newspapers in the Garden

After knowing about composting newspapers, if you are worried about not having a compost bin at your home, here is some good news for you. You can use newspapers in other ways too. Listed below are a few uses of newspapers in the garden.

Seed Started Made of Newspaper

1. Newspaper as a Seed Starter: You can use newspapers to make small pots that can be used as seed starters. You can either twist them into small containers using a wooden mold or make containers with paper pulp.

To make the containers from paper pulp, follow these steps.

  • Cut newspapers into one-inch strips and soak them in water (the ratio of paper and water should be 1:2).
  • After 24 hours, remove the soaked paper pulp and beat them evenly.
  • Now take small portions of paper pulp and squeeze water from it.
  • Press the squeezed pulp inside a plastic cup to give shape to your container.
  • Dry them for three days, and then remove the containers from the cup. Fill it with potting soil, and place your seeds carefully.

2. Lasagna or Sheet Mulch: Newspaper can be used as lasagna or sheet mulch. This is a method used to suppress weeds in your garden.

A newspaper sheet or cardboard is sandwiched between soil at the bottom and mulching materials like dry leaves, wood chips, pine needles, etc. These papers should be 1-2 layers thick and soaked with water.

3. Using as a Mulch: Newspaper reduces evaporation and is a good mulching material as it adds organic matter to the garden soil. 

Lay a 2-3 inch layer of shredded newspaper around your plants as a mulch and water it to prevent it from blowing along with the wind.

4. Using It as a Trap for Insects: Nocturnal pests like slugs and earwigs generally hide under the damp newspaper.

You can lay down newspapers by wetting them in your garden to attract these pests during dusk and destroy them while collecting the newspaper in the morning.

5. To Store Flowers and Vegetables: You can use newspapers to protect flowers like dahlia and gladiolus from frost by wrapping newspaper around them.

Wrap vegetables like tomato, eggplant, and squash to extend their shelf-life after harvesting. Veggies stay fresh when they do not touch each other.

6. To Keep Your Garden Tools Clean: You can keep your garden tools clean and durable by wiping off the soil from the tools with a newspaper. This will prevent rusting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of newspaper can be composted?

All types of newspapers except glossy paper can be composted. The shiny or glossy paper contains toxic metals used to make dyes and is not safe for your compost.

How much newspaper do you put in compost?

When you are using the newspaper in your regular compost, use two handfuls of shredded newspaper in each layer and mix them with other brown materials. If you are using the newspaper in worm bins, shred them and fill 2/3rd of the bin in the bottom. When they are damp, they will make enough space for food scraps.

Is it better to recycle or compost newspapers?

Composting and recycling both have benefits. Composting instead of dumping can help reduce methane emissions and protect the earth from climate change. And when you recycle paper, you can avoid deforestation by making new paper. So, if you only have a small amount of paper, add it to compost, and if you have more, send it to recycling.

How long does it take for newspapers to compost?

It takes around two months for the newspaper to decompose completely. Once all the materials turn into a black soil-like structure, they are considered to be composted.

Is the ink used in newspapers toxic to compost?

No. The inks used in the modern-day newspapers are entirely safe to compost as they are 100% made with natural ingredients like soy.

Is newspaper green or brown composting material?

Newspaper is considered brown material in composting and adds carbon to your compost.

Can you compost junk mail?

Yes, junk mail is made of natural materials that are used to make newspapers and thus are safe to compost.

Can you compost magazines?

No, most of the magazines are made with glossy paper that is coated with plastic or synthetic materials and might contain heavy metals. Moreover, sometimes the colored ink used in magazines might be toxic. So it is better to keep magazines out of the compost bin and use them for recycling.

Newspapers hold a great place in your compost bins as they are brown composting materials and add carbon to your compost. These papers carrying worldly information are a great addition to your worm bins as well.

So next time when you think that your newspaper is nothing but trash after they are read once, don’t forget to have a second thought about composting them.

By now, you’ve probably wondered at least once that cardboard may also be compostable. So, can you compost cardboard? Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to find out.