Recently I started composting at home.

As many sources told me not to put cooked food and several other things. Mainly to not attract animals. I don't put them on on my compost pile, but put put it in the bag for organic waste which goes to the recycling park (as I don't have chicken who I can give it to).

That made me think that maybe if everybody does this, the recycling park might get problems for discomposing the organic waste?

I was also wondering about the fact I'm not allowed to sort dog and other animal feces together with the organic waste, if all other organic things I shall not put on my compost pile are allowed, why animal feces aren't?


  • 1
    See here for a related answer about meat composting. Basically, if you're asking on sustainability.stackexchange.com, you're kind of asking the wrong questions. The sustainable (but unpleasant) answer involves not cooking more food than you use, and quite frankly, not having a dog, either.
    – Nate
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 23:12
  • 1
    And meat composting is fitted for the sustainability stackexchange? Well, actually I always cook more than we eat. But if you cook for other people it's so difficult to know how much they will eat on which day. Then you use the left overs the next day. You are right I promise to always avoid any type of cooked food waste!
    – Sironsse
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 7:52
  • Yeah, there's nothing bad with leftovers. I meant, averaged over time, you don't want to prepare more than you can eat. It's certainly fine to do all your cooking on one day, and feast on leftovers all week :)
    – Nate
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 8:11
  • 1
    @Nate Why is having a dog not sustainable? The dog might perform necessary functions on a farm and be vegetarian. When he dies of old age, he will be biodegradable, too.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 5:14
  • @user1205935 But read some articles about illnesses that might occur when dogs lack proteins and vitamins. Some vegetables and other human food are even poisonous for dogs. Each bird has its own feeding pattern, depending upon their digestive system, isn't it? An interesting discussion topic!
    – Sironsse
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


Cooked food may attract animals, but I find a few ways of composting them. If you have a composter or a vermipost bin, those will work too. Below is my own method though.

I tend to aggressively sheet mulch. While I am here in Indonesia I am known to prune the mango trees to get leaves to sheet mulch. These allow me to compost a fair bit of stuff in place.The leaves are definitely a green and they take a few weeks to decompose. The basic structure here is an alternating set of layers of "greens" and "browns" to help speed composting, but these are small and make use of surface area and ground contact rather than size and heat. In this way I incorporate smallish amounts of more risky foods (like cooked veggies) underneath the mulch, between the mulch and the soil. I find that if I do this, it decomposes fast and the sorts of animals attracted tend to be small decomposers like centipedes, ants, and earthworms. The 4 inch layer of leaves act as a bit of an odor damper and help avoid some of the more noxious pests (like cockroaches). Other approaches might include plastic composters, covered piles, vermipost, or the like.

As always pest management is very local so what works for me may not work for you. Trial and error is necessary sometimes.

  • If I understand well, you make a sheet on the groundsurface, instead of making a pile for those wastes?
    – Sironsse
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:36
  • The sheet is a mixture of leaves, stemms, and sometimes newspaper and cardboard. The other waste goes underneat the sheet mulch and on top of the soil. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:42
  • Doesn't that take a lot of space in your garden?
    – Sironsse
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 15:35
  • 1
    Yes, but everything is composted in place directly around the plants, so it is space that wouldn't otherwise be used. I also compost in place in flower pots around the plants there too. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 16:39

You can place cooked food on your heap, it will eventually be turned into compost, but like you said it may attract vermin so you'll probably want to use a composter instead of a heap. Also large quantities of some ingredients (e.g. very oily food) may slow down the composting process.

Vermicomposting in a wormbin is similar to using a composter. Much of the cooked food can be thrown in, but you'll still have to be careful with some of the things. For example onions and citrus fruit should only be provided in small quantities as large amounts will raise the ph-level too much and the worms may die. Meat, fish and oily stuff can be processed, but often goes bad and stink before the worms have had a chance to process it. In bins without a lid meat and fish may also attract flies and maggots.

The easiest solution for cooked food probably is to preprocess it in a Bokashi bin. Micro-organisms in the bin will break down the things that are more difficult to compost (like meat and oils). After two weeks you can process the Bokashi bin contents further by throwing it on a compost heap, in a vermicompost bin, or simply by burying it in your garden.

As for the animal feces, they actually can be placed on a compost heap too but the reason why it is not recommended is that animal feces often contain pathogens that can be dangerous to people if they are not processed in the right manner. Feces from rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs are rather harmless and can be placed on your heap safely. Feces from dogs and cats are more troublesome. Cat feces for example may contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that is dangerous for people with a weak immune system and for pregnant women.

  • Is there any overview-like read about animal faeces, their pathogens, and composting?
    – theUg
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 14:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.