Bread is a common food item in many homes. Like many other kitchen scraps, you might begin to ask yourself, “Can you compost bread?”. Although we usually purchase fresh bread to consume it in its best state, there are countless scenarios where this can turn into stale bread.
Food waste is a big thing in many homes. Composting is an excellent option to avoid sending your kitchen waste to landfills. However, as much as we can add food waste to the compost pile, some of them are just not the best. This raises the question of what and what not to add to your compost pile or bin.
Since bread is a staple, you might wonder what to do with leftover bread. Composting bread differs from household to household, with people having different opinions. Read on as we explore the composting process for bread and everything you need to know about turning bread into compost.
If you’re looking for answers to “Can you compost bread?” you’ll find them here. The short answer to this question is yes, bread can be composted.
However, composting requires careful attention to avoid causing an imbalance in your finished compost. If you explore various preferences in terms of composting bread, you’ll find that people approach this differently. Although adding bread to compost is possible, some people are against this. The reason for this mainly lies in the risk of attracting pests. However, as you’ll see later on, you can employ practices to tackle the pest problem.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, yard waste and food scraps make up 30% of our trash1. We can turn to compost to avoid compounding pollution and methane release problems in landfills.
You can add bread to your compost bin as with many other food scraps like banana peels and coffee grounds. Bread adds nitrogen to your compost heap due to its high nitrogen content. As a result, you can put your leftover bread to good use along with other food scraps.
However, a rule of thumb is to avoid bread containing traces of dairy products like butter or cheese. You can watch your organic material decompose into nutrient-rich soil with the proper composting methods. Ultimately, this reduces trash and also supports your garden soil. With nutrient-rich garden soil, you can plant a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Related: Click for more food waste facts and statistics to understand further why food waste is a global issue. We’ve also a complete breakdown of what you can and can’t compost and a guide to hot composting if you have more questions beyond whether bread is compostable.
We’ve already established that you can compost bread along with some other kitchen waste. However, the best bread to add to the compost pile is also the question.
If you have fresh bread, it only makes sense that you’d eat it. This food nourishes your body the same way stale or moldy bread nourishes your compost pile. So, once you notice you have stale bread in the kitchen, you’re certain this green compost material will support your pile. You can easily compost stale bread into your compost bin or compost pile.
Apart from this type of bread, moldy bread is another concern. Many people wonder if adding moldy bread to a compost bin is ideal. So, can moldy bread be composted?
Moldy bread is ideal for composting. It’s also one of the best bread options to support the composting process. Since the molds already indicate that there’s a decomposition process in place, this supports your compost. This bread type decomposes faster when composted. Also, it helps to speed up the decomposition process to acquire rich finished compost. So, even though you wouldn’t consume stale or moldy food scraps, you’re assured that your compost piles will love them.
Let’s explore why it might be a good idea to start composting bread. One of the main reasons to begin composting bread and food scraps is that they significantly reduce the amount of trash you produce.
Collectively, this then translates to less waste in landfills. It also means less toxic gas emissions due to the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in landfill sites. Due to piles of organic matter, restricted oxygen flow results in methane production.
Ultimately, if you’re on a zero waste or sustainable living journey, the chances are that composting has become important to you. If you’re just starting your journey, don't worry; you’ll find bread composting tips below.
Another reason to incorporate bread scraps into your compost pile is that bread breaks down quickly once you expose it to moisture in the pile. Unlike some products like cheese and dairy, bread won’t cause an imbalance as long as you maintain a good carbon-nitrogen ratio of about 30:1. Since it’s rich in nitrogen, it’ll decompose fast.
A healthy balance of both material types will support good composting practices.
Although adding bread to compost is a good idea, it comes with challenges. One of the main issues with adding bread to an outdoor compost pile is that it can attract pests. No one wants to constantly deal with pests while trying to maintain their compost pile or bin.
This sole reason leads many people to avoid adding bread to their compost pile or bin. As a result, they settle for throwing out leftover bread to prevent pest problems.
However, you can tackle this problem and ultimately prevent pests. If you have a compost bin, ensure you keep the lid on at all times. Alternatively, with a compost pile, a good step to prevent pests is to bury the bread in the pile. Since the odor could attract pests, tucking the bread deep in the soil can prevent the smells that attract pests.
Another challenge with composting bread is ensuring moisture balance. To avoid disrupting your soil’s moisture balance, you should pay attention to balancing carbon-rich material with nitrogen-rich material.
You can also ensure your bread is composted with other brown and green composting materials. This supports mixing materials. You can maintain a healthy composting practice with the correct balance of compost material. This then provides a rich finished material.
Compost materials typically fall under two categories. There are brown materials and green materials.
In simple terms, brown materials are carbon-rich materials that add carbon to your compost. They are usually dry and woody plant materials. The brown category includes items like sawdust, dry leaves, wood chips, and newspapers.
On the other hand, green materials are nitrogen-rich organic waste. The green category houses items like grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, apple cores, and veggie scraps.
Although brown in color, bread is a green material. It adds nitrogen to your compost and also breaks down easily. Many people go with 30 parts brown to 1 part green.
Although bread makes a good material for your compost bin, it also requires careful steps. These steps serve as precautions to ensure healthy and rich compost. Composing bread in your compost bin or pile without caution contributes to odors. This then attracts pests. Following the tips below will help you speed up the decomposition process. As a result, you’ll have finished compost in no time.
The first thing you need to do is to tear the bread into small pieces. Avoid adding whole bread slices into compost as it won’t break down fast. Breaking it into smaller pieces allows it to decompose faster in your compost bin or pile. It also mixes easily with other organic materials.
If you’re using a backyard compost heap or pile, make it a note always to bury the bread. You can do this by digging a hole in the center of the compost pile and putting bread scraps in. Instead of simply tossing the bread on top, this enhances the breakdown process due to heat generation in the center. It also conceals odor and keeps pests away.
Instead of tossing all the bread you have at once, add it slowly over time to your pile or bin. If you have a lot of bread to compost, simply store it in an enclosed container. Then, add a little at a time to your heap.
Cover them with carbon-based materials after placing your scraps at the center of the compost pile. You can use scraps like dry leaves and sawdust to maintain a balance of carbon and nitrogen. If you’re using an urban compost bin, look out for those with covers and charcoal filters. These help to prevent unpleasant odors.
Consider adding manure and garden soil over the bread and food scraps to boost your yard compost piles. Layering these materials over the organic matter further boosts decomposition. Remember to re-fill the hole you dug with compost.
In addition to bread, you might also be wondering if you can compost baked goods and pasta. You can include starchy foods like the aforementioned in your composting practice. However, pay attention to the same process as bread composting.
With pasta, avoid leftovers dipped in oils and sauces to prevent a soil imbalance. As a rule of thumb, only use dry or plain cooked pasta. Add them in small quantities and spread them in the bin or heap.
Composting baked goods requires extra caution. Many baked items are ultra-processed and contain high amounts of fats and sugar that can affect your compost. As a result, it’s worth examining the nature of the goods before composting them.
Now that you know that you can compost bread, you can begin to take steps to utilize leftovers. To ensure you’re creating healthy compost, follow our highlighted tips for a smooth process. Also, always pay attention to the ratio of carbon to nitrogen materials in the compost.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.