Just as the title says, I am just wondering if it is fine there are some rubbish (e.g. plastic items, and very rarely metal parts and cigarettes) as well as some uncharacterized dirt. It is because part of the fallen leaves collected was on the pedestrian road and we inevitably collect some unwanted stuff. By being safe, I mean that the compost can be used in crop production.


If you are saying you cleaned up the neighborhood of fallen leaves and got a few pieces of plastic, metal a few cigarettes...I would not worry. Compost the leaves adding green material (grass clippings) and carbohydrate food scraps.

The compost you purchase from a facility where people dump leaves, clippings all of the time will always have bits and pieces of man-made debris. Plastic will be with us forever, sigh. There is always pesticide residue in purchased compost as well. At least one knows that there isn't much pesticide residue unless the trees were sprayed. Not much one can do to hope for unmolested compost and you are doing the best thing by making your own having quite a bit more control.

Cigarette butts are not a problem in my opinion. The tobacco is a 'natural' product after all...The additive chemicals have already been smoked, inhaled and are in someone's lungs. (The word 'Natural' does not mean SAFE. The inherent nicotine in tobacco has one of the highest kill rates...it is termed LD50; 'Lethal Dose in half the population of test subjects, mice, rats). Nicotine has one of the LOWEST numbers of all chemicals. Meaning it is a very potent poison.

The filter is plastic stuff and will be around forever unless you pluck it out of the soil/mulch. Unless there is a whole ashtray of butts, no biggie. Paper will decompose eventually.

The material you need to worry about in your compost is feces from omnivores and carnivores (that includes us), meat and meat products as well as household chemicals. Urine is fine but I draw the line there if I want to use my compost for food crops.

You are doing a great service for your neighbors, showing them the value of those leaves. Such super stuff. One caveat! Are any of these leaves from walnut trees, Juglans ssp.?? Any debris from walnut trees should never be used in compost. Working with walnut as a carpenter means masks, gloves, sequestration from other projects and cleaning up all the sawdust because of the toxic chemicals this genus produces...

An excerpt from this 'gardening dude' about walnut leaves:

And what about making compost with the leaves? Dr. Roth told me he never puts ANY black walnut leaves in his compost pile; he saves them to use as a 'killing mulch' to get rid of unwanted plants! (VERY clever! And I'll add that the chipped uproots would be even more effective!) The experts at Ohio State say that well-shredded walnut leaves lose their plant-harming capability after a month of hot composting. But if you have a LOT of black walnut leaves going into your pile, they suggest you test the finished compost by planting some extra tomato seedlings in it before you use it on a larger scale. Juglone, they explain, is tomato Kryptonite!

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    Hi, thank you so much!! The leaves are mostly from Lagerstroemia speciosa and Cinnamomum spp. as far as I know.
    – y chung
    Oct 24 '16 at 23:44
  • You are good to go for composting. I am glad you were being attentive!...Crape or Crepe Myrtle....ohhhhh and yumm. Where is it you live?
    – stormy
    Oct 25 '16 at 2:51
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    I live in Hong Kong :D
    – y chung
    Oct 25 '16 at 5:04
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    Unfortunately cigarette butts are pretty nasty - the still contain a large dose of carcinogens and heavy metals. I would make an effort to sort them out. tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/Suppl_1/i1.full
    – max
    Oct 27 '16 at 16:50
  • Where are the carcinogens coming from? Tobacco or the 'other' additives? When one works with soil and as one works with soil it is easy to pull unwanted items out, if they can be seen. The problem is and will always be that all composts are made with stuff that can't be seen usually dumped by homeowners. We all think it is the big corporations that are polluting our waters, soil and air. Fact is, homeowners are the worst polluters based on pure arrogance and ignorance. They are so out of it that they use herbicides as a pesticide and viseversa...for an example. Talk about killing bees?
    – stormy
    Oct 27 '16 at 20:25

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