If you are eco friendly and sustainability but receive garbage in junk mail. If so you might have the question: Can you compost junk mail? Let me explain it to you, there could be certain junk mail which you can use for landfill. You may compost others at home. You could apply this for newspapers as well as for booklets printed on newspapers. But there are elements such as glossy coatings which you cannot use for composting.

Can you Compost Junk Mail

However, there is no such regulation or standardization when it comes to deciding the material you need to use for composting junk mail. All you have to do is simply analyze them piece by piece. One might find it very easy to recycle the junk mail farther than sorting them out one by one. However, if you are a responsible person, composting junk mail would be one of the best things you could do to preserve the environment.

Types of junk mail that can be composted

There are some junk mail compost which you could make at home. You could shred and mix those into your compost while using a garden fork. That would add carbon for your mix and avoid ending up in a landfill. Before that you should know what type of junk mail you could compost. Here is a list.

Plain paper

You could consider composting any plain paper which is not made out of a non-glossy paper for the composting process. They will have minimal ink and non-glowing looksl. You may shred the plain paper as then it would tend to break down more effectively.

You could simply sprinkle the shredded paper on top of the compost and dug them with a garden fork. In addition to that, you could use them as worm beddings too. You may simply add a layer of them one inch deep into the worm farm. Alternatively, you may also utilize them to cover the food scraps as well.


Newspaper would be a fine option to add in your compost. However, you need to make sure that you separate it into individual sheets or even use them as shredded newspapers. You could simply tear the newspaper into small pieces and then soak them well with water so that it would make the breaking down of the newspaper even more rapid. When the worms can reach the surfaces more, it would make it easy for the worms and for the soil bacteria to break down the newspaper and add them into the finished product.

How to compost newspaper

Majority of the newspaper is entirely compostable. They would add so much value into your garden. Further there could be some newspapers where not all the pages are compostable.

Literally if there are some pages which are made out of non-compostable materials you need to separate them. The key material which many people use to make newspapers is called newsprint. That would give the unique trademark color and the regular newspaper feel for the newspapers. This material is made out of recycled material as well as from wood pulp. Ultimately, they would be manufactured into large paper rolls which would make it easy for printing.

These are cheap yet strong material which would perfectly fit in for newspapers printing. In addition to that they would work well with the natural inks which you use for printing purposes too. They would not last for too long, but would be ideal for short term use.

Is newspaper ink toxic ?

The greatest concern in using a newspaper is whether it contains toxic ink or not. Having that doubt is fair, as in the past many people opt to use the toxic materials and some heavy metals to make the inks.

However the ink which many companies use nowadays are completely natural. In fact it is made out of soy and many peoples first preference is to go ahead with that. In addition to that it would serve this purpose in the newspapers quite well too. In fact , many people use GMO soy to obtain this ink for printing purposes. They would release only a fewer number of residues from the GMO soy and you can almost neglect that in this composting process.

Can you Compost Junk Mail

Is the newspaper bleached ?

The newspaper made key material would not create a light color paper. Thus, you do not need to add another element to give it a unique color. That said, chlorine is the common bleach wood pulp which you could use for bleaching. However majority of the people tend to use hydrogen peroxide to bleach the newspapers. Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t create any harm for the composting.

Instead, it would fasten the breaking down of the microorganisms effectively. However, you don’t need not to worry about what is used for bleaching as unfavorable compounds such as chlorine may become inactive once the composting process takes place. Most of the time, it is the wood pulp. So, they can decompose in your compost pile without an issue. Further they may provide carbon for your compost piles as well.

How do I compost a newspaper ?

You could compost the newspaper with so much ease. However, you could try different methods to make it more effective and to make it provide more favorable conditions for your compost pile. If you add newspaper as it is, it makes clumps and create soggy wet conditions and it could be unhealthy for the composting process. Literally it would create anaerobic condition in the pile. Further you might also struggle to work with large clumps of wet paper.

So, the best you could do is to open the newspapers and tear them into small strips. Further if you wish you may also use a paper shredder to do this task. Once you use paper strips, it would give you a fluffy and light material in return and you could mix it in the compost pile very easily. Furthermore, they would better structure the compost pile too. keep in mind that newspaper would provide carbon and would provide a healthy structure in the compost pile too. Furthermore, you could add this when it is wet.

Newspaper for worm beddings

As aforesaid you could use newspaper as bedding for your worm compost systems. They would provide a good amazing physical structure. Besides these are high absorbing materials and that characteristic makes them a perfect option to add when it is full with water rich food scraps. Furthermore, you could use them as perfect beddings for the rest of other animals such as chicken, pigs and for sheep as well. 

In addition to that , newspapers are useful as lasagna mulch as well. Mulch is yet another layer type which you could use on top of the soil layer. Mulch layers can kill whatever the weeds which could freshly invade and control the weeds infestation. Usually you could do that with cardboard. However you could do it very easily if you use newspapers too.

If you wish to use newspaper as mulch, all you need to do is simply place the newspaper above the soil layer and make a stack of them for about a 1 inch of thickness over the bed area. Next you could cover it with mulch and add water for it and here you have made a natural biodegradable weed barrier.

Can you Compost Junk Mail

Some useful tips for Composting Junk mail & Newspaper

Ensure that you shred all the elements first.

If you have got tons of bills and any other junk mails, the first thing you need to do is shred everything. You may also go for a shredder and shred everything. So that you do not have to spend a lot of time shredding them. Once you use shredded items it would speed up the composting process in the compost piles. They would absorb the carbon quite faster . Further it would be easy for you to work with those as well.

If you have any elements which you suspect that they may contain toxic elements best would be to avoid using them. Alternatively, you may recycle them and then use them. That said, you don’t need to be fuzzy in selecting the elements you want for composting.

However best would be to avoid using the ingredients which may come up with heavy metals and any other contaminants that they may contain. If you are making compost for the plants which you have grown for ornamental value, you could still use them. However, don’t apply them on the plants which you may consume.

Junk mail that you should avoid composting ?

You need to avoid using the following elements such as Magazines, highly colored papers, glossy paper , plastic wrapped junk mail and thick cardboard. They cannot break down faster and chances are that they may sometimes release inks and dyes to the soil. Never use glossy magazines for the composting process. Don’t use them even shredded as it would take a longer time to break down. Further chances are that they may release certain dyes to the soil.

The glossy magazines may contain a plastic coating and the soil bacteria would find it difficult to digest them. Further there could be some plastic materials remaining in the soil and they would deposit in the soil as well.

You need to avoid using Highly colored paper too here. They would usually consist of an ink which is synthetic and soil bacteria would find it difficult to break down those. Ultimately these ink would remain in the compost and land up in the soil as well. `Apart from the above, you need to refrain from using glossy paper as well. Glossy papers come up with a plastic coating which would not decompose even if they take a longer time to do it.

Apart from the above mentioned, do not use plastic wrapped junk mail as well. As you may already be aware , plastic cannot decompose and it would end up trapping the junk in the soil mix.

However if the junk mail is on paper and if it has a smaller amount of ink, you may remove it separately and then use it for composting. Lastly you need to avoid using thick cardboard or paper without shredding.

The thick cardboard or paper would also take a fair longer time to break down. It would take a longer time even if you shred it. So, if you wish to use them, you need to ideally tear them into a couple of pieces which are about 1-2 inches wide and then use. Bear in mind that cardboard strips would break down and they would make great sources of brown materials.

Can you Compost Junk Mail

How to compost regular mail

Regular mail is made out of plain paper, and they should not carry plastic as well. I recommend you shred the paper so that it would fasten the decomposing process. You could make use of a shredder to do this task for you.

You could simply take the paper out of the envelope and shred it into pieces. Thereafter soak the paper in some water for about one hour and it will make it hydrated. Next you may pour water and the paper also to your compost. Bear in mind that plain paper which has a small amount of ink would decompose overtime in the soil mix. For a start you could add only a small amount of paper.

If I further elaborate, 1-2 letters per month would be adequate for this process. Paper has high components of Carbon and low components of other nutrients. Thus, you may consider them as brown materials. 

You could add shredded paper along with other elements such as straw, hay and sugar cane as they would provide a wide array of nutrients for the soil bacteria to fulfill their dietary requirements. Once you use a compost pile which has numerous ingredients in it, it would help to keep a proper balance in the compost pile in terms of nutrients. They would make a perfect mix of ingredients in the compost pile.

Conclusion: Can You Compost Junk Mail?

To sum up, you can compost junk mail if they are not glossy, highly colored paper and cardboard. You could use a shredder to tear them into small pieces and then apply it on the pile as it would fasten up the decomposing process.

Moreover, you may be tactful in soaking the paper with water or spraying some water on them to make them hydrated. These tactics would help for an effective breakdown in the materials in the compost pile. Lastly, I urge you to mix brown material along with fall leaves, straw hay and even some coffee grounds to make it more productive and effective.

Credit to : I Went Vegan

Read Next : Can You Compost Paper Towels? This Will Help You Decide!


Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

Write A Comment