Can You Compost Pencil Shavings?

There are many things that can go in your compost bin. It’s not just for leftovers and other organic waste that can’t be thrown away any other way. Even if something doesn’t seem like it would break down easily, if it was alive at one point and is made of plant materials, you can probably compost it.

Although, there are some things that will keep your compost from working well. If you want to get the most out of your compost, you should avoid putting certain things in it.

If you’ve found yourself wondering “are pencil shavings compostable?”, “how do I do it?” and “how long will they take to compost?”: you’ve come to the right place.

Can you put pencil shavings in the compost?

Yes, pencil shavings are compostable. Adding pencil shavings to your compost pile will contribute to creating a nutrient-rich fertiliser that you can use in your garden.

Can you put them in the waste bin?

If you don’t have a compost bin, you can put woody materials in the appropriate roadside collection bin but biodegradable materials like pencil shavings are better off being in a compost pile.

Disposing of organic or compostable waste like woody materials in landfill can contribute to the release of potent greenhouse gases like methane, which has around 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Methane emissions are significantly reduced by composting suitable food waste and organic materials.

How to compost pencil shavings

You should soak the shavings in water before burying them in your pile both to soften them and make them easier to break down.

As a brown material, you should be adding pencil shavings and other brown carbon-rich materials then a layer of green to cover it. Remember to use a garden fork or a stick to poke holes in your compost every couple of weeks to mix the pile up.

How long will pencil shavings take to compost?

It takes around 6 weeks for pencil shavings to completely decompose in a compost. Because they decompose relatively quickly, you can add them to your compost fairly regularly.

Pencil shavings discarded on the ground or buried in the ground will take longer to decompose.

Are pencil shavings a green or brown material?

Pencil shavings should be considered a brown material when composting.

Materials that are brown, like pencil shavings, are often more dry solid and woody; and are a source of carbon (one of the four essential ingredients) for your compost. Harder brown materials create air pockets that provide oxygen for the microorganisms breaking the compost pile down.

Composts rely on brown materials like pencil shavings to add bulk and structure to the pile.

Will composting them attract pests?

No. Pencil shavings will not attract pests.

Composting considerations

When composting pencil shavings, you should avoid composting other parts of the pencil such as they aren’t biodegradable.

Omar Agor-Wood
Omar Agor-Wood

Omar is a digital marketer by day for one of the UK's largest environmental consultancy companies, and is writing like the world depends on it for Pick Ethical at night. He has a passion for hiking, bouldering, and making a fuss of his dog.

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