Making compost is one of the most eco-friendly ways of eliminating some of our waste around us, from garden to kitchen waste and even to cardboard papers. Yes, you heard right, cardboard paper.
Cardboard papers are some of the most common materials we find around us. You can convert cardboard to carbon-rich compost materials, but first of all, you must shred them to create more surface area and help the compost be ready on time.
There are different ways of cutting your cardboard paper into smaller bits for your compost; one is the lasagna method, which comes along for others.
Can I Compost Cardboard Paper?
The simple and straight answer is YES. You can turn cardboard paper into compost, and this is because they are rich in carbon which is one of the constituents of most compost materials. Today, so much cardboard paper is everywhere because they are the most used packaging material for many products.
Nowadays, many people need help dealing with the massive amount of cardboard paper waste they generate, from egg cartons to pizza and cereal boxes. At the same time, they can quickly dispose of these wastes so that they end up in landfills. More than 30% of waste in landfills is cardboard paper that could have been converted into compost that is useful for growing plants, not to mention the amount of money that could have been saved from disposing of these cardboard papers.
Cardboard paper is biodegradable, and given the proper condition, it can be turned into carbon-rich compost material. When mixed with nitrogen-rich green compost ingredients, you have compost that gives nutrients to your plants.
Can All Cardboard Papers Be Composted?
Not all cardboard paper can be composted because some contain chemicals unsuitable for your plants. Secondly, some of them can be bulky, and it will take a long time to be broken down into compost.
Below are the types of carbon that can be turned into compost:
This type of cardboard is usually used in packaging as fillers to keep things from breaking; they are also used as a layer in the box itself. This cardboard paper breaks down very fast because it is ribbed already. Other corrugated cardboard comes in large sheets or forms like egg cartons that must be shredded before being added to the compost.
Flat cardboards are easy to compost because they break down quickly to yield brown compost material. If these flat cardboard are mixed with other cardboard, it might be challenging to break down, so they must be shredded.
Wax-coated cardboard can be composted, but the problem is that it will take so long to break down completely. And before you can add this type of cardboard to your compost pile, you must remove the wax from the cardboard. Removing the wax might not be practical, so it is best not to add wax-coated cardboard to the compost heap.
Cardboards Papers That Should Not Be Composted
Here are cardboard papers that should not be composted:
1. Waxed cardboard paper whose wax has yet to be removed should be added to the compost bin because it has too many processed ingredients and chemicals that are good for growing plants.
2. Cardboard papers coated with paints and dyes should not be put in the compost pile because they will affect the general properties of the compost. Even though some inks are vegetable-based and can be composted because they are harmless, you must be sure of the type of inks you compost.
3. Large pieces of cardboard and intact boxes should not be added to the compost bin because they will not break down fast enough. Secondly, they will also absorb too much moisture meaning that other components of the compost bin might need more moisture.
4. Ensure you remove plastic or metal in cardboard paper from tape and package document envelopes before you compost the cardboard paper because plastic is usually not
How To Shred Cardboard For Compost (3 Easy Ways)
Incorporating cardboard into your compost pile is excellent for improving the compost’s structure because it introduces air pockets in the compost bin, and we know that oxygen, a constituent of air, is needed by beneficial microbes in the soil that help in the decomposition of organic matter.
Leaving large pieces of cardboard in a compost pile will cause them to become a big clump of mass that does not mix properly in the compost pile, thereby making it difficult to turn or yield compost in time, and this is why cardboard papers should be shredded before been incorporated in the compost bin.
There are a few ways of shredding cardboard paper for adding to a compost pile, including:
Using A tool Or Equipment
Shredding cardboard can be an uphill task that is both time- and energy-consuming, so using a tool or Equipment is the traditional way of shredding cardboard paper that is much easier. Below are some tools and Equipment that can be used:
1. A wood chipper or garden shredder: this is a convenient piece of Equipment for shredding cardboard; even though costly, it is very efficient and effective. To use a wood chipper for shredding cardboard paper, remove any plastic tape, wax, or painted area of the cardboard paper, roll it up into a big cardboard log, then feed it into the chipper, and it will shred the paper in no time.
2. Use A Box Cutter: this might not be the most efficient tool for shredding lots of cardboard paper because it requires much manual work. After all, a box cutter is a sharp knife that can easily slice through the cardboard. The blades of box cutters ate quite sharp and can easily slice through cardboard boxes, so always wear sturdy gloves when using them.
3. Electric Scissors Works too: electric scissors are a good tool for shredding cardboard paper because it requires less manual work. You should cut the cardboard paper with the grooves and not across it to make your work more accessible.
4. Electric Hand Saw: This potent tool with lots of speed that shreds a lot of paper in no time; a hand-held mini chainsaw is an excellent example. This tool is versatile as a gardening tool that can be used for pruning and other such activities.
The Wet Card Technique
It is a simple way of shredding cardboard papers without using a shredder. The idea is to make shredding these papers easier by getting them wet. The beauty of this process is that you don’t have to get rid of plastic pins in the paper before soaking them in water because the water makes it so easy to remove the pins. Secondly, the paper with plastic coatings can also be easily peeled away when the cardboard paper is wet.
The idea is to soak the paper until it becomes soggy before tearing it manually or with the help of a simple tool. The longer you soak your cardboard paper, the easier it will be to shred. If you live in a wet climate, pile your cardboard papers in a big container like an old bathtub and leave it under the rain, and they will become easy to tear.
Soaking cardboard papers for a couple of days will leave them very soft and eat them to tears with the hand, but you can use a fork that you twirl in the wet cardboard to shred it.
The Lasagna Method
In the real sense, this is not a way of shredding cardboard paper for compost; instead, it simply incorporates sheets of cardboard paper in layers, as you have with lasagna. When adding alternate coatings of organic matter to your compost pile or the raised beds of your garden, you add one layer of cardboard between layers of green material.
The lasagna method does not require shredding, so the composting process will be longer because the surface area of the cardboard paper for the microbes to work on is significantly reduced. Still, the layering of compost ingredients makes for a very homogenous compost. However, each layer of cardboard must be sprinkled with water before adding other green and brown compost ingredients.
Using the Lasagna method, your compost could take up to 6 months to be ready, so you can add some soil and old compost on each layer of cardboard paper that will help to jump-start the composting process.
Compost is fast becoming the go-to source of organic fertilizer for most gardens. It is a cheap and sustainable way of incorporating nutrient-rich organic matter into the soil. That cardboard papers can go into the compost pile is lovely because so much can be recycled instead of ending in our landfill.
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By shredding this paper using some tools or Equipment or soaking it and tearing it manually, we make the compost ready in no time.
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