Best Source of Carbon for Composting in a City Without Trees & Leaves

I’m very lucky that although I live in an urban area, I have trees that drop tons of leaves right outside my door.

If you’re not this lucky, you may have to go out hunting for leaves…they work better than any other material for balancing out your food scraps in the compost pile.

Plan B involves paper and cardboard- be sure to avoid allowing tape to get in the mix or you’ll be picking it out later.

He mentions pine pellets- I’ve never tried these and I have no clue where a feed store is, but I’m going to look.  I’d suggest finding a wood shop instead and asking for their sawdust.

Piles that are sawdust intensive might not yield the best compost ever, but it will get the job done.

Good luck!

2 thoughts on “Best Source of Carbon for Composting in a City Without Trees & Leaves”

  1. I got to the part of the video where he suggests using leaves from the streets. There is a reason that most states require street sweeping debris to be treated as hazardous waste.

    The material in street sweeping (or leaf collection from the sides of the road) will contain heavy metals, brake linings, particulate from vehicle exhaust, litter, liquids such as oil, brake fluid, etc. You really want to put that in your compost?

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      Where is leaf debris considered hazardous waste?

      This is news to me.

      In Philly, leaves are swept up and composted at a few locations.

      While the ideal scenario is to keep your compost totally pure, perhaps I should clarify in this video as I have in the past:

      -I compost to reduce what I send to the landfill by 30-40% and not create methane

      -I don’t use my compost to grow food

      However, thermophilic composting itself has been shown to digest many different contaminants, including TNT.

      While your contaminant examples obviously aren’t that, the bottom line for me is that if my block is cleaning up leaves, and that’s the only access I get to leaves which is the most important ingredient in excellent compost, and they otherwise are black-bagged and trashed, I will always use them in my own compost bins instead.

      In other words, I really don’t care if my finished product is contaminated, which I honestly doubt it will be as it cooked between 110F and 140F for a year straight, followed by a year of curing as of September 2015.

      Back to the point- My personal position is to use leaves in my current scenario, and I encourage others to do the same.

      The alternative effect is that it either goes to the landfill to give off methane or even worse will end up in a fucking waste-of-energy incinerator as a large portion of Philadelphia’s trash does (i.e. landfilling the air).

      I’d rather break down the largest portion of our landfills, let it sit an extra year and then use it horticulturally alongside my house, which happens to be 24″ wide and runs along the sidewalk that people throw trash on all the time.

      Please tell me more about leaves being considered properly defined hazardous waste…I have yet to hear of this ever being the case and that fascinates me.

      I totally understand you want your compost to be pure. My suggestion is to keep it pure then. In my situation, I’m doing a two year thermophilic process and will be testing it out of curiosity although I won’t be using it for any plants.

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