Can You Compost Newspaper? The Answer is Yes! Here’s How

Are you looking for a way to reduce your environmental footprint and make your garden thrive? Look no further than composting newspaper! 

Many people are concerned about the effects of inks used in newspapers on their compost pile, but today’s newspaper ink is 100% non-toxic, including both black and white and color inks.

Not only is it safe for your compost pile, but it can also help keep your garden green and reduce waste in landfills.

According to a survey conducted in February 2022, adults who identified as white and Hispanic were found to be the most frequent readers of newspapers, with 12% of them stating that they read newspapers on a daily basis. (Source)

Have you ever wondered that can you compost newspaper? If so – in this article, we’ll discuss whether newspaper can be composted and how to do it properly.

Moreover, if you’re passionate about organic farming and composting, visiting “Improve Home Garden” will help you stay connected with the latest techniques and information on how to improve your gardening skills and increase your yields.

Can You Compost Newspaper?

Composting is a natural way of recycling organic materials, such as food and garden waste. 

By breaking down these wastes slowly over time, you create nutrient-rich compost which can be used to improve the quality of your soil and provide essential plant nutrients. 

Composting also helps reduce waste sent to landfills, thus reducing methane gas emissions and combating climate change.

Newspaper can be a great addition to an already healthy compost pile. It is made of mostly cellulose fibers, which break down quickly and are beneficial for soil structure and aeration. 

According to Pew Research Center, the estimated U.S daily newspaper circulation was 24.3 million on weekdays and 25.8 million for Sunday in 2020.

When it comes to composting newspaper, it’s important to keep in mind that this paper product decomposes slower than other materials. 

However, newspaper is a great source of carbon, which helps maintain moisture levels in your compost pile. 

To ensure that the newspaper breaks down quickly, it is recommended to shred it first before incorporating it into your compost pile. 

If you don’t have a paper shredder, you can tear it up by hand. It’s also important to mix in some twigs and shredded leaves for balance, as this will help speed up the decomposition time.

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends using three types of ingredients: brown, green, and water. Brown, or carbon-rich materials, include dead twigs, branches, leaves, and newspaper.

Green, or nitrogen-rich materials, include vegetable and fruit waste, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. To compost, you’ll need to have the right amount of items in all three categories.

It’s important to note that there are many materials that are unfit for composting, such as dairy products, pet waste, or oils.

Creating a Compost Pile

To create a compost pile in your yard, you will need tools like a shovel, pitchfork, and water hose with an attached spray head.

Choose a shady, dry spot that is near a water source and add equal amounts of brown and green materials as you collect them.

Make sure that the pieces are chopped or shredded, as you don’t want them to be too large.

Keep your compost moist by putting a lid on the bin or covering the pile with a tarp.

It will take at least two months for the compost to darken enough to use, but the color should be a deep, rich brown when ready.

Shred everything first

It’s also important to shred all types of paper, even newspaper, before adding it to the compost. This helps it break down more quickly and ensures that no large pieces remain in the compost.

shred the paper first
Credit: Shutterstock

Can newspaper be recycled?

Yes, newspaper can be recycled. It should be placed in your recycling bin or taken to a local recycling center.

Keep in mind that newspaper may not be accepted everywhere, so it’s best to check with your municipality before attempting to recycle it.

Is newspaper ink safe for soil?

Some may be concerned about the ink in newspapers, most newspapers today use soy- or water-based inks. These inks have trace amounts of toxic compounds, but they are so low that they are not of concern.

Newspaper ink is generally safe for soil, as long as it does not make up more than 25-30 percent of your compost pile.

It is important to note that some inks may contain heavy metals and other contaminants so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Other ways to use newspaper in garden

If you’re looking for other ways to recycle newspaper, there are plenty of options that don’t involve composting.

One popular method is “lasagna gardening”, which enriches soil and fights weeds. To do this, gather newspaper, cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, and compost and create layers of each to use in your garden. The layers will break down over time, so you don’t have to dig into the soil. 

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If you don’t want to compost newspaper, there are other ways to use it in the garden. Newspaper can be used as a weed barrier; lay down some sheets of newspaper on top of the soil and then cover with compost.

The paper helps keep weeds from growing while allowing water to still reach the compost beneath. Newspaper is also useful for protecting plants from cold weather; cover plants with several sheets of newspaper on freezing nights.

Newspaper can also be used in a variety of other ways in the garden. It can be crumpled up into balls and used as mulch or shredded to use as compost material.

It can even be used with seeds when starting seedlings; lay down newspaper and then sow the seeds, as you can easily see them on the page.

No matter how you choose to use newspaper in your garden, it is a great way to repurpose this everyday material.

Newspaper provides an inexpensive and eco-friendly alternative to store-bought mulches and composts while still providing similar benefits.

If you’re wondering if you can compost newspaper, the answer is yes — but it can also be used in other ways for your garden.

Tips for Composting Newspaper:

When composting newspaper, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First off, make sure to shred or tear the paper into small pieces, as this helps it break down more quickly.

It’s also important to add the paper in layers and sprinkle with water when needed; newspaper can be slow to decompose so adding some moisture can help speed up the process.

Lastly, make sure to layer on other compost material such as grass clipping or food scraps for a balanced compost.

can you compost newspaper
Credit: istock

If you're looking to take your composting game to the next level, our article on composting egg cartons, parchment paper, and bones is a must-read.

Not only will you learn about the benefits of adding these materials to your compost, but you will also discover tips and tricks for maximizing their potential.

For example, did you know that egg cartons are a great source of carbon for your compost, or that parchment paper is a natural source of minerals? And by adding bones to your compost, you'll be able to create a rich and nutritious soil that will help your plants thrive.

Whether you're a seasoned composter or just starting out, our article will provide you with the knowledge you need to take your composting to the next level.

When In Doubt, Throw it out:

The statement "when in doubt, throw it out"  is applicable to composting newspaper as well.

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If you’re ever unsure about whether a particular type of paper is suitable for composting, it’s best just to throw it out.

For example, glossy magazines or newspapers with colored ink should not be added to the compost and should be disposed of in the trash instead.


Composting newspaper is a practical and sustainable solution for reducing landfill waste and improving the health of your garden.

By breaking down newspaper into nutrient-rich compost, you can provide your plants with the essential elements they need to grow strong and healthy.

Additionally, the composting newspaper is easy to do and can be done at home with minimal equipment.

By incorporating newspaper composting into your gardening routine, you can not only improve the health of your garden but also do your part in reducing waste and protecting the environment.


Can you compost magazines?

Yes, you can compost magazines. Magazines with glossy, colorful covers may take longer to break down because of the ink, but they are still considered “green” and recyclable materials for composting.

However, for best results, you should tear the magazine pages into small pieces before adding them to your compost pile. This will reduce their decomposition time and also improve aeration in your compost heap.

In addition to magazines and newspaper paper-based products such as envelopes, postcards and cardboard boxes can also be added to a compost heap as long as they are free of sticky adhesives like tape or labels.

How long does it take newspaper to compost?

Newspaper composts in around three months, depending on the environment and conditions that it is placed in.

If newspaper is shredded and then added to a compost pile with other organic materials alternatively it can take as little as 2 weeks for the paper to completely break down into nutrient-rich soil.
The success of deterioration also depends on how wet, warm and aerated the mix is.

Making sure to keep a proper balance of brown (carbon rich) material like paper and green (nitrogen rich) material like grass clippings, helps speed up the process.

Adding moisture when needed or covering your compost heap in material such as plastic will also help create an environment conducive to decomposition.

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