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Are Tissues Compostable? (And When Is a Trash Bin the Better Option?)

Are Tissues Compostable? (And When Is a Trash Bin the Better Option?)
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If you’re like me, you go through a lot of tissues, no matter the time of year. I’ve had seasonal allergies since I was a little kid, and while I’ve found that nasal sprays help quite a bit, I prefer not to use them all year round.

While I already knew that used tissues aren’t recyclable, it didn’t dawn on my until recently that all these tissues might be safe to add to the compost. After all, paper-based products are generally compost friendly.

Before you start throwing all of your used facial tissues into your compost bin, there are a few things you should be aware of first. Let’s dig in.

Can You Compost Tissues?

Like most paper products, facial tissues are safe to compost. They can be used to add brown material (rich in carbon) to your compost to balance out your nitrogen-rich materials, such as your kitchen scraps.

While facial tissues are safe to compost in general, there are some exceptions to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at those next.

When Are Tissues Not Safe to Compost?

While facial tissues are generally safe to compost, you do need to be aware of a few scenarios where it might make sense to choose a different option.

One slightly controversial scenario when it comes to composting tissues is when the tissues were used to wipe up your snotty nose during a cold, flu, or other serious illness.

While the cold and flu generally only survive for short periods of time outside of the body, that may not be the case for all pathogens. If your tissues were used to wipe up a runny nose due to allergies, you don’t have anything to worry about.

If they were used for something more serious, it’s probably a good idea to choose another method of disposal.

Another scenario where you might be better off stearing clear of the compost pile is when your tissues were made with more than just paper-based materials. Some tissues come coated in chemicals meant to help alleviate your symptoms, while others might be dyed. These types of tissue are better kept out of your compost.

Also, while most of us use our tissues to clean our noses, if you use them for another purpose, you need to be aware of what you’re wiping up before adding them to your compost. If you’re wiping up chemicals or other non-compostable items, you’ll obviously want to keep your tissues out of the compost.

How to Compost Tissues

With tissues already being very thin and light, there’s not too much special care that needs to be done when composting them. Ideally you should break them down further before adding them to your compost, as this will help them decompose more quickly.

In addition to breaking them down, you’ll want to mix them in with the other materials in your compost. This helps to prevent your compost from being too concentrated in one material in one area. After all, having a good carbon-to-nitrogen balance is key when it comes to composting.

Lastly, if your tissues are covered in a removable, non-compostable material, you’ll want to remove as much of that material as possible before composting. If the non-compostable material is not removable, such as a chemical that has soaked into the tissue, you’ll need to choose another method for disposal.

Final Thoughts

Aside from a few specific situations, facial tissues can be composted along with your other paper products without issue. By doing so, you’re not only keeping them out of landfills, but you’re also adding some beneficial carbon-rich material to your compost pile.

If you’re like me and deal with a runny nose from allergies all year long, you now know that there is an eco-friendly alternative to the trash bin for all your used tissues.

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