How To Find Free Composting Material

Want to start a compost pile, but don't have enough organic matter? Here are some tips for finding free composting material. | areturntosimplicity.comCompost is a gardener’s best friend.

This “black gold” is relatively easy to make, once you learn the basic principles, and the ingredients are pretty simple.

Usually, the hardest part of composting is finding enough organic matter to add to your piles!

This is especially a problem if you live in the city, or are using a large composting system to feed your chickens like we are.

So, here is a compilation of ideas for finding free composting material, whether you live in the city, OR the country!


Coffee shops.

Most coffee shops will gladly save their coffee grounds for you to pick up each week. You may have to try a couple different shops to find an unclaimed one though! 🙂


If you have a local lumber yard, they may let you come pick up loads of their extra sawdust. Make sure you only get sawdust from untreated wood, and remember that sawdust is VERY high in carbon, so it will need lots of green material added to it.


In the city, people bag their leaves and put them on the street for pick up. Now, technically, you can pick up any one’s leaves once they set them on the curb for pick up, but I would recommend against that.

You never know what kind of chemicals the leaves will be contaminated with, so I suggest only collecting leaves from people you are acquainted with, and know do not use lawn or tree chemicals. Plus, this way, you have their permission, and it isn’t as creepy as just pulling up and snatching bags of leaves from their curb. 🙂

Elderly neighbors usually appreciate any yard help, and will gladly let you take whatever leaves, grass clippings, or other organic matter you remove from their yard for them.


Craigslist is a great resource for finding free sawdust, leaves, animal poo that people need to get rid of! Just look in the “free” and “farming” sections.

Local Horse, Rabbit or Cow farm.

The best of these is usually a horse boarding type of farm, where there are lots of horses kept in barns, which equals lots of good poo!

Here is my awesome husband unloading our last truck load of horse manure from a local boarding farm.

A Health Revolution |

Grocery Store.

Almost every grocery store throws away large amounts of slightly spoiled produce every day, but most of them will give it to you for free if you are willing to consistently pick it up! The grocery store in my tiny little town gives theirs away to a local farmer every single day. (They also give their meat bones and scraps away! Perfect for dog food!) Too bad I am not the local farmer who gets the goodies! 🙂

Then, of course you have your own produce scraps, coffee grounds, kombucha scoby’s, etc to add to your compost as well.

All of this will ensure that you have a low cost and easy to maintain supply of compost!

Want to start a compost pile, but don't have enough organic matter? Here are some tips for finding free composting material. |

Have any other free composting material sources? Give a shout out in the comments below, and happy composting!

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6 responses to “How To Find Free Composting Material”

  1. daisy says:

    I have been thinking of contacting a seller on Craig’s List for rabbit poop. They sell rabbits, so maybe they’d be willing to let me come collect the droppings. I don’t think it needs to “cure” like some compost does. Great ideas!

  2. Margy says:

    I only compost my own garden and kitchen scraps, but even with that I get a good amount of compost to add to my garden each year. Since I work with a small volume, I cut everything up into small chunks so that it decomposes quicker. That way in a year I can add it to my soil and use it right away. – Margy

  3. Some restaurants will save their veg scraps for you to pick up if you agree to a regular schedule. Ask around because the busier places don’t have time or the inclination to help. It may take a few tries but you might get lucky.

  4. Nikki says:

    Great list. Bakeries are also great places for egg shells (and sometimes coffee grounds and banana peels), especially if you provide a small container for them to go in and pick up regularly.

  5. Carla says:

    I used to live about 35 miles outside of Portland, Oregon and they have a great service where you can go early, before they open and they will load your pickup truck with “ZooDoo”. This stuff is amazing – I used to get a load or two in the fall and spread it anywhere I wanted to have new garden beds. The next spring, whatever I planted in those beds practically sprang out of the ground, they grew so fast! Another source of good compost material is a commercial mushroom farm.

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