The Merits of Table Scraps

Most people toss out their table scraps, not realizing how valuable they can be. Here are a few reasons why you don’t want to be like most people.

| November/December 2014

  • Don't toss out table scraps and their nutrients when you could be using them for compost.
    Photo by Veer

If you don’t yet have a compost pile, you’re missing out in a big way. First of all, composting gives us the opportunity to reduce the waste coming out of our kitchens. Food makes up almost 13 percent of the U.S. waste stream, and an even higher percentage of landfill-caused methane gas (a major contributor to climate change) because foods produce large quantities of methane as they break down. But perhaps even more amazing? Compost from the parts of your food that you don’t eat today can actually improve the nutritional value of the homegrown food you’ll eat tomorrow.

Scraps for Your Soil

To realize the benefits of these table scraps, work them into your compost pile, where they will break down alongside yard waste into garden fertilizer that you can apply directly to garden beds. To learn the basics of composting, visit the composting collection page. It’s incredibly easy. Some table scraps help deter animals when added directly to garden beds. We’ve noted these cases.


Benefits: Apples and apple pomace (the remains from juicing) contain a fair amount of potassium, plus some phosphorus. They decompose quite quickly.
Note: Avoid non-organic apple skins, which have been sprayed with pesticides. Make sure you balance the moisture and acidity of pomace with equal parts dry leaves and newspaper.

Banana Peels

Benefits: Banana peels are a rich source of potassium (around 40 percent), some phosphorus, a little nitrogen, plus trace elements—all of which makes for strong stems in your plants. Banana peels also help activate the decomposition of other organic matter.
Note: Chop peels to speed breakdown.

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