If you do crafts or have a business that leaves behind lots of leather scraps, you may be wondering how to repurpose those leftovers. Can you compost leather? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of putting leather into your compost pile.
Will Leather Break Down in Compost?
Leather has long been one of the substances you want to avoid putting in the compost pile, according to expert info online. Some of its ingredients are natural, but some additives are metal shavings and unknown chemicals, potentially slowing the composting process. These unknown ingredients can affect the behavior of the fertilization properties, slowing or even stopping them.
All composting materials should be metal-free, and this includes leather. Leather may also contain oils which are detrimental to the composting process. While dyes or pigments and tanning agents may degrade under certain biological conditions, they may not be available in the backyard compost pile. You most likely will want just a corner of the compost bin or a separate bin in which to do leather composting.
Your first concern of adding leather to the compost pile is will leather break down? If you know the oils and chemicals used to tan the hide and turn it into leather, you can determine how readily your particular leather will break down. If not, you probably don’t want to add leather to your main compost pile.
How to Compost Leather
While it is okay to add leather to compost, the breakdown of leather is a time-consuming process. Most other materials break down fairly quickly and decomposition may be sped up by frequent turning; not so with leather.
Learning how to compost leather more quickly includes the chore of cutting or shredding the leather into small pieces. If you wish to compost items such as handbags or belts, cut them as small as possible, removing zippers, studs, and other non-leather parts beforehand.
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Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.
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