Can You Compost Olives? What About The Pits?

Olives, those small but mighty fruits, have found their way into many of our dishes, from salads to pizzas. But what about composting them? Can you toss those leftover olives into your compost bin and let nature do its thing? Let’s dive into the world of olive composting and discover the ins and outs of decomposing these little gems.

The Decomposition Journey of Olives

When you decide to compost olives, you’re essentially asking Mother Nature to work her magic. But how long does it take for olives to decompose? Let’s break it down:

Olive TypeDecomposition Time
Fresh Olives6-12 months
Olive PitsSeveral years
Pickled OlivesMuch longer

Can You Compost Olive Pits?

Olive pits are the tough nuts in this equation. They’re sturdy and take their sweet time breaking down. Expect several years for them to fully decompose. While they can technically go in your compost, you might consider other uses, like creating unique garden paths or art pieces.

Can You Compost Pickled Olives?

Pickled olives come with a twist – they’re pickled! This means they’ve soaked up all sorts of brine and vinegar goodness. While these olives can eventually decompose, the high salt content and preservatives might slow the process down. It’s best to enjoy them in your martini and find other composting candidates.

Can You Compost Olive Oil?

While we’ve explored the composting potential of olives themselves, what about the oil extracted from these small but flavorful fruits? Can you toss olive oil remnants into your compost bin and expect nature to work its magic?

The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. Olive oil is a fatty substance, and composting fats can be tricky. In general, composting oils, including olive oil, can pose some challenges. Here’s why:

  1. Slow Decomposition: Fats and oils take much longer to decompose compared to organic matter like fruit scraps or leaves. They can create a greasy layer in your compost pile, slowing down the overall decomposition process.
  2. Potential Odors: Decomposing oils can emit unpleasant odors, which might not be desirable if your compost bin is near your home or garden.
  3. Attracting Pests: Oils can attract pests like rodents, which can disrupt your composting efforts.

So, while it’s not impossible to compost olive oil, it’s generally not recommended for the average home composting setup. Instead, consider alternatives like recycling the oil or using it for other purposes, such as making homemade soap or candles. If you do choose to compost olive oil, use it sparingly and ensure it’s well-mixed with other compostable materials to minimize potential issues.

What Should You Compost?

Now that we’ve conquered the olive composting puzzle, it’s time to dive deeper into the world of compostable goodies

  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps: Peelings, cores, and scraps from a wide variety of fruits and veggies.
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters: Used coffee grounds and unbleached coffee filters.
  • Eggshells: Crushed eggshells provide calcium for your compost.
  • Yard Waste: Grass clippings, fallen leaves, small branches, and plant trimmings (avoid treated or diseased plants).
  • Pet Fur: Shed fur from your pets, ensuring it’s clean and free from chemicals.
  • Straw and Hay: Adds carbon and improves aeration in your compost pile.
  • Tea Bags: Used tea bags and their contents (remove any staples).
  • Cardboard: Shredded cardboard or newspaper (free of colored ink and glossy finishes).
  • Kitchen Paper Towels: Used paper towels with no chemical residue.
  • Wood Chips or Sawdust: Small quantities to provide carbon.
  • Houseplant Trimmings: Pruned leaves and stems from indoor plants.
  • Dryer Lint: Natural fibers from your dryer’s lint trap.
  • Hair and Nail Clippings: Human hair and nail clippings (chemical-free).
  • Stale Bread: Old bread and baked goods (in moderation).
  • Cereal: Uncooked cereal or cereal that’s gone stale.
  • Cooked Pasta and Rice: Leftover, unsauced pasta and rice.
  • Expired Spices: Old, expired spices from your kitchen.
  • Manure: Well-rotted animal manure (from herbivores like rabbits or chickens).
  • Feathers: Feathers from poultry or birds (free from pesticides).
  • Paper Napkins: Used paper napkins (free of chemicals).
  • Seaweed: Rinsed seaweed from the beach (adds valuable nutrients).
  • Cotton and Natural Fabrics: Old cotton clothing or natural fabric scraps.
  • Ashes: Wood ashes in small quantities (avoid ashes from treated wood).
  • Nut Shells: Crushed nut shells, like those from peanuts or walnuts.
  • Wine Corks: Natural wine corks (not synthetic ones).

Remember to maintain a balance between green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials for a healthy compost pile. With this diverse list of compostable materials, you’ll be well on your way to creating nutrient-rich compost for your farm and pet care needs!

What You Cannot Compost

But wait, there’s a flip side. What should you avoid composting? Here’s a handy list of compost no-nos:

  • Meat and dairy products, as they attract pests.
  • Diseased plants to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Weeds with mature seeds – you don’t want them sprouting in your garden.
  • Plastic, metal, and glass – they definitely don’t belong in your compost bin.
  • Large branches or logs that take forever to break down.

Remember, composting is a delicate balance, much like creating a perfect recipe. Mix the right ingredients, and you’ll have nutrient-rich compost for your farm and garden. Mix the wrong ones, and, well, you might end up with a stinky mess.


While olives can find a place in your compost bin, their pits and pickled counterparts might not be the ideal candidates. Keep in mind the decomposition times and the potential delays due to added ingredients like salt and preservatives. As for what you should compost, the list is long and fruitful, but be sure to steer clear of composting no-nos to maintain a healthy, thriving compost pile.