Brown Materials: Composting 101
Brown Materials: Composting 101

Brown Materials: Composting 101

Let’s continue our Composting 101 series with a discussion of “brown” materials and what their place is in the decomposition of compost. (Check out our post, “Green Materials: Composting 101“, to learn all about what “green” materials do for compost too!)

What Is Brown Material?

Brown materials are materials that are carbon-rich that go into your compost, like fall leaves and egg shells.

What Do Brown Materials Do?

Much like the nitrogen in “green” materials provides energy to the microbes that help break down the compost, the carbon in “brown” materials provide energy for soil-dwelling microorganisms while they break down the organic matter.

Browns also help to add air into the compost. They are more “bulky” materials, which allows space between the more dense “green” materials.

Be careful, though, because having too much carbon materials will slow down the decomposition process.

Types of Brown Materials

 Here is the list of brown items that can be composted at the Broomfield Crescent Grange compost area for our very own Compost Club through Sustainable Broomfield. (Interested in the Compost Club? Email to learn more!)                    

Brown Materials:

  • Dried Leaves                              
  • Dried Grass (Untreated)                 
  • Paper Towels & Napkins                
  • Egg Shells                           
  • Brown Garden Waste                
  • Paper bags (torn up)                   
  • Newspaper (1” strips)                
  • Straw (small pieces)             
  • Shredded Cardboard           
  • Shredded Egg Cartons                
  • Dried Animal Bedding                      
  • Sawdust (untreated)


Most backyard compost setups can accommodate these types of brown materials.

Click DOWNLOAD to download a free, pdf copy of this brown materials list!

Don’t forget, our Resources page is an excellent place to find more information about composting.

Until next time,

Happy Composting!

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