One Green Thing: Splitting hairs when it comes to your compost pile

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

If you put something on your compost pile, is it composting or recycling (or reusing)? You are probably “splitting hairs” with the definition when you put the hair from your hairbrush onto the compost pile.

According to, human hair is compostable (and, therefore, recyclable) because it is full of useful nitrogen. Ask your stylist for a “go bag”? Or, send hair to the San Francisco organization “Matter of Trust.” They collect human and pet hair to use when soaking up oil spills.

Every bottle of wine is zero-waste

Why? The bottle can be recycled, “ReCORK America” has drop-off locations and leftover wine can be added to your compost pile to help encourage the composting process. (Who has this kind of leftovers?)

Cotton for composting

Cotton balls, cotton swabs (with wooden sticks), clothes dryer lint, and shredded cotton rags (or clothing) can be tossed onto the pile.

Absolutely nothing to do with it

It’s not about the composting, but did you read about the new study that says lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as DEET in keeping mosquitoes away? With some investigating and an Internet purchase, I have my own spray bottle filled with a mixture of lemon eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and vodka.

An old wives’ tale mentions your personal aroma and how to make it unattractive to flying/biting critters. One friend suggested trying a tablespoon of vinegar every morning. Another said lemon, and so, with every glass of tea, a slice of lemon is now added.

Regarding the lemon eucalyptus oil: The first two trials worked great (although reapplication was necessary after about an hour). The third wasn’t as good when the bottle was left in the car while taking a walk along the new boardwalk over the wetlands in Beckman Mill County Park outside of Beloit, Wis. Hummm.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue

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