I get most of my bills by email these days, but that doesn't mean my files aren't stuffed to the gills with old papers and paperwork. So a few weeks ago, I bought a new shredder and set out on a bit-by-bit quest to get rid of all of that old pulp.
But as the bucket beneath my shredder quickly filled, I began to wonder: what am I going to do with all of these shreddings? I don't have to put them in the landfill, do I?
The answer is no, you don't. There are quite a few things you can do with the detritus from your shredder, and any of them will help turn your identity-protecting acts into acts of eco-kindness.
But first, one quick tip: only bother shredding documents that contain your personal information. Everything else (inserts, envelopes, direct mail, etc) should just go into your plain-paper recycling. This saves you time and reduces the amount of electricity your shredder will use.
Okay, here we go:
1. Check with your local recycling center. Many locations will accept shredded paper if you follow a few rules about how you give it to them. So give them a call or stop on by.
2. Do you garden? Thin layers of paper can help as fertilizer, or to protect seeds from hungry birds. Just be sure not to shred coated (glossy) papers or those envelopes with cellophane windows. Those aren't biodegradable.
3. Do you compost? Worms love paper! Just don't overwhelm them; a little bit goes a long way.
4. Got pets? Add some paper to your cat's litter box. Or sew up an old t-shirt, fill it with shredding and make a comfy doggie bed!
5. Donate it! Your local animal shelter might want your shredded paper for a variety of bedding or litter needs, so give them a call. (And take over a bag of food while you're at it. Budgets are tight and your shelter probably has an abundance of hungry animals.)
6. Use the shreddings as padding when you mail something. This isn't 100% fair, as it means the dude on the other end may need to find a way to dispose of your paper, but it does let you avoid buying Styrofoam peanuts. It also gives your paper at least one additional use in its life-cycle, so I'll allow it.
7. Crafts! You can use all of this paper to, um... okay, I'll admit it, I'm not crafty. But if you have ideas, post 'em in the comments!