As a dedicated paperless office enthusiast, you will have already availed yourself of the shiniest paper shredder that money can buy; one that can decimate even the most oppressive piles of paperwork to a respectable container of shredded goodness. As the shredder reaches its capacity, one is left with a question:
OK, I shredded, now what?
If we’re not careful, we can undo all of the karmic benefits of your paperless office. Recycling is obviously the key, but recycling can mean more than just sticking it in a bag to be collected at 5AM on Thursday morning. Recycling is another word for reuse, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the uses for shredded paper.
Do you have an open fire? Do you camp? Shredded paper makes for good kindling and that’s not all; my Father-in-law has one of these wonderful gizmos – a Log Maker. This particular one is make by a British company, but I dare say they’re available over the pond.
The log maker uses a sheet or two of standard newspaper to form the outer layer of the log, then you stuff it full of your shredded paper, then pack it down with the plunger. The more tightly you pack it, the more slowly it will burn. It won’t burn for as long as a wood log, but it’s free, and as far as recycling goes, it certainly beats land-fill.
There’s no reason you can’t produce and store these all year round, and roll them out during Winter. Even if you don’t have an open fire yourself, maybe you know of someone for whom heating a home in winter is a struggle – combining recycling and charity has to be a good thing!
How’s your eBay account looking? If it’s anything like ours, it’s a constant struggle to find ways and means of packaging things. Shredded paper makes for great packing material. If you do a lot of eBaying, maybe even run your own eBay business, keeping your shredded paper is a good way to save on buying “proper” packing material.
If you don’t pimp your wares on eBay, maybe you know someone who does. It may also be worth offering it on a local recycling scheme, we use Freecycle for instance.
Think of the animals!
Our home is currently bereft of non-Human mammals, but this won’t last. The boys (3 and 5) are already asking for rabbits, guniea pigs and dinosaurs. Providing you’re careful about what you throw in to your shredder, shredded paper makes great bedding for animals. This means taking out staples before you shred, no credit cards etc.
It’s not limited to small and furry animals either – I’ve heard of it being used for horses too. Again, big refuse sacks full of shredded paper are good to give away to pet owners if you’re no Dolittle. Local animal shelters may also be worth contacting.
Think of the children!
We have 3 (soon to be 4) kids. We learned very quickly that the secret to a peaceful life was keeping them all occupied, all the time. Crafts are a fantastic way to keep kids busy, the messier the better (from their point of view at least). Shredded paper offers some fun alternatives to arguing over who’s turn it is with Thomas the Tank Engine.
Here are some ideas for little (and not so little) kids amongst you:
Think of the Rhododendrons!
Home composting is one of the less common uses for shredded paper. It is often viewed as problematic because of the need to watch what you put in your shredder. Glossy paper, for example, doesn’t compost well. But if you can keep the compost-unfriendly paper types out of the shredder (perhaps shredding in batches) then it can be a good friend to the gardeners amongst you.
If mixed with other wet composting materials like grass, it will happily assist in the composting process in your compost bin. Your can also put a layer of soil and shredded paper at the bottom of pots to assist in drainage. If your soil is quite fine, you might also want to consider simply digging amounts of shredded paper into your beds as you turn the soil.
So, whilst paperwork is a bind, it can also be a source of positive things. Have you got any novel ideas for using shredded paper? I’d love to hear them.
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