Shredding old documents takes care of confidential information getting into the wrong hands, but it leaves you with bags of shredded paper to dispose of. While recycling it through your city's recycle program is a viable option in some areas, not all recycling centers accept shredded paper because it's small fibers tend to gum up machines used for paper recycling, says My Zero Waste. That means you will need to be creative in finding ways to reuse the shredded paper you produce. Use these ideas to get you started, but don't be afraid to come up with some of your own.
Adding shredded paper to your compost bin lets you turn your shredded documents into humus-rich earth for your gardening needs. But, not all paper is suitable for the compost pile. Glossy or waxed paper and paper with heavy colored inks are not suitable for the compost bin as they contain too many chemicals. Likewise, the plastic windows from envelopes and old thermal receipts don't belong in your compost pile. If you intend to use your shredded paper for making compost, separate the paper before your shred it. Add shredded paper to your compost bin with other dry ingredients, such as leaves and straw, and turn it often to keep the pile composting.
If you are a frequent shipper, or run a business that customarily ships out products, save your shredded paper as packing material. Not only does it use up your shredded paper, it's a more ecological solution than packing peanuts and bubble wrap and is absolutely free. If you rarely ship items, consider donating your shredded paper to someone who can use it for shipping. You will be doing them a favor and getting the paper off your hands at the same time.
If you are the crafty sort, or have young children in your home, you already know how popular paper mache is for making crafts and science fair projects. Using shredded paper saves you the time of tearing newspapers into strips and makes a sturdy paper mache. Simply soak the shredded paper in a mixture of one part white craft glue to one part water until they are soft and pliable. Squeeze out the excess water and form the base of your project with the doughy mixture. Allow it to dry thoroughly and paint it in the desired color. If you don't have children at home and aren't into crafts, consider donating your shredded paper to a school for art projects.
This project fascinates kids, but you don't need to be a kid to enjoy it. Making new paper from shredded paper creates one-of-a-kind paper ideal for crafts or as your own designer stationary. You will need a shallow, flat basin or baking pan and a frame with a screen that is slightly smaller than the pan. Staple window screen to an old picture frame, making sure it is taut to make your own screen for paper making.
- Place approximately 1 to 2 cups of shredded paper in a bowl of warm water and let it soak for about 45 minutes, or until the paper is soft and pliable.
- Squeeze the water out of the paper with your hands and tear the paper into small pieces.
- Place the paper into the blender to fill it approximately halfway.
- Fill the blender with warm water.
- Blend to pulverize the paper. It should take about 45 seconds for the paper pulp to reach a thick, soup consistency. No bits of paper should be visible.
- Fill the basin half way with water and add the pulp from the blender.
- Mix the water and pulp until it is smooth.
- Gently slide the frame into the water so that the flat side of the screen faces downward.
- Move the frame from side to side to spread the pulp and water evenly over the screen.
- Lift the screen straight up and allow the pulp to settle on the screen as the water drips into the basin.
- Cover the paper with a soft cloth and blot it gently with a sponge to remove the excess water. Remove the cloth.
- Allow the paper to dry and peel it from the screen with your hands.
Note: If you intend to use the paper for writing, add 2 teaspoons of liquid starch to the water and pulp mixture before forming the paper. This prevents ink of bleeding into the paper when you write on it. Add 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to the water and pulp mixture to whiten your paper, if you prefer.
Try one, or all, of these projects to find your favorite way to reuse your shredded paper. Check out the site for more information.