While shredding private documents at home is a popular practice, it is an unwelcome guest in the recycling bin. Shredded paper is too small to sort traditionally, and the pieces often fall through the cracks of the sorting machines, potentially contaminating other materials such as plastic and glass.
The best solution to the shredded paper dilemma is to avoid shredding paper all together. The ink is removed during the recycling process of whole sheets of paper. But if you’re not comfortable simply marking out private information with a black permanent marker before recycling it in your bin. Or shred only the sections that hold private information and recycle the rest as whole sheets of paper.
And don’t forget, Ontario County offers free shredding events in the Spring and Fall to help you shred and dispose of your papers safely. To sign up for alerts on these events, simply click here!
However, if you prefer shredding the papers yourself, be sure to keep it out of your recycling bin, and find other ways to utilize it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
8 Things to Do With Shredded Paper
- Packing material for fragile items you’re storing
- Use it as bedding for small animals or donate it to an animal shelter*
- Stuff a scarecrow or kids’ costume with it
- Extend your kitty litter supply by padding the box with it before adding the litter on top
- Burn it in your fireplace or fire pit
- Compost it**
- Make your own paper
- Use it for an art project (it’s great for paper-mache!)
*Be sure to call ahead first; some organizations may only accept certain types of shredded paper, as a lot of ink on the paper can be toxic to the animals (ex: Newspaper)
** Mix 2 parts paper with 1 part grass in a home compost pile, or Layer with food scraps and yard clippings in a curbside food/yard waste cart.