A paper shredder is one the best ways to deal with the unwanted flyers and credit card offers that consistently plague your mailbox. However, when your paper shredder is full, don’t just empty it in the trash! You may not realize it, but you can use shredded paper in many useful ways. Some of these ways even save you money and time.
For The Garden
Shredded paper has a number of great application for your landscape and plant health. You can:
- mix shredded paper in with your compost. The paper will decompose with everything else and help better distribute oxygen throughout your pile, improving the quality of the final product.
- use the paper as a weed barrier in your flower beds. The next time you plant your flowers, lay a thick layer of shredded paper down before filling in the soil. The paper allows the root of your plants to grow well, but as the paper becomes wet, it prevents weed seeds from taking root, or growing up from existing roots.
- as a growth starter for seeds. Beans, peas, and watermelon will benefit from paper’s ability to hold moisture. You can mix it with potting soil to help give seeds a good start, or forgo the soil altogether when you start your seeds indoors before planting them outside.
- use the shredded material in place of sawdust for keeping your strawberries and squash in good health. Strawberries tend to rot if they touch the ground, so a layer of paper will keep your strawberries safe as they ripen.
- as an insulating mulch for your trees and shrubs. A thick layer of paper will matte when wet, and the high water content will help maintain the temperature of the ground, protecting plant roots from sudden temperature changes in winter.
Adding paper to your garden soil also makes great food for earthworms. Worms are known to help improve your soil quality.
For Your Pets
Do you have chickens, goats, or other small farm animals? You can bed their living space with paper instead of straw. Paper holds more moisture, and may even do a better job protecting the floor than straw will. Save yourself some money on the next bale by using something you already have on hand.
You can also use shredded paper for caged animals, such as rabbits or hamsters. Just use it how you would use wood shavings, and clean it every once in a while to keep the cage clean and healthy for your pets.
And, last but not least, in order to help your kitty litter go a little further, fill 50% of the box with paper, and use your regular litter for the rest.
For The Fire
Paper burns really easily, so if you have a wood stove, you can make kindling sticks and fire-logs with paper waste. Follow these steps to make your own:
- Mix the paper with grass clippings and other organic waste, like leaves or wood chips.
- Slightly moisten the mixture to make sure you can get a firm pack.
- Stuff the mixture into a flammable container, such as a cardboard oatmeal container, an empty paper towel roll, or something similar. Pack the mixture as tightly as possible.
- Place the rolls in the sun or another warm place to help them dry out.
- Store in safe place and use the next time you need a fire starter.
These are also great to take with you when camping, or when having a fire in your backyard.
Shredding your documents and junk mail not only protects your personal information, but it provides a useful by-product that has far more practical uses than simply taking up space in your trash can. Save your shredded paper to improve your plant health and cut some cost for animal care. If you don’t have your own paper shredder, go to websites to learn about paper shredding options near you.