10 Ways to Recycle, Reuse and Reduce your Shredded Paper

To shred or not to shred? That is the question.

According to the American Society of Industrial Security the answer is, “Yes”; shred the paper. It’s estimated that an annual savings of $60 billion dollars can be realized across Industrial America by just shredding the document to prevent thieves from stealing their secrets. The American family household represents only 1/3 of the $300 million dollar U.S. market.

Like many households we also own a shredder and between 8 people you can imagine the amount of shredded, cross-cut paper our household accumulates. Unfortunately most recyclers don’t accept shredded paper, why? Because it’s bad for the paper making mills and in the end just ends up as trash. So what is one to do with all this shredded paper? Bag it up and put it in the dumpsters? I think not; here are 10 eco-friendly, green ideas for recycling your shredded paper.

  1. Got rabbits? Use the shredded paper for bedding for your rabbits it’ll definitely save on the budget and you’re guaranteed an extra level of security because no thief is going to reassemble your rabbit used shredded paper. If you have other small mammals, reptiles, etc. that use bedding you can substitute it with the shredded paper you have on hand.
  2. If you have adult chickens you can use the shredded paper for the floor and nesting boxes of their coop. Some worry about the paper being too slippery or smooth and causing what’s known as Spraddle Leg. It is mainly a concern with young chicks who are just learning to get their feet under them and aren’t heavy enough to stay on top of the paper. With shredded paper there is usually enough surface deviation for them to get a good grip and you are going to clean the cage or box frequent enough that it won’t become a matted surface; right?
  3. Shipping, storing and packaging materials creates a huge landfill issue around the world. Most of the material used commercially or sold to the average household contains polystyrene or Styrofoam and of course we can’t forget the bubble wrap. The concern with all these materials is they are petroleum based and are ending up in our landfills. Why not use your shredded paper to insulate the next package you’re shipping or when packing away the winter clothes, Christmas decorations and even moving; just place shredded paper in between the items to protect them.
  4. How about the cat litter box? You can use the shredded paper in your cat litter box and control the odor. Add the shredded paper to the litter box and then pour in some sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking, soda or you can purchase odor control powder from your local pet supply. Now you’ve cut the budget, recycled the paper and kept the kitty happy.
  5. Composting in the garden but, don’t overdo it or the decomposing paper will quickly deplete the nitrogen during the decomposition process. If you have a lot of shredded paper you want to add in a small area just add a high nitrogen material such as grass clippings to offset adding the shredded paper.
  6. Mulching with shredded paper is great. Besides constructing a barrier between frigid temperatures mulching with shredded paper will help preserve the amount of watering that is needed and act as a weed impediment for your plants. You can use the shredded paper to mulch around trees, in flower beds and shrubs. Using a layering method of shredded paper about 4″ – 6″ and other organic materials will greatly increase the slow release of nutrients back into the soil as the material breaks down. 
  7. Mix a little shredded paper with your potting soil when you’re repotting. It will help retain the water, make the potting soil go a little further and recycling at the same time. 
  8. If you happen to have a worm bed they’ll love you for several reasons if you throw them some shredded paper. It will absorb any extra moisture in the colder months and hey, it’s like giving your worms dessert. Recycle Green Worm
  9. Donate it! Yeah, your local animal shelter or pet store would love to have more bedding. You’ll be helping the community, saving on their budget and giving the animals a couple of warmer nights. It’s like crawling into your bed with clean sheets for the first time. 
  10. It’s for the birds. That’s right; add some shredded paper to the birdhouses hanging around your yard.

10 Ways to Recycle Wood Ash

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle wood ashLast winter we went back to burning a wood stove. With the rise of natural gas prices and the fact that we are trimming where we can to get back to the basics, we decided to return to gathering wood in the late summer and early fall. In one season we received a $160 rebate from our natural gas company because we had over stated our account and our gas usage had dropped. That’s a pretty good trade when you consider that in our area you can obtain a wood permit for a nominal fee and collect up to 5 cords.

Now the question arises; what to do with all the ash that we are accumulating. There are many uses for the ash removed from a wood stove around your home, farm and garden. Here’s a short list:

  1. Add the ash to a compost pile to build your soil ammending properties.
  2. Directly apply the ash to your garden area to increase the potassium and raise the PH level. It would be wise to test your soil first so you aren’t raising the PH too much. If the PH level is too high you can always add limestone to “sweeten” the soil.
  3. After verifying that the ash has cooled completely, dump them inside your chicken coop or covered chicken yard for your chickens. If you can, dig a shallow pit to contain the ash for their fresh bath. Another added bonus is it’ll help control the mites.
  4. Looking for a way to melt the ice and snow left on your sidewalk or path to the chicken coop? How about spreading the ashes? There are many people who simply spread the ash on their pathways to keep everything melted off and its not harmful like salt or man made chemicals.
  5. Spread the ash around on your lawn. Here’s a blog post with pictures of one such person who did so and the results are remarkable.
  6. Save the ash to control the slugs in your flower beds in the spring. The ash is very dehydrating to the critters and works very well when mixed with hydrated lime. Be sure to wear gloves and DON’T inhale.
  7. Turn your Blue Hydrandeas to Pink. Blue Hydrangeas are caused by acidic soil, sprinkling some ash around the bush will turn them Pink.
  8. For calcium loving plants like tomatoes, you can add 1/4 cup directly to the hole when planting.
  9. You’ve heard of tomatoe juice for de-skunking your best friend, well you can also use the ash mixed with some water to neutralize the smell as well.
  10. Make a paste of ash and water to use as a metal polish; and its non-toxic!

Of course, always use caution when dealing with any hot material such as ash and coals from your fireplace or woodburning stove. You should use a metal container, preferably covered, and leave it set a day or so to make sure that the ash has cooled.