Although, you would think it would be straight forward – paper is paper, right? – recycling guidelines vary drastically state to state and country to country.
Don’t fear if your local recycling center won’t accept it. Here we have a few suggestions of other things to do with shredded paper. From garden mulch to bulking up your cats’ litter – there are lots of different ways that you can stop it going straight to landfill. Like in the re-use in most other materials you will be saving money, as well as saving the planet. It’s a win-win.
As all the keen gardeners will know, mulch is a material placed on soil that can help it retain moisture and nutrients, control weeds and insulate the roots of plants during a harsh winter. Mulch is usually organic (biodegradable) materials such as hardwood chips or inorganic (non-biodegradable) materials such as rock, stone or lava rock.
You do need to be mindful of the type of paper and type of plants in your garden – they aren’t all suited to this type of mulch. However, that being said, shredded paper is still one of the simplest DIY mulch materials around.
Keeping on the gardening theme, as well as the typical leftovers plate scrapings and vegetable ends, (certain types of) shredded paper can be added to your compost pile – nobody will be looking in there for your confidential information! Shredded paper is ideal as it breaks down quickly due to its size. As well as having a high carbon content, it also is highly absorbent – excess moisture is soaked up by the paper and avoids the pitfall of a leaky and/or smelly compost pile. It should be noted that not all papers are suitable for composting – generally speaking, glossy and waxy paper should be avoided along with magazines and paper with metallic ink. Newspapers, bills and notebook paper will work brilliantly though.
If you are new to composting and need some of the simple start-up questions answered take a look here.
Cat litter bulk
Your feline friend can also benefit from shredded paper. Although cats are all different in their litter preferences, many like the litter to be deep. Adding shredded paper to conventional litter will increase the depth. Less litter equals less cost, presenting a decent long-term saving.
We wouldn’t recommend getting rid of the cat litter completely – a shredded paper only litter tray can lead to a smelly litter tray and an unhappy cat.
In the outdoors, you can use it get the fire started – DIY kindling is a great way to use up your excess shredded paper and it can cut the cost of your camping trips too! There are a couple of options here – either stuff a toilet roll with shredded paper or pack an egg carton compartment with shredded paper and drizzle with wax until it is well covered. Both great, ecofriendly additions to your camping trip.
Shredded paper makes a great protective layer in packaging. Whether you are sending a parcel with fragile goods, moving house or storing away your Christmas ornaments till the next festive season, it can make a great alternative to the more expensive, less-easy-to-recycle bubble wrap. Your postage bill will also be minimized if you use it as parcel packing – shredded paper is extremely lightweight.
Similarly, it can be used in gift bags – it makes a great filler, giving the gift a professional but rustic look.
Give it away
Why not donate your shredded paper? If you don’t have a garden to nourish, a cat litter tray to bulk up or a parcel to pack the shredded paper may be of more use to someone else! Wildlife sanctuaries, vets and rescue shelters are good place to start, they are often looking for bedding for their animals – and shredded paper works a treat. Some places may have special requirements, such as the way it is cut or the type of paper, so check with them beforehand to see what works best for them.
The ideas we have suggested here are quite practical. But, why not get creative with your shredded paper? It’s also a great way to teach the kids about re-using materials and the environment whilst having fun! From paper clay to Easter nests, the options are only limited by your imagination! Check out craft blogs and Pinterest for inspiration.