Make that shredded paper work for you
Try as I might, I just cannot get credit card companies to stop sending us those stupid offers in the mail. What a waste of paper! Yes, I’ve signed up for the do not mail registry, but there appears to be a loophole I’m not able to break through. So I keep a shredder handy in my home office to handle all the junk mail and other confidential things we want to get rid of. That means that we have quite a bit of shredded paper I need to find uses for.
As part of our effort to reduce and eliminate our garbage service I’ve come up with 14 uses for shredded paper. Hopefully you can make use of some of these in your household too.
1. Make Fire Starters with shredded paper and old candles.
2. Use it as wood stove kindling. We add it as the base of the fire, held in place by ¼ of an egg carton or stuffed in a paper envelope. Wood kindling is placed over it and lit.
3. Make your own paper – video tutorial – Best done outside in warm weather! This is a fun and useful skill to have. It takes quite a bit of shredded paper, though, so start saving now.
4. Create a Paper-Mache bowl or basket. Mix it with glue and water, make dough and form it in something you can use: a basket, lamp etc. There are even people who make jewelry out of it. See: Instructables – Make Your Own Glue
The shortness of the paper fibers makes it perfect for this use.
To provide strength in your product put the pieces of paper in the same direction or make a massive product by letting the Paper-Mache dry and layer it with another coat of Paper-Mache.
I couldn’t find an eco-friendly way to seal the bowl, so you might want to store some wax paper to line the bowl if you are going to use it for food.
5. Recycle it into the compost bin. Equal parts of grass and shredded paper will work all by themselves, or add it in place of other carbon materials in the garden bin. Be sure it gets mixed in thoroughly; once wet, it has a tendency to mat together and suppress oxygen in the pile.
6. Use as flooring and/or for the laying boxes in the chicken house. It is cheaper than straw and it seems to last twice as long as the straw does. It is a great addition to the compost bin when you clean the nests out!!
7. As the base for a no dig veggie garden bed in place of newspaper or cardboard. Just give it a thorough wetting and it won’t go anywhere!
8. Use it at the bottom of your bean or pea trench to retain water. It retains moisture and keeps beans happy.
9. To protect newly sown seeds in the garden, cover them with a small amount of paper from the shredder.
10. Use as a mulch in the strawberry patch to keep them off the ground and as mulch where ever else it is needed. I’d say that the best use of the paper is as mulch under your shrubs and trees. Spread it out, wet it down and cover it with a bit of pine straw. The resulting Paper Mache will prevent weeds better than most other mulches and will let water and fertilizer through just fine.
11. Scare off those pesky birds, stuff a scarecrow.
12. Make paper logs with this handy tool.
13. Use as a bedding base for your worm compost bin.
14. Make seed starters out of shredded paper pulp. I haven’t tried this one yet, but what a fantastic idea! I imagine that they work just like toilet paper roll seed starters and would prove to be sturdier. Find a tutorial here:
Don’t just use any kind of paper
There are a few kinds of paper that you want to keep OUT of your garden because they do not break down easily, or may contain harmful chemicals. Just sort the glossy paper, and that pesky envelope plastic, out of your shredding paper. It can be included in the things you will burn but not in your garden or compost.
After doing my research, I’ve decided that shredded paper should be considered an asset, rather than a liability on the homestead. There are so many eco-friendly uses for it, that it seems a shame to send it to the recycling center instead of benefiting my home.