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T-Wad last updated 04/07/01

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T I G H T W A D   T O O L S 

SHREDDED SAVINGS:  Shred Junk Mail for Savings and Satisfaction!

shred4.gif (32030 bytes)SHRED YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!

Shred your way through junk mail, old papers, and torn envelopes and make yourself gift basket stuffing, packing material, animal bedding and biodegradable back yard mulch.

It started as a joke. I guess I was a little too secretive with my projects and my wife just couldn’t resist nailing me for it. She’s such a cut up! It started with a $19.95 heavy duty personal paper shredder that she purchased on sale from a discount office store. Little did she know what she got her husband into, because this little shredder has become a part of my daily routine.

I started my shredding adventure with the shredder’s own gift wrapping. As I worked into a shredding frenzy, I began to pursue my most hated enemy. Junk Mail. Now for years, I have tried to eliminate the tons of unsolicited advertisements, catalogs, and flyers that are crammed into my tiny mail box. I have called the companies using their toll free phone numbers. I have put "returned to sender" with a "remove address" note on thousands of flyers. (See: Junk mail FAQ's & Direct Marketing Assn.) I have contacted corporate offices, and called mailing list distributors. Nothing really seems to work. Until now. Now... I say bring on the junk mail!!!

Every day I go through my mail and toss the envelopes and paper into the shredder. After checking the catalogs, I rip the pages and feed them to the shredder. For security reasons, I separate any personal information with account numbers to a normal trash can and the rest I shred into a separate shredder bin. After a few days of collecting material, I compact and bag it in recycled plastic bags, ready for use when I need it.

Initially, it became very clear to me that paper junk plays an overwhelming role in the totality of my household waste. After about one week, I was shocked at how much shredded material I had collected, which begged the question: What do I do with the material?

shred2.gif (16949 bytes)Shredded paper has a ton of uses. Since I have been selling a great many items via the mail, I use most of my shredded material as packing material. If I have an especially fragile item, I wrap it in bubble wrap and pack it in boxes with shredding. Shredded paper has a nice density for packing material and has worked perfectly for me, with no complaints from consumers. Instead of using the poly foam, I now use shredded paper almost entirely. It costs nothing, and I can always make more if I need some. If you use a combination of thin paper and dense card stock, you’ll find a very nice packing strength. I separate different types of shredded material, and use the most diverse for packing material. When I have plenty, I save plastic bags full of the material for later use, and I always keep a bag near the fireplace as fire starter fuel.

Shredded paper is also an excellent source of animal bedding. Paper insulates against cold weather and absorbs liquids and waste. Instead of using the traditional cedar wood shavings try using shredded paper. If you are concerned about animal odors, try a gently spray of any kind of fragrant oil onto the paper. Cinnamon, peppermint, clove, vanilla, or eucalyptus oils can be used. You can also try a light spray of lemon juice, citrus cleaner, or pine oil. Many animals really love the paper. I suggest using thin papers such as newspaper. Color catalogs are not the most absorbent, so save most of those for your packing material. After the animal bedding is used, scoop it into your compost bin.

Gift basketsift baskets are the newest thing for busy people. You can make them in advance and have them ready for wedding gifts or at Christmas time or any other occasion. One of the most beautiful baskets that I ever saw, used a bed of multi colored shredded paper among the gifts. Finally! I found a use for the colored paper that my work place tossed into the trash. By shredding a ream of useless orange paper, I made an excellent bright bed for gift baskets. An alternative for colored paper is the shredded Sunday color comic pages or shredded brown paper bags. This material looks even better if you shred it into a small container that forces it to compact. Compacting the material into a small container while the machine shreds, produces a folded spring-like look to the paper. This works well for unexpected care packages for family, friends, or lonely college students also.

When I started to overflow with shredded paper, I tested itís use as backyard mulch material. Because the paper material is inherently biodegradable, it does breakdown with the elements, such as sunlight, moisture, and bacteria. You need to monitor what you shred if you use it for mulch. Some materials like plastics and cellophane envelope windows do not breakdown well. In addition, some catalog inks may not be recyclable, although many printers are now using soy based biodegradable inks. Newspapers break down fast, but all the shredded paper is subject to a low flash point for fire. In addition, the shredded paper seems to stay on the ground, due to the fact that it intertwines together, but birds and squirrels seem to love the stuff for their nests. The most appropriate use seems to be as an excellent compost additive. If you breed worms, as many people with compost and recycling gardens tend to do, this is an excellent material that worms go crazy about. Just add some dirt, water, and table scraps.  (See worm stuff: The Burrow  Supplies  Happy-D-Ranch See compost info at: Home Depot).

As a craft supply, shredded paper can be used as paper mache. Make a simple paste from flour and water. Use equal parts of flour and water. One cup of each ingredient makes about two cups of paste. Saturate the paper strips, preferably newspaper, and cover molds, such as plastic liter soda bottles, or inflated balloons. Make PiŮatas or little animals. Make eyes with buttons or Ping-Pong ball halves, legs with golf pencils, golf tees, or folded cardboard. Decorate with acrylic or poster paint. Be creative. Take a look at these sites for help: paper mache' tips
One tightwad reader uses a blender, some water, and shredded paper to make ready-to-press home-made paper or paper mache' mulch.

f you have other creative uses for shredded paper, please let me know. Iím always looking for new ways that people can shred their way to success.  (See: officedepot.com   officemax.com or staples.com for places to buy shredders.)  - R.James

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