How Shredding Your Documents Can be Environmentally Friendly

How Shredding Your Documents Can be Environmentally Friendly

Leading an earth-friendly lifestyle is all about making little changes. Kudos to you for deciding to take some concrete steps!

Some "green" initiatives are well-known.

Items like LED light bulbs and water conservation are topics of discussion all over the globe. But today we're shedding light on a commonly overlooked tool: Your paper shredder.

Read on to find out how using this simple tool can help your go green in your office.

How to Use a Paper Shredder for Environmentalism

Everyone knows shredding documents is great for security. But here are some ways it helps the environment, too:


Some people hoard documents with sensitive information to keep them from being misused. Instead, recycle your paper shreds.

Recycling companies can use paper shreds to make many products. Depending on the type of paper, it could be toilet paper, paper towels, paperboard, and more.

Your recycled paper shreds have a huge environmental impact. According to the University of Southern Indiana, each ton of recycled paper saves:

  • 17 trees
  • 380 gallons of oil
  • 3 cubic yards of landfill space
  • 4,000 kilowatts of energy
  • 7,000 gallons of water

Recycling paper uses less energy, less pollution, and less water than producing new paper.

Most recycling companies accept paper, but not all accept shredded paper. Shredded paper has shorter fibers, which makes it less versatile than uncut paper. Still, if you want to keep your information safe, a paper shredder is essential.

Shredded paper is considered "mixed grade" paper. Look for this term when choosing a recycling company.

Using Paper Shreds Around the House

Don't be too quick to turn over your shreds to a recycling company. They have great uses around the house, too. Bloggers have found many creative uses for shredded paper, but here are a few:

Packing Materials

For moving, shipping, or storing fragile items, paper shreds are an eco-friendly option. They're flexible enough to support and fill small crevices. They're also soft enough to absorb movement without damaging glass and porcelain.

A word of caution, though: Contain the shreds in bags. This will prevent shreds and dust from covering your items. As an added bonus, it's a great way to recycle used plastic bags.

DIY Projects

If you enjoy crafting, paper shreds are a great tool. You can use them for fun art projects. Or sprinkle them with essential oils to make a scented sachet. Send colored paper through the shredder as a base for crafty bouquets.

Colorful art projects are a great way to use shredded magazine paper and other glossy papers. Glossy material isn't biodegradable. so it has fewer ways to be recycled. But it's great for making beads, creating wall art, and more.

Paper shreds can make a great stuffing material as well. It can be great for outdoor pillows, stuffed animals, and more. If you're a crocheter, paper shreds can work well for stuffing crocheted figures.

Animal Bedding

Some lovable critters enjoy paper shreds as bedding, like chickens and rabbits. Make sure you do some research first to make sure it's appropriate for your pets. Some animals may only be able to use certain types of paper.

If you want to help animals but don't have any of your own, your shreds can still be useful. Veterinary offices and animal shelters in your area may be able to use shredded paper for their patients.

Paper Shreds for Sustainable Living

Recycled paper shreds can help with many other aspects of a sustainable lifestyle:

Fire Kindling

A wood-burning stove can be a great alternative to modern, inefficient furnaces for warmth. Paper shreds can be great fire-starters.

If you have larger amounts of shredded paper, you can make it into bricks. These bricks will last longer than loose paper in the fire, giving you more warmth.


A popular practice for people who want to live environmentally friendly is no-dig gardening. Yes, it's exactly what its name suggests. Paper shreds make a great compostable base to your soil.

If you're a fan of traditional gardening instead, paper shreds can still serve you well. They do a great job of retaining moisture in the soil.

When you plant new seeds, spread paper shreds on top of the soil. This is especially helpful for seeds that need a lot of moisture, like green beans.

Worm Bedding

If you farm worms, shredded paper can be perfect bedding material. Just make sure you use appropriate paper. For example, bleached white paper is not ideal, nor is colored newspaper.

Egg Storage

For many environmentally conscious families, raising chickens is eco-friendly and economical. But buying styrofoam egg cartons for those chickens' eggs is not. Instead, a simple small box with paper shreds can be a great alternative.

If you're hatching eggs instead of frying them, paper shreds can also insulate a hatchery. Follow safety precautions to make sure it isn't a fire hazard with your heat source.


Paper shreds are naturally biodegradable. That makes them a fantastic addition to your compost pile.

If you're composting your paper shreds, smaller is better. Use a cross-cut shredder or, better yet, a high-security shredder. These smaller pieces compost more easily. Compost the paper as "brown" waste.

Keep in mind that some types of paper aren't compostable. It won't work for glossy paper (like magazine paper). The clear plastic "windows" in some envelopes aren't compostable either.

Putting Your Paper Shreds to Good Use

Household and corporate offices alike can be easily overwhelmed by masses of unnecessary paper. When you start recognizing the impact paper has on the environment, those stacks of paper become heartbreaking.

If you want to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, your first step is to reduce your paper use. Opt for refillable cups, print on scrap paper when possible, and stick to electronic communication.

But paper can't be entirely eliminated. Shredding your used documents keeps your personal information secure while helping you protect the planet.

This article offers concrete steps to help you use your shredded paper wisely. For more paper shredding tips, explore our blog. Or, if you're ready to start shredding your own documents, shop our wide selection of shredders.