How to destroy documents without a paper shredder. Embassy recommended.
How to Dispose of Paper
Whether you’re dealing with stacks of old magazines and newspapers, heaps of junk mail, or documents with sensitive information on them, it’s safe to say that paper is most likely cluttering up your home! People often don’t think about how they can get rid of the paper clutter, or they worry about doing it because of the prevalence of identity theft. However, there are multiple options for safely disposing of unwanted papers and documents that will help you reduce clutter while protecting your privacy and helping the environment.
Buy a paper shredder.Paper shredders come in a variety of shapes, sizes and qualities. In general, the most effective shredders are usually those with the higher price tags. These also tend to be able to shred a higher volume of paper more efficiently. Which shredder you choose entirely depends on your needs. Any office supply store will carry a range of shredders for both home and office use.
- If you are shredding large amounts of paper, get the best shredder that you can afford. Low priced shredders tend to only allow you to shred one or two documents at a time, feeding them in slowly by hand. If you have a lot of paper to shred, this could take a very long time.
- If you are shredding documents with highly private or sensitive information, don’t opt for the cheapest shredder solution. A mid-priced home or office shredder is your best bet. This is because the cheaper the shredder, the less effective the shredding mechanism actually is. It may shred in fairly large strips; you’d want to get something higher quality to destroy your sensitive documents.
Investigate document destruction services.If you don’t want to invest in a shredder, or if the amount you have to shred is very large, there are companies that specialize in document disposal.The cost is relatively low, and it’s common for these businesses to allow you to watch your documents being shredded, for your own peace of mind.
- Do a quick Google search for your local document destruction agencies – in most cities, you’ll have multiple options and a range of prices and services. Choose what suits your situation best.
- In many cases, document disposal agencies will come to you and shred on-site. This is an especially popular choice for small businesses and those in a corporate setting.
- If you are disposing of paper on a regular basis, document destruction agencies offer regularly scheduled services.
- Most of these companies will provide you with a Certificate of Destruction after each service, providing you with even more peace of mind.
- If privacy protection is your main motivation for disposing of paper, don’t forget to consider any old hard drives you might have in your home or office. Many of these companies also offer destruction services for a variety of media.
Shred the paper using a shredder.Follow the instruction manual carefully. Shredders can jam up very easily if you try to pass through too many documents at once.
- Check the volume your shredder can handle. Smaller machines can only shred around 5 documents at one time. Bigger machines can handle a lot more. Be sure not to exceed your machine’s shredding capacity.
- Also check your machine’s manual for items that shouldn’t be shredded. Some of the smaller home machines will jam if you try to shred an envelope with a plastic window. Other machines can easily shred plastic windows, staples, paper clips and even credit cards.
- If you do exceed capacity or shred the wrong item and end up with a paper jam, all standard machines are equipped with a reverse mode that allows you to remove the jam easily.
- After you are finished with your shredding, don’t forget to turn the machine off. Leaving it on for excessive amounts of time can overheat its motor.
- Shredders need to be oiled on a regular basis to keep them working optimally.Many machines provide a small bottle of this when you purchase it. If yours didn’t, you can easily pick this up at any office supply store.
- To oil the machine, drizzle a small amount of the lubricant through the machine’s feed opening and run your shredder in reverse mode for about 60 seconds. Then switch it back to normal mode and pass a few papers through to absorb any excess oil.
Shred the paper by hand.You probably only want to do this if you have a relatively small amount of paper to dispose of, as this method can be rather time-consuming. It’s generally not a recommended way to dispose of documents that contain sensitive information. If you do choose this method, make sure you do tear the paper into very small pieces.
- Tear the paper into six to eight vertical strips. Then take those strips and tear them into pieces no larger than one inch. Anything larger will be a security risk.
- After you complete your task, store the paper in a bag somewhere safe, such as a locked closet or office, until you can recycle it.
Recycle the shredded material.After paper is shredded, it is still viable for recycling and there is no security risk in doing this.If the amount of shredded material will fit into your home recycling bin, its fine to put it in there. If you have a large volume of shredded material, it’s better to take it to a recycling agency yourself.
Choose a place to burn the paper.Do not burn papers in your wastepaper basket inside. This can easily get out of control and catch other things alight, leading to a serious house fire. Before burning outside, make sure you are allowed to burn paper in your city, county, or township.
- If you have one on hand, you can burn the paper in a metal barrel.
- If you have a home with a yard, you can burn your documents by digging a hole in the ground. If you choose this method, be sure to take precautionary fire measures.
- If you have a lot of documents, then a bonfire will work well.
- If you have a manageable stack, then use your barbecue grill.
- You can also purchase items which compact shredded paper into fire logs.
Burn the paper.Take every precaution possible to prevent fire risks. If burning in a metal barrel, do it in an open area on a surface such as concrete, to avoid catching the container or anything not in the bin on fire. Make sure that all the documents burn completely. If they haven’t, repeat the process until they do.
- Choose a non-windy day to burn outside.
- Always stay with a fire while it’s in progress. Never walk away from it.
- Don't burn paper that has plastic coating, magazines, colored paper, wrapping paper, or newspaper inserts. The ink used to print these materials contain metals that give off toxic fumes when burned.
- It is safe to burn documents on plain, uncoated printer paper, junk mail, envelopes (without plastic windows), and plain newspapers (with inserts removed).
- Allow the burn location to cool completely before doing anything additionally.
Sift through the debris and then discard.This is just to make doubly sure that all of the documents were burned completely.Make sure the fire has burned out completely before discarding the ashes.
Determine what is compostable.Newspapers and non-glossy paper make excellent compost material, especially in compost bins that have lots of kitchen type scraps. There are a few things to watch out for, but overall this is a great way to bulk up your compost.
- Most ink is non-toxic these days, so don’t worry about that.
- The types of paper you should avoid using in your compost are: glossy/waxy paper, magazine paper, fluorescent colored papers, paper with metallic inks and colored construction paper.
Shred or otherwise break down the paper.Composting with paper works best when shredded material is used because it breaks down more easily. Shredded material is also easier to mix into your compost pile.
Compost the paper.Stir it down into the compost heap so that it doesn’t get blown around by the wind.The dry material helps soak up the water content from the kitchen scraps and help oxygenate the pile.
- If your compost heap contains kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, the shredded paper helps to bulk up the volume of soil. This means that once the composting process is complete, you will end up with more finished compost to go around.
- Paper is almost completely carbon. A healthy compost thrives on a ratio of 25 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, so using shredded paper in your compost heap provides an excellent source of the carbon needed for a successful composting process.
- Since a lot of paper equates to a lot of carbon, be sure to balance it with plenty of nitrogen (green stuff) and keep the compost damp.
- Shredded paper may be used as bedding for worm composting, as well, if it's not glossy. Be sure to keep it moist.
Determine what papers you want to recycle.Unless shredded first, this is not a safe way to recycle private documents, because your sensitive information won’t be protected. However, if you do shred it first, it’s good to go!
Recycle the paper.Recycling is such an easy option, and the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of paper. There are several choices for recycling options, making it an even easier option!
- Google search "your city + recycling" to see where you can take your paper. This is the best option if you have a large amount to recycle.
- Most cities offer residential recycling collection, since recycling is so popular. This is the best option if you have a small amount of paper to recycle.
- Be sure to follow carefully all sorting requirements.
Make recycling a habit for you and your family.Many cities offer information and there are countless websites dedicated to ways in which you can become a better recycler. Aside from paper, you can recycle plastic, metal, glass, wood and many more.
Stop junk mail.Junk mail is the worst culprit when it comes to wasting paper and paper clutter. Most people simply accept it as a fact of life, but that’s no longer necessary. There are now non-profit companies, such as CatalogChoice, that will intervene for you and stop the junk mail. It’s a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.
Go paperless.See if your bank or utility company will stop sending you paper bills. Almost all of these companies offer paperless options these days. Get direct deposit and paperless pay stubs, if they're an option for you.
Utilize the internet.Read your favorite newspapers and magazines online. Often the websites offer articles that aren’t featured in the papers/magazines, as well as offering a host of other cool and interactive stuff. Cancel your paper subscriptions and use the internet for your information! It’s where information moves fastest – it’s like keeping your finger on the pulse of the world.
QuestionHow can I convince my headmaster to give us a day off on our birthdays?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBring this idea to the student council where they will put it to a vote. If passed, they will bring it to the headmaster and perhaps initiate this change.Thanks!
Can I bury shredded paper and a few food scraps at the bottom of a planting hole? Maybe 15" deep? Will this decay and help the plant when it is larger - next year?
If I use a home shredder, the shredded paper is put into plastic bags. What do I do with it now? My apartment complex has a trash bin for recyclables, but plastic bags are not allowed.
Video: Shredding paper without a shredder
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