If you don’t have the option of recycling paper products, adding shredded paper to compost is an effective and easy way to add a carbon rich material to the compost pile or compost bin.
The easiest way to shred the paper is to use a paper shredder. Paper shredders have always been the domain of offices and office equipment but now they can be bought very cheaply at paper supply or stationery supplies stores for use at home.
Add the paper to the compost just as you would other compost materials, so don’t load up the compost bin with a huge pile of paper or you will end up with a gluggy mess. Layer the paper with other compost materials.
Can you do the balancing act?
Add some ‘greens’ or nitrogen rich material to provide a balance and enable the composting process to work efficiently. For many home composters, who often use the cold method of composting and have a pile that is being constantly added to, it’s important to keep the carbon/ nitrogen balance.
The best way to do this is to alternate a layer of greens and a layer of browns. Bearing in mind that people tend to add kitchen scraps to the pile quite frequently it is a good idea to have some brown or carbon rich materials ready for adding to the pile. Some shredded paper and raked dried leaves are good for this purpose.
Personal document disposal
Adding shredded paper to the compost pile or compost bin is also an ideal way to dispose of any documents with personal or sensitive details that need to be destroyed. This is something we all need to be aware of and shredding documents and then composting solves the problem of what to do with such documents and also adds value to the compost pile by adding ‘browns.’
Shredded paper makes an ideal bedding material to use in worm farms. I doubt the worms can read the writing on the shredded paper. and although I have had no experience with the following suggestion it is apparently also good a substitute for kitty litter.
If you have questions or concerns about composting and the dyes and inks used in making paper read Composting Paper.
How I use the paper shredder
I have been doing this for a few years now and this is my method.
As I come across documents that I want to shred I put them into a shopping carry bag which just sits in my office.
When it is reasonably full I make a trip to the shed where the shredder is located. The shed is close to the compost bin so it made sense to put have it there (always trying to make life a bit easier).
Something I have noticed with the shredder that I use, is that it doesn’t like too many pieces of paper at once and will jam if I try to push through too much paper.
It saves time to just put each sheet through separately and it then just gobbles up the paper.
When the shredder machine has reached storage capacity I tip it all into a big rubbish bag and continue.
It’s a bit like washing, sometimes there’s a lot and sometimes it’s just a small load.
I have found it to be extremely beneficial as we compost a lot of kitchen waste which often means that the bin can tend to be too wet.