Spring cleaning: upcycling shredded papers after taxes

Joan Fieldstone

May 5, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Design

Two things happen every April: spring gets into full swing, and we file our tax returns. When I was younger, I used to associate springtime with falling in love, but now I think about shredding paper. Very sad, I know.

Shredding paper is actually one of those ongoing projects I grapple with, but it seems to take on greater urgency when I see that I'm adding another year's worth of tax documents to the pile of banker's boxes in the closet. And if you follow this blog, you already know how tough it is for me to clean out the closet.

Every time I toss another plastic bag full of shredded paper into the trash, I wonder whether there is something more useful I could be doing with it. My waste collection company now takes paper for recycling, but not if it's shredded and bagged. So when I get junk mail, I separate any information that might identify me by removing it from the envelope, and in the case of postcards and mailers, by tearing off the part that's addressed to me. Then I shred the personal info and recycle whatever is left. You can never be too careful these days with identity theft so prevalent.

How can you upcycle shredded paper?

All these bags of shredded paper going into the trash, however, just naturally has made me wonder what else I might do with it. A few years ago I thought I might stuff pet beds with it, but discarded the idea when I realized how flammable it is.

After that brainstorm, I just went back to throwing it in the trash, feeling vaguely guilty all the while. As I went through the process of shredding and bagging more of the endless stuff again today, I decided to take a look on the Internet to see what other people do with shredded paper.

"Come on, baby, light my fire"

Lo and behold, there are numerous suggestions…and stuffing pet bedding and toys were two of them, though I still think it's a dangerous practice in case they come in contact with a space heater or flame. A better idea was to turn it into kindling for camping. You can pack it in tubes that burn easily, such as empty toilet paper rolls, another useless item I wonder what else I can do with besides letting the cats play with them.

Other suggestions included using it to pack things away -- a fabulous spring cleaning project -- and making "grass" for Easter baskets. You can also use it to make papier mache for sculpting in case you run out of real eggs for the baskets.

"In a gadda da vida, honey"

For those of you with gardens -- and of course, spring is the time for gardening as well as love -- shredded paper apparently makes great mulch, too, and even better compost.

Well, there you have it. Shredded paper is the perfect symbol of the regenerative nature of spring. It can grow your garden and -- light your fire! Maybe love is in the air, after all.

Wait until I tell you what they do with dryer lint -- but that's another season.


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