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Junk Mail Can Be Useful

Stephanie Hazen | December 12, 2022

How much junk paper does the average household generate in a week?  At my household if you include packaging, advertising, magazines, envelopes, cards,  letters and receipts, my husband and I are responsible for two garbage bags per week!

A large plastic garbage bag filled with shredded paper rests in front of a paper shredder with junk mail popping out the top.

I have started using an office shredder and turning this paper material into something useful.

It is easy to mix shredded paper into the compost pile with a pitchfork.  The worms seem to eat it right along with the kitchen waste.  Added water in the summer months makes the process go faster.  The compost takes several months to look like plain dirt, so turn the pile weekly.  We keep our compost in a round metal stock tank. The lower sides are drilled for drainage, and the top is covered with hardware cloth to deter rats.

Stock tank compost bin covered with hardware cloth lid.

(Message me through MSWCD if you want worms to add to your compost pile.)

I recently gave two bags of shredded paper to a friend with a house cat. She is using it for kitty litter with success.  For a picky cat, mixing it with regular litter and gradually changing proportions is one way to wean a cat on to shredded paper litter.  Alternatively you can offer several litter boxes, some with shredded paper and some with regular litter.

A friend sells items on Etsy. She can use the shredded paper as packing material.

If you have a fire place, the shredded paper can be used as a fire starter.

Better yet, get off all those junk mailing lists. Decline getting a receipt if feasible or get an email receipt. Each piece of paper was part of a tree. You will be diverting material out of the waste stream and in our county, out of the air. Our garbage gets burned at the garbage burner in Brooks.  Our recyclable garbage travels down the highway to Corvallis.  Less garbage, less fuel spent on transport.

About the Author

a head shot of Stephanie, smiling with lips shut, frameless glasses, sporting a salt and pepper bob hair cut and wearing a purple shirt.

About the Author

Stephanie Hazen
Master Gardener, pollinator enthusiast

Stephanie Hazen, a retired veterinarian, has lived in Salem for 45 years.  A Master Gardener, she has a special interest in gardening for wildlife. Monarch butterflies and their preservation are at the top of her list.

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