How to Use Office Shreddings in Compost

Overview

For privacy sake, offices typically shred documents before disposing of the material. This keeps prying eyes from seeing confidential information. Instead of throwing the shredded paper into the trash, add it to a compost pile, which converts the material into rich garden soil. Composting involves layering materials, such as organic matter, manure and soil. When kept slightly moist and regularly turned, the pile decomposes into the soil.

Step 1

Separate paper prior to shredding, by removing slick paper or paper with colored ink from the pile destined for composting. Slick paper or paper with colored ink is not suitable for the compost pile.

Step 2

Shred the suitable paper in a paper shredder.

Step 3

Moisten the paper by spraying liberally with water. Damp paper will decompose at a quicker rate.

Step 4

Add the shredded paper to the first layer of a new compost pile, with the bottom of the first layer made up of leaves or another material, which decomposes quickly. The first layer of a compost pile is made up of organic material, and is between 6 to 8 inches deep, followed by a 1 to 2 inch layer of cow or horse manure, and a final 1 to 2 inch layer of soil.

Step 5

Add the damp, shredded paper to the center of an established pile, and turn it with a pitchfork.

Tips and Warnings

  • Paper is high in carbon; adding too much slows down the composition. According to the Cornell Waste Management Institute, the carbon to nitrogen ratio should be about 30:1.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Paper shredder

References

  • University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: Home Composting
  • Cornell Composting: Compost Physics
  • Cornell Composting: Compost Engineering
  • University of Illinois Extension: Building your Compost Pile
Keywords: composting office paper, shredded paper composting, compost pile

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.