Burn, baby, burn: burning documents vs shredding

blankAlthough I try to minimize the amount of paper used in my business, I still sometimes scribble notes on scrap paper or inadvertently print out an incorrect invoice.  Previously, when I had pieces of paper with “private” data on them (including personal bank statements and the like), I always shredded them.  We hear all the time about how rampant identify has become, and it’s good to protect ourselves from those who might snoop in our recycling bin.

But when I shredded my paper, I not only used unnecessary electricity, but I also was never quite sure what the waste management people would do with that bag of shredded paper.  Would they inadvertently throw it away?  Were they really going to empty it into the paper recycling container?

blankOne of the first things I bought when I moved into Casa Verde was a chimenea.  They are so nice for creating outdoor ambiance and warming up those cool Florida winter nights.  They are also good, however, for burning documents that contain sensitive information.  No electricity needed.  I also burn things that aren’t recyclable but that I don’t want to send to the landfill, like pasteboard.

I’m not sure the exact difference in the environmental impact of burning documents versus shredding them, but this is what I’ve decided to do for now.

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that burning isn’t necessarily a good choice.  Papers and other items considered “safe” to burn may have chlorine or other ugly chemicals in them.  When burned, they release dioxins into the environment.  I am not certain whether this makes up for the added bulk in the landfill and the electricity I use running my shredder.  I burn very small amounts and only paper and paste board.  As there is no regulation against it where I live (and perhaps where you live), it is a personal choice (and careful consideration) on each individual’s part.  Read this article for opposition view on burning.


  • I have a Maroon Bellied Conure who loves to shred paper. She is only a little bigger than a cockatiel but she shredded an entire old telephone book in less than 3 days. I give her my bank statements, old credit card statements and old monthly bills to shred. The shreds also fall through grate to the bottom of her cage so she always has plenty of fresh cage liner!

  • Wow! That is incredible! I wish my cat would earn her keep in some way. (Learn to dance or talk, for instance.) If you saw my lawn right now, you’d know I could use a pet goat to keep it short. My neighbors would probably even encourage it!

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