I don’t need to tell you that you should be shredding all of the junk mail credit card applications and everything else that has personal info on it before you throw it out. You already know it! But hey, not everyone does something just because they know they should. So, if you’re not shredding your sensitive papers before throwing them out… consider this your kick in the butt to get a cross-cut paper shredder and get shredding!
(Before I had a shredder, we lived in a house heated by a woodstove. I would burn all of my junk mail!)
How to Shred Stuff for Cheap (or Free!)
Craigslist/Freecycle: These are great services for getting free stuff anyway, and a paper shredder is a perfect example of something you can get for free or cheap on one of these services. In fact, there was a free paper shredder listed just this Saturday on my local Freecycle mailing list. So you’ve go no reason not to look there!
Ask a Friend: In college, whenever I would off-handedly mention that I needed to buy a paper shredder, a friend of mine would just offer to let me use his. I think he underestimated the vast pile of stuff I had saved up to shred! But still, why not take advantage of such an offer while it’s on the table? If you feel like you’re taking advantage of your friend, just use their shredder to shred your most threatening documents.
Shredding Events: Keep your sensitive papers for shredding in a secure place (away from the prying eyes of roommates and dubious guests-of-roommates), and find out when there’s going to be a free, public shredding event in your area to take it all to. Your best friend in finding one of these events is Google! Search for “[your city] shredding event” and see what comes up. You can also check the Shred-It website to see if that particular company is sponsoring an event near you soon.
Ask for One: I got my shredder as a Christmas present from my brother and his fiancÃ©e. My family has gotten pretty used to the fact that I ask for super-practical things during the holidays! But hey, my brother was able to buy the shredder with his employee discount and I was more than happy to receive it!
Just Buy One: None of the above working for ya? Don’t be a tool — go buy a shredder* and start using it. Yeah, it’s that important.
This post is a part of National Protect Your Identity Week. Be sure to check out www.ProtectYourIDNow.org and subscribe to this site to get all the ID theft prevention tips!
*Affiliate link — I get like 4% if you decide to buy the shredder and it doesn’t cost you anything more. This is not the shredder I have, but it has good reviews for the price range. The shredder I have is not available online.
Brittany Emch says
Thanks for giving me the boost to get on this issue. You’re right, it’s something that people just don’t take the time to do and it can make a huge difference just by making a conscious effort to go and do it. I would much rather take the 10 minutes of shredding identity-rich documents than have my identity stolen, thank you very much.
FYI, the web site FileStoreShred.com maintains a list of environmentally friendly paper shredding and electronics recycling events. Scores of organizations from coast to coast across the U.S.A. and Canada sponsor services where the public can shred personal papers or recycle electronics/hazardous waste for little or no cost. For most people, these events are faster and easier than trying to dispose of this stuff at home. Up until now, it was never this easy to find a shred or recycling event when you needed one, AND they’re free! You might check this out.
Jim Cornelius says
After breaking and throwing out two shredders with light use, I developed my own free document destruction process: a good long soak in a plastic bag full of warm water. Paper tends to break apart and printed inks disappear, wad and unwad the pile a few times to really pulpify it. No one will be doing anything with any of those documents after they’ve been turned into paste.
This won’t work for everyone, but I shred stuff at my office. They would probably mind if I was bringing in reams of shredding daily, but I don’t get that much mail.
We have 4 cros cut shredders in our main office and at home use our multi-fuel stove to burn our confidential personal waste. The cross cut shredded paper is used as packaing material.
Emily Dexter says
Unfortunately the only sure way to shred your documents rendering the soon to be recycled paper to pass through the “pierce and tear system,” You always get what you pay for and anyone giving their service away needs to be kept an eye on. It will take one Document truck to be knocked off before armed guards are needed. Most trucks from the big and best shredders and storeres, Cintas and Iron Mountain already have Brinks locks and massive background checks on anyone with access to sensitive materials. I’ve had my identity stolen by an employee of my insurance company. They didnt shred my personal information and needless to say they are not in business anymore.
Deborah R. Myer says
I usually burn all my mail or papers, probably because I saw in a movie if I am not wrong “Bad Boys 2” how they scanned pieces of paper from taken from a shredder and restored the paper.
But thanks for the picture it gave me a great idea to use my Reagan(my cat). He likes to chew wires so I’ll teach him chew papers.
Deb: Forensic scientists can just as easily restore paper from large chunks of ash as they can shreddings. Nothing is 100% foolproof, although for day-to-day non-criminal activity, normal burning or cross-cut shredding will do the trick.
sabri ahmad says
There are many type of paper shredder and don’t confuse with the strip-cut paper shredder. The strip-cut will only cut your paper longer but have faster performance. Only the cross-cut or confetti type shredding machine can shred your paper completely, unreadable and more secure.Select paper shredder according how you will use it, don’t just buy a $20 shredding machine to perform heavy-duty job.
Steve Morgan says
Cross cutting shredders are great for shredding personal information in paper form, but we use a large shredder for destroying computer hard drives that is much more fun to watch.
It’s amazing how many shredders we seem to pick up from both house and office clearances these days. We tested a few along the way, but they all seem to be faulty. I suppose this is the throw away society we live in.