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5 Secure Alternatives to Shredding Paper Documents

Did you know that computer printers put tracking codes on your documents — and have been doing so for years?

Modern technology sometimes seems to put privacy further and further out of reach. However, it is possible to destroy your most sensitive paper documents, so no one can use the printer codes and confidential information on them against you. 

Don’t have a shredder? Don’t worry — we’ve put together some of the best alternatives to shredding paper here. Keep reading to learn how to dispose of documents without a shredder!

1. Burning

Burning documents isn’t the most efficient way to get rid of physical documents (find more information here about destroying virtual documents). However, if you build a regular fire, adding your paper documents to it will destroy them for good.

A fire built of paper alone often doesn’t burn well, because the sheets of paper don’t have enough air in between them to get the fire going. It’s also too easy for a single sheet of paper to get caught and blown away before all the information on it burns up.

However, if you have a woodstove or firepit, you can tuck your sensitive documents into the spaces between the wood, where they’ll burn quickly and easily.

2. Pulping

Pulping is a fairly labor-intensive, but highly effective way to get rid of old sensitive documents.

For this method, you’ll need bleach and a tall, bleach-resistant trash can. Add a half gallon of bleach to the trash can. Bleach breaks down paper and destroys ink, so it’s great for rendering your documents unreadable. However, be careful while handling bleach — don’t let it touch your skin, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Next, add five gallons of water to the trash can. Add your documents to the diluted bleach mix, and make sure they’re completely submerged. If you have a large volume of paper, you might need to work in batches or add more bleach and water.

Since you can’t touch the bleach, push the documents into the water with a long stick or another implement, or wear gloves. 

Now, let the whole mix sit for 24 hours. After the time has passed, use an electric mixer like a paint turbine mixer to mix the paper into a pulp. Check the mix to make sure every piece gets thoroughly blended.

Your documents should now be totally destroyed. However, you might need to lay the pulp out to dry before you can put it in your trash for pickup. You can also compost the paper pulp.

3. Hiring a Shredding Service

If you’re happy with the results of shredding, but just don’t have the means to do it yourself, you can also hire a paper shredding service. Although this isn’t a perfectly secure option, it requires a lot less work on your part. 

These companies send agents to pick up the documents, and take care of the shredding work for you. They also promise privacy, of course — otherwise, no one would hire them.

4. Washing

If you’ve even accidentally let an important piece of paper go through the washing machine, you’ll know how destructive those machines can be on paper. Try putting your sensitive documents in a stocking or lingerie bag, and putting them in with the wash.

5. Censoring

Sometimes, you don’t need to destroy entire documents to protect your information. If there’s only a little bit of confidential information on a document, consider censoring it by blacking it out with a marker. You could also use a hole punch to destroy the part of the paper with your sensitive information on it.

6. Recycling

If you have lots of documents that you need to destroy, consider personally taking them to your recycling center. There, you can put them all in the bins for destruction. 

Although your papers won’t get destroyed right away there, they will be mixed with lots of other papers from other people, making it harder for someone to target you. Also, anyone who wanted to steal information would first have to break into the recycling center to get it. If your paper falls inside to the bottom of the bin, any thief would have to climb all the way inside to get it, making the task very difficult.

7. Mulching

If you have a garden, you can mulch your documents. Put them in a wood chipper to destroy the paper, and add them to your compost or yard waste to make a valuable mulch that will help your garden thrive.

8. Composting 

You can also add your paper documents to the compost, whether you plan to add it to your garden or let the city take it away. Just tear the paper into tiny pieces by hand, and let it get mixed up in the compost bin. 

9. Visiting the Store

Many stores that offer mailing services, such as UPS and FedEx locations, also offer paper shredding services. They can help you destroy small or large volumes of documents if you don’t have a shredder at home.

The service does cost a bit of money, but it’s not much compared to the cost of buying your own shredder.

10. Damaging With Acid

If you really want to be sure that no one can ever read those documents, pick up some muriatic acid. You’ll also need safety goggles, rubber gloves, and a large (plastic, not metal) bucket.

Put the paper in the bucket, and with gloves and goggles on, put muriatic acid over it. The paper will get destroyed, but you’ll need to dispose of it at a toxic waste site, so this isn’t the most convenient option.

Ready to Try These Alternatives to Shredding Paper?

Whether it’s for personal or business reasons, alternatives to shredding paper can help you keep things secure while saving money. Paper shredders cost a lot and tend to break down frequently. With these tips, you can keep your information private at a lower cost.

Looking for more ways to save money? Check out our money-saving business tips here.