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 Post subject: Composting Printer Paper
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:57 am 
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Hi!

I just started a compost bin, and I'm thrilled to bits about it (which is pretty hilarious since I and my family never thought I'd go anywhere near a compost bin)!

Last week, I put in newspaper, torn up pieces of cardboard, veggie and fruit food scraps, corn husks and corn cobs, hedge cuttings, broken branches, etc. as well as shredded office paper (strips only vs. cross-cut). While the food and cardboard are pretty much gone, the white shredded paper is still hanging around like a big mess...

Should I compost the office paper? Does it take a long time to compost? Is it treated with antimicrobials to prevent or to slow the rate of composting?

Thanks so much for any info. and/or insight!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:21 am 
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I only compost things that come from my yard or my dinner plate. Things that come from a factory go in my recycling bin, not my compost bin.

If I have to wonder if something toxic will completely decompose in the compost, I simply don't put it in there.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:28 am 
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You have to ask yourself a question about recycling in general: what is the best use for these various items? While the husks, cobs, and clippings are prefect for the compost bin, paper has more life in it because it can be recycled and make more paper. So while you CAN recycle paper, it really is a better idea to separate the paper and take it to your local newspaper recycle bin (they take junk mail, office paper, magazines, also).

An exception to this might be shredded documents or cardboard (like pizza boxes) that has grease on it. I've sometimes stirred shredded documents up in a bag and put them at the curb, or poured water or cooking oil into that trash with shredded statements to make them unreadable and put them at the curb. I think wetting the paper and putting it into the compost is as "secure" a way to dispose of account information as any other method. But save the sheets of printer paper and such for one more go round in the paper domain.

Paper recyclers do sort through the contents of the bins and the pizza boxes are discarded. Typically they will have some spots of oil or cheese on them, and this can not go through the pulping process successfully. So if you have pizza boxes, you might find a way to use them in the garden (I put down layers of paper or cardboard when I have a batch of mulch I need to pile somewhere in the garden - it keeps the weeds or grass underneath from growing up through the mulch if it isn't used immediately.) You'll attract pests if you stockpile greasy cardboard but if you want to compost, you could tear it up by hand (I don't know any of the household shredders that can handle corrugated), let it soak in a bucket of water over night or longer to soften it up, then mix it in with the next batch of cobs and husks. It might take longer to break down than straight organic items, but it will break down.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Thanks, EAnton and Northwesterner, for the insights!

Recycling the paper vs. composting it from a practical/purposeful reuse standpoint as well as from an aesthetic and microbial standpoint is pretty cool. The compost bin I just started will be for the lawn; but plants are plants, and soil is soil!

I did tear up the cardboard (from food products) and it seemed to do well; but I think I'll go with the recycling instead. Out of curiosity, I checked a brochure I had and it said that vermiculture is the best way to compost paper!

Since the pile is just starting (and very low), I am seriously contemplating going through and removing the white paper!!

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:53 am 
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Now that the paper is in there, you can't send it to recycling, so you might as well save the energy and leave it. But water the pile well enough to break down the pile.

If you want to grow the pile faster, you might think about picking up the bagged clippings at the curb in your neighborhood on trash day. I figure the chemicals are in the soil for the most part if they fertilized last spring with the commercial non-organic stuff, so occasionally adding grass clippings won't hurt my compost (and I do avoid the clippings at the extreme monoculture yards if I've seen the little lawn care flags in the past). I also get a lot of bagged leaves from the neighbors who are organic (but who don't do a compost pile).

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Checking with neighbors for their leaves (non-oak and magnolia - which is what we have, unfortunately - I heard they were like bricks and leather to compost...) and whether they are organic or when they last fertilized are great!

Oops...before you posted, I removed about 85%-90% of the paper from the pile this morning in about 30 minutes and just put it into the regular trash! If it will help the little microbes go at it faster without all the antimicrobal stuff on the paper, it would be worth it (especially with the heat wave evaporating water)! Thanks so much for the heads up! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:13 am 
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I will occasionally place shredded printer paper in my compost. A lot of it already has recycled content so I don't feel like I'm wasting much resource. As for *cardboard* I always line the bottom of my slop buckets (plastic coffee containers which hold the kitchen scraps until they go to the compost pile, with shredded TP and paper towel rolls and the egg containers. Helps to keep the bottoms of those containers from getting too nasty. The pile eats that stuff up and keeps it out of the trash.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:36 pm 
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Thanks for your reply!

How long does it take your shredded paper product rolls to compost?

I have to say that I'm really considering some sort of paper for the compost for the lawn, like newspaper (which is more "aesthetic"), because we have such a steady, large proportion of green-to-brown materials; and newspaper is so readily available. Since newspaper is used in vermicomposting and used under mulch or for mulch, I'm pretty curious about using it. I heard I should only use only the black and white vs. color inked pages.

I received two crates of green beans on their way out, and I dumped them between two layers of newspaper to provide some sort of balance, and to provide odor control.

Any additional thoughts, advice, or comments on experiences with newspaper in compost would be appreciated!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Onward and Upward wrote:
...How long does it take your shredded paper product rolls to compost?
...

Don't know days wise, but they are always gone even if some food scraps have not disappeared completely.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:09 pm 
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Thanks so much, Mr. Clean! Something else to consider!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:37 pm 
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I compost my paper I run through my shredder all the time,I had a problem awhile back when someone tried to steal my ID,so now I run all my stuff(junk Mail) through my shredder and then put it in the compost pile. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:32 pm 
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Hi! I used shredded paper too; but I couldn't stand the sight of all that white paper just sitting there when the other materials were happily "going the way of the earth."

I've been using newspaper, and it has worked out beautifully! My pile just evaporates!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:07 am 
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Location: California, San Joaquin Valley - home of 105* summers, foggy winters.
I compost my paper I run through my shredder all the time,I had a problem awhile back when someone tried to steal my ID,

This is what we do. We vermicompost, so the shredded paper becomes bedding and it breaks down whenever it "gets there". We mostly don't worry about the time. It's mostly about security for us.

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