You emailed your family and friends a link to Jill’s post on reusable wrapping paper alternatives. You wore your “Wrapping Paper Sucks!” pin everywhere you went for weeks before Christmas. Yet here you are, stuck with mounds of clawed, crushed and crumpled paper. Not to worry, below are 5 great ways to turn all that trash into shredded treasure.


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1) RECYCLE IT: Before you do anything else, check your local recycling policy because ‘used’ paper is accepted in most city recycling programs. Shredding before recycling is one option, and if you have a manual shredder, you use no electricity.

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2) COMPOST IT: Shredded paper is a great starter component for that vermicompost you always wanted to try, but which gave you the creepy crawlies. As one blog commentator wrote, “I use [shredded paper] in my worm composting bin. They love it and then the castings are great for the garden, house plants, even as a type of fertilizer for your yard.” Something to jot on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

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3) STUFF IT: When shredded, gift-wrapping paper makes a great packaging tool. This of course means you would have to save the stuff for the next time you’re snail-mailing a delicate gift cross-country to grandma. You can also use it to return that sagging bean bag chair to its original, more rounded, shape.

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4) MUSH IT: Make papier mache masks! What kid wouldn’t love his or her very own personalized mask? And it’s easier than you think. All that is required is equal parts flour, water and imagination. If the idea of a mask spooks your kid, make a papier mache bowl instead. Painted Fish Studio has a great tutorial.

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5) PET IT: When minced into tiny bits, discarded paper makes great bedding for small pets. I’ve been doing this for over a year now, and our pet bunny couldn’t be happier. It does absorb less than store-bought bedding, does not contain deodorizers and so will require more frequent changes.

If all else fails, you can go the route of this resourceful recycler: “I stuff torn pantyhose and knee highs with shredded paper, spray with Febreze [or Mrs. Meyers] and stuff this into my kids’ stinky sneakers!” But I’d suggest a quick Google search first.