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Post  claudiamedic on 5/19/2012, 5:02 pm

What are your feelings about using shredded office paper in your compost pile? I know that glossy and colored paper is a no-no, but what about black and white documents on plain paper? Like a Star @ heaven
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Post  Glove Smack on 5/19/2012, 5:27 pm

My concern would be that some office papers are treated with chemicals to look super white or neon, etc. Sometimes they have other chemical treatments or inks used on them might have a residue that you may not want. Not all inks are biodegradable. If you know for sure that the paper and ink sources are safe and consistent it might not be a problem.
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Post  floyd1440 on 5/19/2012, 7:36 pm

@claudiamedic wrote:What are your feelings about using shredded office paper in your compost pile? I know that glossy and colored paper is a no-no, but what about black and white documents on plain paper? Like a Star @ heaven

While newpaper and some others are OK, the problem is in the inkjet ink used in most offices. I have a composting book and they say no to these types of inks.

My wife could get a ton of shredded paper and I though I would be set for material but they suggest not to use it. I will reread it and get back to you later if I can only remember as to were I put the book.Shredded office paper in compost 601593
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Post  claudiamedic on 5/19/2012, 8:50 pm

I'm hurting for 'brown' in my new pile. Guess I need to subscribe to the newspaper until the fall! :scratch:
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Post  floyd1440 on 5/19/2012, 9:34 pm

@claudiamedic wrote:I'm hurting for 'brown' in my new pile. Guess I need to subscribe to the newspaper until the fall! :scratch:

Well before going that route perhaps you can find some sawdust in your area. That is a "brown" material and is very high in carbon, around 500 to 1.

Browns are hard to find this time of year........
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Post  claudiamedic on 5/19/2012, 9:46 pm

Mmmm... thinking wonder where I could get some sawdust....gotta do something though. I've got a couple of weeks of "green" that are starting to smell less-than-fresh! LOL. My son would love to get the newspaper (he's autistic and thinks the feel of the paper is wonderful), but I'd rather just get some old ones for FREE!! LOL. He doesn't care if the news is "new", nor does the compost pile!

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Post  sceleste54 on 5/19/2012, 9:51 pm

I have been occasionally bringing a bag of shreds home from the office and composting them. I've used this compost in my beds with no ill effects. The earthworms really love it, they show up in the compost bin before the paper shreds even begin to break down, and they have continued to look robust and healthy. Judging from all the tiny baby earthworms in my compost it must not have any ill effects on them...I'll continue to use it in moderation. Smile
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Post  memart1 on 5/19/2012, 9:55 pm

Years ago my husband had a sawmill. One customer used to come every spring for a few pick-up loads of sawdust. This was before SFG, but he would put newspaper between the rows and hold it down with the sawdust. This would keep the weeds down, and throughout the summer they would both begin to compost. After harvest he would roto-till it into his garden, and by spring it would have disappeared into his garden. He had some beautiful crops. The sawdust was mostly pine and red oak with a little occasional poplar. At that time (the late 60's) we had a pile of sawdust about 20 feet high. I wish I had it now, LOL
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Post  Unmutual on 5/19/2012, 11:06 pm

I'm not sure exactly why using glossy, colored, etc. paper is bad. I know it's something to do with the chemicals, but I've just not seen any real documentation except for DON'T USE IT! I'd really like to know the science behind it. The book that I got with my worm compost bin says it's okay to use junk mail and glossy paper with the worms. But again, no real documentation to back that up either.

I'm wondering if the reason to not use glossy or colored paper is the same thing as people not wanting to use pressure treated wood(which is pretty safe these days) and why some people are afraid of vermiculite (as per the ANSFG book) because of asbestos in one mine that was shut down.

But if I'm going to throw my 2 cents in, I will say this: I use glossy paper for composting all the time(worm, compost pile and with sheet mulching).
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Post  TN_GARDENER on 5/20/2012, 7:18 am

Shredded paper is fine

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Post  camprn on 5/20/2012, 7:23 am

I have added a bit of shredded paper to my piles. What I added was usually white, chopped and not ribbons of paper.

Here is a thread from another garden forum about the same subject. There are a few links to informational sources in the thread.
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg0107183324963.html


Last edited by camprn on 5/20/2012, 7:32 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link)

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Post  RoOsTeR on 5/20/2012, 8:31 am

@Unmutual wrote:I'm not sure exactly why using glossy, colored, etc. paper is bad. I know it's something to do with the chemicals, but I've just not seen any real documentation except for DON'T USE IT! I'd really like to know the science behind it. The book that I got with my worm compost bin says it's okay to use junk mail and glossy paper with the worms. But again, no real documentation to back that up either.

I'm wondering if the reason to not use glossy or colored paper is the same thing as people not wanting to use pressure treated wood(which is pretty safe these days) and why some people are afraid of vermiculite (as per the ANSFG book) because of asbestos in one mine that was shut down.

But if I'm going to throw my 2 cents in, I will say this: I use glossy paper for composting all the time(worm, compost pile and with sheet mulching).

+1 Unmutual. I've used the paper from our shredder in my piles and never given it a second thought. I've always read about adding shredded paper and "junk mail" to the heap. After this thread popped up I did some searching and I've found nothing substantial or any concrete evidence that using such materials is harmful. Of course that can be said for other items as well, so I guess it all comes down to personal choice. Personally, I've got no problems using shredded paper in my compost and will continue to do so.
I'll also add that if you're purchasing "commercial" compost, you're potentially subjecting yourself to harsher things added to the compost heap than a small amount of ink toner or neon paper...just my .02

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Post  GWN on 5/20/2012, 10:33 am

I have the book "the complete composting guide" by Barbara Pleasant (she is one of the main writers for mother earth news) She brings up several very good points about this topic.
First of all she says that one SHOULD recycle newspapers since very few resources are required to make old newsprint into newsprint again.
That is if it is easy to recycle them
But this all involves personal decisions about the recycling concept.
With regards to "what is safe"
SHe says that the age of lead based ink is over, and most printing is with soy based inks.
Laser printers and photocopiers use toner rather than ink, which contains plastics or waxes. THe residual effects of toner to the soil are unknown, however she points out that the soil is active with fungi and bacteria which do an amazing job of breaking down man mad chemicals.
Glossy magasine pages often get their sheen from clay based materials which are biodegradable, and usually safe to put in composts.
She also points out that all of these things are far from natural, though, no harmful effects have been seen.

Where we work we produce quite a bit of shredded paper and I have found a few cool things about it.
One... I have used it in trying to create my HOT compost, and have used it as one layer, and when I take down the compost to turn it over, the layer of shredded paper is the hottest.
Second I am experimenting with using shredded paper as my weed block. I lay it down quite heavy and then water it lots and then stomp it down, it is a bit like paper mache
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Post  claudiamedic on 5/20/2012, 11:14 am

Great discussion! Thanks for the thoughts. Keep them coming. I'm thinking that there is not much I can put in my garden than will be worse than the pesticides and herbicides that are put on industrial veggies. I don't want to be cavalier, but I am trying to keep stuff in some perspective. thinking
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Post  floyd1440 on 5/20/2012, 12:37 pm

I have the same book as well and she seems to lean on recycling rather than using some paper in composting but if you are in a bind I would use it.

Others have made great points that some comercial compost could have far worse elements than what you are putting in.

Anybody use that aerating tool???Shocked
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Post  claudiamedic on 5/20/2012, 12:50 pm

@camprn, thank you for the link to the other forum! Great info there. cheers
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