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One of my brilliant-er ideas

Here’s what I want. Say I have a few boxes of old documents I want shredded. (Easy to say. I do, in fact have four full boxes of documents of which I want rid.) Now, I can use my personal shredder, which will take many hours and destroy the shredder, forcing me to buy a new one, which I will then destroy. I can use a service, which costs a dollar a pound. For four boxes that’s over one hundred dollars, and all the shredding is done by strangers, out of my field of vision.

I don’t like either of these options.

Here’s what I suggest. If you happen to be an executive at any chain office supply store, feel free to use this idea. All I ask is free shredding for life. I should be able to take my boxes of documents into an office store. Upon hearing that I want documents shredded the cashier would hit a big red button. Yes, it can be marked “easy” if it must. Sirens would go off. A recording of Annie Potts yelling “We got one!” would reverberate around the store. On one side of the sales floor a curtain would part, revealing this machine.

Okay, not THAT machine. A smaller machine. And while I have an aside going here, why try to be funny at the beginning of a video of a piano being shredded? It’s just gilding the lily.

Anyhoo, I would then be given safety goggles, walked up some stairs and directed to slide my boxes down a chute into the machine. A mirror would let the spectators see the action, and I would personally see the tiny bits of paper coming out of the machine. Thus, I would know the documents are destroyed.

I would GLADLY pay thirty-five dollars a box for this service. Heck, give me a ten dollar store credit and I’ll probably buy another thirty bucks worth of paper on my way out, which, seven years from now, I will need to shred.

Reader Comments (23)

Why not drive out to the country somewhere and burninate them?

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJTDC

Near where I live there is an energy recovery facility where they burn trash to turn it into electricity.

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJewel

Buy a good paper shredder; one that can take 8-10 pages at a time and will easily shred tens of thousands before it's dead. It'll cost a little more, but it's really the best option if you don't have a good place to burn them.

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBWM

Flush them. But if you do that, it's worth investing in a powerful toilet.

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

$35/box for free shredding for life seems like a lot.

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter408wij

Not sure where you live, but the better business bureau and other organizations regularly sponsor/hold shred-a-thons. Usually at least once a month. They bring a large industrial shredding truck and you toss your material (box and all!) into the shredder and it grinds it into pieces.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYour #1 Fan

I may be missing something, but why not just bury the paper? Sure, you will miss the beauty of the fire, but it will be very cheap and, I believe, eco-friendly. You will have to get your hands dirty, though.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGuest

I work at a bank and we have customers who'll bring us tons of documents and ask us to shred 'em. Considering how much time it can take I'm always more than happy to do it for them.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

Some banks will let you shred documents. I know Wells Fargo does. It might be worth looking into.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCam

Those "Will It Shred" videos always have that problem, where they try to cash in on the humor of "Will It Blend" except that they don't know how to actually tell a joke, and somehow they even make things like shredding a VW beetle boring and obnoxious.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfluffy

Just do a bit at a time, for example, have them in the room where the TV is, and shred some paper during every commercial. And if you have a cat, it will think the resulting shredded papers are wonderful as toys and as stuff to lie down in. I have a shredder that does best with about 3 papers at once, and over the time that I've had it so far, it probably has done at least 4 boxes worth of papers.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKrisL

In my town there is one of those companies that shreds documents for companies. Once a month on a saturday they open the facility to us common folk and you pay $2/box and get to watch your items being shredded. I'm not sure if your town has something similar but we found about about it through our local Waste Management (garbage) company website. Just passing along a tip!

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

Line up the pages about 10 deep in your driveway. Fire up your lawnmower with a bag attachment. Use a vacuum to suck up the additional refuse if you're environmentally conscious. Otherwise, don't go back outside until after a particularly windy day.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

What a waste of a piano. I would also love to be able to shred all my old bank statements in one go though.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterandipandi

I used to work for SSI Shredding Systems - the company in the "Will It Shred" videos. Though it takes a while to shred a car, and it gets kind of boring watching it, it was still fun to watch big things go in and little bits come out. 55 gal drums full of hazardous (but non-toxic) waste were always fun. Blocks of concrete, obsolete aircraft tooling, lots and lots of paper and cardboard, recycled glass - lots and lots of things. Your 4 boxes of paper wouldn't even slow the machine down. Overkill to the extreme.

The company was pretty fun to work for, until they fired me, then I kind of didn't like them so much anymore...

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphaser

Dunk them in the bath then take them to a regular municipal waste disposal/recycling site during a busy period. A big stack of wet paper is already fairly comprehensively ruined and unrecoverable - particularly if inkjet printed - and any potential dumpster divers will a/ have to get into the jumbo-sized dumpster which lots of people are dropping stuff into, b/ find their way quite a distance down the stack, as... well... lots of people are dropping stuff into it.

(just make sure you have some non-messy way of transporting them...)

Any personally identifiable material on the documents should be torn off and burnt seperately anyway. Use it as barbeque firelighters or something. Or combine your annual document disposal with *insert public holiday that involves a bonfire*...

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertahrey

That idea brought to you, btw, by having a load of paper left out for normal trash/recycling collection, the garbage men being on strike, and the weather turning from "dry but frozen" to "warm but torrential" in the space of 24 hours...

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertahrey

Err Scott... You might want to delete the spam posts above.. (and this too as it doesn't add to the conversation)
You might also want to change the captcha software. Just an idea.

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterm

Here's what you do. Wait until you see a tree trimming truck with a wood chipper and ask if you can stuff your documents into it. These guys don't make a lot of money so it will be cheap.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterD Wizar

Found this thanks to cnn.com:
http://www.stackandshred.com/html/

It's not going to shred boxes of paper, but 100 sheets at a time is a step in the right direction.

June 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Dude

once a year or so i gather up mine, rip them up, put them in like a flower pot, and burn it in the back. I always bring a bucket of water out with me just in case someone decides to make a big deal about it. Have not had any problems.

July 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterisiah

I am reminded of Iran when radicals seized the US embassy (1979). The staff had shredded their documents in lengthwise strips, which was the current method (crosscut came later, but then computer scanning and automated image reassembly defeated that). They couldn't pulp them because their water was turned off, and couldn't get to their incinerator, so eventually they were retrieved and reassembled by Iran. One of the embassy staff later said that if they had just all gathered around and pissed on them the secrets could have been safe.
That's the recipe. Get a trash can and bag liner. Toss in papers. Add some water. Add cat box nuggets, and piss on the lot. Seal bag and let mellow for a week. Oh so carefully set it out. Give your trash haulers a nice tip at Christmas.

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Ah, now this on of those problems childless people have, isn't it? I have 9-month-old baby. All documents, incoming mail, wrapping paper & packaging are systematically scrunched, ripped and chewed into oblivion. If you don't have a baby, I recommend a worm farm - those little guys will digest your tax records and never tell a soul you classified "Marie Claire" as self-education texts.

On a related note, did you know that in the final days of East Germany, the Stasi burned out their shredders destroying incriminating documents? And then drove to West Germany, bought more shredders, drove home, burned those shredders out, and were reduced to ripping things by hand? The really hilarious bit is, being orderly German types, they stored the shredded strips in sequential garbage bags, and now there's a team of puzzle enthusiasts putting all the strips back together again!

May 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAA

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