Here is another tip in the World Without Oil realm. (If you don’t know what World Without Oil is, look back at this older post for a description.) Kim and I are a young couple who recently paid off a lot of debt and are in the market to buy a house in the not-too-distant future. As such, we get a lot of snail-mail “spam.” Every day credit card applications, ads for newly built housing developments, preapproved loan offers, and other such things arrive in the mailbox. Because most of it is crap and I am security-minided, all of this stuff goes into the shredder, leaving a big pile of strips that the cats like to play with. Most people, at this point, would throw away the mess, or at the very least put it in the paper recycling bin. I end up using it in the fireplace. There are a few good reasons for this:
* It’s free (to me–someone else paid the printing and mailing costs)
* Free is cheaper than $3/gal for heating oil — if you burn it all at once, you get a nice flash of heat for about 5 minutes, although it doesn’t last much longer than that. Still–better than nothing.
* For longer-lasting heat, it makes great kindling for lighting larger logs
It even has an added bonus from a side-effect:
* In the summer, when it’s hot enough that a long-lasting fire would be silly, you can burn just the shreddings, then use the ashes to protect your garden (e.g. our tomato plants) from snails and slugs. It’s effectively wood ash, which can be sprinkled in a ring around the base of plants.
One thing to look out for when shredding/burning are those plastic windows that certain envelopes have. Increasingly, bill envelopes are using open windows (without plastic) or printing directly onto envelopes, presumably to cut down on cost. While, admittedly, it is small quantities as compared to the rest of the paper, burning plastic isn’t the greatest for the environment. It’s usually best to tear out the windows before shredding.