Although paper shredding is recommended for those documents containing personal information that should not be shared, few of us actually take the time to do it properly. Businesses are more likely to adhere to document shredding guidelines, as it is not their responsibility to pay for the special oil the machine requires to operate consistently and effectively. If you do not currently make it a habit, you should. Below are a few reasons why the eco-friendly shredding habit is one to keep.
It is not the raccoons you need to worry about. It is someone with the dedication and willingness to get their hands dirty whom you need to guard against. Consider the documents you regularly receive in the mail. Unless you have set up paperless billing (and you should), the mail pile may contain bills with account numbers, bank statements, voter registration pamphlets, or medical documents.
What about the papers you bring home with you? These may have even more personal information. If it is all simply tossed whole into the trash, these documents could provide an enterprising thief with plenty of information.
Not all documents should be thrown out or shredded right away. There are many documents that you should hold onto, such as:
- -Medical Records: keep these and the resulting bills for at least a year. If there is a dispute later, you will want proof.
-Tax Records: these should be kept for seven years, along with accompanying receipts.
-Pay Stubs: it is recommended these are kept until you receive your W-2.
-Credit Card Statements: These only need to be kept for 45 days, but with online banking these can usually be found online.
The benefits of shredding documents extends beyond identity protection. Eco-friendly shredding is just that, if the shredded bits are recycled. One ton of recycled shredded paper can save the equivalent of 17 trees! But that is not all, as the process of making paper uses other resources as well. Eco-friendly shredding can also save about 4.2 megawatts of electricity and 16,000 liters of water. That saves about 2.62 cubic meters of waste from ending up in the landfill.
The biggest users of eco-friendly shredding are actually businesses of all sizes. For the amount of paper these offices will go through just on a weekly basis, it is perhaps prudent to hire a paper shredding company to do the work. That way, no employee is tasked with feeding sensitive documents into a shredder for a good portion of the day. And taking the paper to the recycling center is someone else’s responsibility. Everyone wins.