Paperless technology is gaining popularity all over the world. More and more offices are going paperless to become more eco-friendly. Despite paperless technology becoming immensely popular, there will still be times when you will need actual paper documents.
That raises the question-” What should you do with all these documents?” You may need to hold on to certain documents for life, such as your birth certificate and education documents. However, most documents come with a shelf life. For instance, you need not hold onto credit card statements or bank statements for more than a year or so.
The best thing to do for such documents is to destroy them to protect your identity and confidential information. That’s where a shredder comes in handy.
- What Documents Should You Destroy?
- 10 Ways to Shred Documents Without a Shredder
- Why Should You Destroy Sensitive Documents?
- Useful Tips for Destroying Confidential Documents
- Bottom Line
What Documents Should You Destroy?
There are some confidential documents that need to be destroyed more than others.
Many banks and financial institutions still send you financial statements by mail. Chances are, you may have a pile of them at home. Should you be hoarding these? Not at all. But neither should you be throwing them out in the trash as is.
You have to remember that your financial statements contain a lot of personal information. Your bank statement would have your name, address, account number, account balance, and a lot more information. You need to safely dispose of these statements to ensure no one can gain access to your personal information.
Like financial statements, insurance records also have a lot of personal information on them. The amount of information on these records is enough for identity thieves to steal your identity and create problems in your life.
Your medical records should also be destroyed because they also include a lot of personal data. Some data on these records that can be easily misused are your name, identification number, health insurance information, and your medical history.
No one gives a second thought before tossing out junk mail in the trash. But you will be surprised by the amount of personal information in them. Say you receive a credit card application. It will have your name, address, and financial information in it. Do you really want to throw it in the garbage without shredding it?
10 Ways to Shred Documents Without a Shredder
Do you need to discard confidential documents but don’t have a paper shredder? Don’t worry. There are many ways to destroy sensitive documents without a shredder and without much effort.
1. Shred all the Documents by Hand
Shredding sensitive documents by hand is the most intuitive and inexpensive way to discard your documents. However, if you have too many documents, this could be a labor-intensive process. Another downside to this method is that it is time-consuming and may not be a very secure way to discard your documents.
So, if you have decided to destroy your documents by hand, how do you prevent illegal or unethical use? When destroying documents by hand, ensure that you shred all the sensitive data into multiple tiny pieces. Make sure that there is no usable information, keeping you protected against identity theft and information leakage.
You can also use a hole punch when shredding your documents. You could punch holes in the sensitive data of the documents so that no useful information falls into the wrong hands.
Another piece of advice when shredding documents by hand is to dispose of them in a compost pit instead of the trash can or recycling bin. However, if you must discard in a trash can, do not put all the pieces of the documents in the same trash can. By discarding your documents in different trash cans, you make it harder for people to put your documents together.
Although inexpensive, you have to remember that shredding confidential documents by hand is not very secure. That is why it is important that you are very meticulous when tearing up your documents. Double-check to ensure that you have left no intelligible information that can be used against you.
2. Burn the Documents
Burning documents is another sure-fire way of getting rid of your sensitive data without the risk of misuse. It may not be the most efficient solution but it definitely gets the job done. All you need to do is throw your documents in a fire pit.
Before throwing the documents in the fire pit, make sure to tear them up into really small pieces. Doing so will ensure that no large pieces fly away from the pit still intact.
Once the fire is put out, check through the ashes. Break up the ashes to ensure that there are no readable pieces of documents left in the pit.
There is one thing to take care of before you create a fire. Ensure that it is not illegal in the area you live in. You do not want to break laws while destroying your documents.
3. Compost Your Documents
Burning your documents may not be the most eco-friendly way of discarding your documents. If you want a more eco-friendly approach to destroying your documents, then composting your documents is perfect for you. You can add your documents to the compost pile along with other household waste, such as vegetable peels, coffee, and filters. Don’t worry. Your paper documents are not going to harm your composting pit or your plants. In fact, paper is biodegradable and breaks down into carbon, nitrogen, and other elements that are beneficial for your plants.
Don’t want any traces of your documents to be found in the compost pit? Be sure to tear up your documents into small pieces first before adding them to the pit.
Composting may not be a very efficient solution if you have several documents to be discarded. If you put a lot of documents in the compost pit, you may disturb the carbon-nitrogen balance. It is a good solution if you need to get rid of a few documents.
Also, before you put your documents in the compost pit, check to ensure that they are suitable for composting. For instance, if your document has plastic lamination, you can’t put it in the compost pit. Glossy paper is also not suitable for composting because it may contain high levels of chemicals.
4. Use Multi-cut Scissors to Destroy Confidential Papers
Another easy way of destroying your confidential papers is by using multi-cut scissors. These shredding scissors make multiple cuts at the same time and are a relatively inexpensive way to mimic a paper shredder.
Of course, you can always tear documents with your bare hand. But, let’s face it. It is an extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Since multi-cut scissors make multiple cuts at once, you can quickly and easily reduce your confidential documents to waste.
Multi-cut scissors may be a cheap and simple method to destroy your documents, but it is definitely not the most secure. They work like a strip-cut shredder, cutting up your documents into strips. These scissors are definitely not as secure as a cross-cut shredder. It is recommended to use multi-cut scissors with other methods to more efficiently discard your confidential papers.
Say you have cut up your confidential papers using multi-cut scissors. You may now want to put these pieces into your compost pile to ensure that you have rendered your documents unreadable. Doing so will ensure that there is no risk of a security breach from such papers.
5. Soak Them in Water
Another fantastic alternative to a paper shredder could be water. Yes, you heard that right. All you have to do is soak your confidential papers in water, and let it do the job. How much water do you need? That depends on how much paper you have. Ideally, all your papers should be submerged in water. You may want to keep the papers soaked for at least 24 hours or so for better results. If you are looking for something instant, this is not the method you want to try.
Many people create a water and bleach solution thinking that it will give faster and better results. Some people even use toilet bowl cleaners in their water. However, plain water works just fine, provided you are a little patient. For complete destruction of your confidential papers, use a paint turbine mixer to thoroughly break up the paper.
Don’t have a paint turbine mixer? That’s fine. You could always use an electric mixer.
When your papers have had enough time to soak in, you can drain and dispose of your confidential documents.
If you are an avid gardener, you may know about mulching. For those new to the concept, mulching is the process of covering the open surface of the ground with an external material. Mulching can be done any time of the year and in any part of your garden. Mulch traps the surface water of your soil, helping the soil retain moisture for good plant growth.
So, how do you get rid of your papers using mulching? It’s quite simple, actually. You need to cut them into smaller pieces and add them to the yard waste you are using as mulch. It is indeed a great way to put your yard waste and sensitive documents to good use.
Pulping is the process used in papermaking. If you are looking for alternative ways to destroy your confidential documents without paper shredders, you must surely try this method.
Although it is extremely efficient, be warned that it can be a laborious and time-consuming process. Also, it uses bleach. So you may want to use some protective gear such as gloves and eye cover before you try this method.
Bleach destroys the sensitive information in your document. However, it is corrosive and may harm your skin. Also, bleach should only be used in a well-ventilated room so that you do not inhale the fumes.
To start with, get a large bucket, preferably one that is bleach-resistant. Also, a large bucket will ensure that there are lesser spills. Now pour roughly five gallons of water into the bucket, and then add about half a gallon of bleach. Stir it with a stick so that you have a nice water and bleach solution.
Once your solution is ready, add your papers to the bucket. Use the stick to push them down so that they are completely submerged. If you have a huge pile of documents, you may want to do this in batches.
Your papers need to soak in the solution for a minimum of 24 hours. This gives the bleach enough time to properly break down the documents and the sensitive information on them. After 24 hours, use an electric mixer to convert the paper into a pulp. Ensure that every single document gets blended.
Now leave the mixture to dry. Once dry, you can dispose of it in the trash.
8. Hire a Shredding Service
Just because you don’t have a paper shredder does not mean that you cannot get your sensitive documents shredded. What are shredding services for? If you don’t have a lot of time or energy to sit and shred your sensitive information, just use a shredding service.
You can check for local shredding companies in your area. Many local businesses offer shredding services, and some of them may even pick up the documents for you. In some places, FedEx and UPS also provide shredding services. Several recycling companies also offer similar services.
The biggest downside to this method is that it is not very secure. In fact, it isn’t secure at all. So, we will definitely not recommend this method if you need to get rid of highly confidential information. Of course, there are privacy laws to protect against a security breach. However, how sure can you be that the shredding service you hired follows the law to the T?
If you need to discard highly confidential papers, we suggest you use other alternatives to paper shredders.
9. Wash Your Papers
Have you ever had a piece of paper in your jeans pocket in the washing machine? It completely destroys it, doesn’t it? If you are looking for a cheap and easy alternative to paper shredders, this is it.
So, does it mean that you throw all the paper you want to destroy in your washing machine? Well, no, not directly, at least. You will damage your washing machine, and cleaning it will be a huge chore.
Of course, the washing machine can be a great way to render the sensitive parts of any document unintelligible. That’s because it uses extra force that destroys the papers. But, never put in papers directly. Use a stocking or a lingerie bag to stuff the papers in, and then throw it into the washing machine. Don’t forget to tie the mouth of your stocking or lingerie bag or else you will have bits of paper everywhere in the washing machine.
If you have a washing machine at home, this method requires very little effort. Once done, throw the ripped pieces into the trash.
10. Censor Your Document
Do you feel that tearing up your documents into little pieces takes up a lot of time? Well, that’s because it does. Destroying confidential documents does not always mean that you need to cut them up or tear them into pieces. You could leave the paper whole and yet make it useless for identity thieves.
How do you do that? By censoring your confidential documents.
You could take a black marker to cover up or censor the sensitive parts. Use more than one stroke, and black it out from the front and back. If you use a single stroke only, your sensitive information may be visible when held against the light.
Alternatively, you may also use a hole puncher. You could use it to get rid of the sensitive parts completely. If you have a lot of documents, this could tire out your hands.
What do you do after censoring your document? You can throw them in the garbage can. However, as we said earlier, if you need to throw your papers in the trash can, don’t put everything in one. Use multiple garbage cans to discard them, and ensure that they are quite some distance from one another. You will make it a lot harder for people to connect the dots.
Why Should You Destroy Sensitive Documents?
We are led to believe that online hackers can use our digital data to steal our identity. However, identity theft is most commonly done using paper documents that are discarded carelessly. When it comes to confidential documents, you can never be too safe. It is important to shred paperwork that is outdated, no longer needed, or no longer relevant before throwing them out.
Useful Tips for Destroying Confidential Documents
Dispose of Them on Time
You can use several methods to get rid of your confidential papers. However, whatever method you choose, it is crucial that you destroy them in time. You should destroy your insurance records and medical records once they are out of date. However, if you have a credit card application, be sure to destroy it that very day. The longer you hold on to these documents, the longer you expose yourself to data theft.
Properly Dispose of Your Confidential Documents
It is extremely important to dispose of your confidential documents in the right manner. You could always use a paper shredder if you have one. If you don’t, you can always use any of the methods listed above.
Use a Shredding Service You Can Trust
If you must use a shredding service, use a trustworthy company. Before handing over your documents to them, ensure that they use the best security practices when destroying confidential documents. If any of your document ends up in the wrong hands, it could have serious consequences for you.
With cases of data theft and identity theft increasing, keeping your confidential information secure has become a priority. That is why almost every office and many homes have paper shredders.
Having a paper shredder at your disposal makes destroying confidential documents a lot easier. However, there are several alternative ways to get rid of a document, even when you don’t have paper shredders.
We have listed ten alternative ways to get rid of your confidential information. Whether you choose to burn your papers or use a shredding service, you must ensure that you keep your personal information secure at all times.