Tax season is here, which may mean that you're digging through papers you've accumulated and finding a lot that you're ready to toss. When disposing of papers containing sensitive and personally identifying information, many people think they're doing the "right thing" by shredding their documents, then putting the shred in their recycle bin. But did you know you should not put shredded paper in your curbside bin? 

Shredded paper creates a mess at the transfer stations

When your recycling bin is emptied, all of its contents are mixed and compacted with the contents of your neighbor's bins, and taken to a facility called a transfer station. At the transfer station, machines and people sort all of the materials. Shredded paper is far too small for the sorting machines and people to collect. "But what if I put it in a paper bag and staple it shut?" many ask. With all the compacting in the truck and fairly rough handling of the machines at the transfer station, it is very unlikely that your bag would make it through the sorting process without popping open and releasing shredded paper confetti, which needs to be shoveled and swept up and disposed of as garbage.  

Shredded paper is a great addition to compost piles, bins, and lasagna beds. Click the photo to learn more.

I can't put shredded paper in my curbside bin - so what do I do with it? Is there any way it can be recycled? Yes! 

To avoid the mess that shredded paper causes in the sorting system, shredded paper must be collected and handled separately from all other materials in order to be packaged for recycling. Shredded paper can be taken directly to the transfer stations in Clark County for free. Or you can use private services that will shred and recycle your paper for you, though there are usually fees for these services.

There are also shred events throughout the year in Clark County and are often free or low-cost to residents. Shred events allow you to bring boxes of sensitive papers to be shredded before your eyes, and sent to be recycled. Only bring items that really need to be shredded to protect sensitive or confidential information; please don't bring magazines, catalogs, junk mail, flyers, brochures, coupons, or receipts to shred events. Be sure to check the specific shred event's details for information including limits on how much you can bring to be shredded, donation requests, and other drop-off requirements.

The Green Neighbors event calendar is a great place to find upcoming shred events. Here are some that are coming up in April:

April 6 at Our Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 10 am - 1 pm
12513 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver
Requested donation of $5-10 per box

April 6 at Cascade Federal Credit Union, 10 am - 2 pm
805 NE 98th Circle, Vancouver

April 6 at First Centennial Mortgage, 10 am - 2 pm
418 Pioneer Street, Ridgefield

 Sign up for the Green Neighbors newsletter to receive monthly event news! You can also check out our events calendar; we add any shred event we hear about!