Creative Uses for Shredded Paper for the Home and Garden

by Miranda Jackson
DIY Landscaping for Less photo
Repurposing shredded paper won’t save you a ton of money, but there are plenty of ways to reuse it around your house and in the garden.

If you own a paper shredder, you may simply throw your shredded paper in the recycling bin. However, it can be repurposed in a variety of creative ways. In fact, we occasionally receive tips from our readers for repurposing shredded paper.

Read on for 10 creative uses for shredded paper we found around the web and a few tips from our readers. Some of these may help you save some money.

Editor’s note: For some of these uses, such as those for kids, pets and the fireplace, you should only use shredded paper made from non-toxic inks and materials.

1. DIY Paper Mache

Combine shredded paper with glue or a flour-water mixture to create a paste for paper mache projects. This is perfect for crafting masks, sculptures or decorative bowls.
Try this recipe from The Spruce Crafts for no-cook paper mache paste.

2. Craft Projects

You can also use shredded paper for various craft projects, such as making collages or greeting cards. This holiday season, fill clear tree ornaments with colorful shredded paper for a unique decoration.

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3. Homemade Fire Starters

Stuff a cardboard tube (e.g., from a paper towel or toilet paper roll) with shredded paper and melted wax. Let it cool and use it as a fire starter for your next camping trip or fireplace.

4. Eco-Friendly Packaging Material

Store-bought packaging materials aren’t cheap. You may be able to use shredded paper as a protective filler when shipping delicate items or as decorative padding in gift boxes.

5. Pet Bedding

According to, unbleached shredded paper can serve as a soft, absorbent bedding material for small pets like hamsters, gerbils or guinea pigs. Just be sure to avoid paper with ink that might be harmful to your pet!

6. Cat Toys

Stuff a small fabric pouch with shredded paper, add a little catnip and sew it shut. Your cat will enjoy playing with this lightweight, crinkly toy.

7. Composting

Add shredded paper to your compost bin as a carbon-rich “brown” material. It helps maintain a balanced compost and breaks down over time. (See also: How To Get Started Composting on the Cheap.)

8. Garden Mulch

Spread shredded paper around your plants as a lightweight mulch. It helps to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Eventually, it decomposes, adding nutrients to the soil. (See also: 5 Sources of Free and Extremely Cheap Mulch for Your Yard and Garden.)

9. DIY Seedling Pots

Mix shredded paper with a little water and press it into small pots or muffin tins. Once dry, these biodegradable pots can be filled with soil and seeds and then planted directly into the ground.

10.Homemade Confetti

For a cheap and more eco-friendly alternative to store-bought confetti, use shredded paper at your next celebration. Color it with water-based markers or food coloring for a festive touch.

Creative Uses for Shredded Paper: Tips From Dollar Stretcher Readers

Here are some of the tips from our readers. if you’d like to receive money-saving reader tips like these in your inbox each week, you can subscribe here.

Shredded Paper for the Chicken Coop

I use to on live on a farm in the mountains. The cost of saw dust was rising so an old timer told me in the bad times they used paper in the chicken cages. I then started playing with the idea and found my chickens loved to lay on the soft shredded paper and it was easy to clean out the cage and compost.

Shredded Wrapping Paper

I like to shred pieces of gift wrap that are too small or irregular or wrinkled to use. They are a pretty filler for gift bags or baskets. For a more colorful result, don’t mix them with regular paper.

Farm Animal Bedding

In response to the uses for shredded paper. I have a friend that is an ag teacher and he uses shredded paper for bedding for the farm animals.
W. Hynek of Luxemburg, WI

Soak Up Garage Spills and More

Shredded papers are excellent to use as a packing material when moving. I have also used shredded paper for filling the bottom of gift baskets, used it to soak up spills in the garage and as mulch for around plants.

Things to shred for these uses include: mail, catalogs, newspapers, advertisements.

Don’t use your shredded sensitive documents in gift baskets. For mulching, don’t use plastic window envelopes, no colored paper or colored ink.

Yesterday’s Mail Is Today’s Litter

A few years ago, tired of paying the price of kitty litter, I gradually switched my cat over to shredded paper. Because he was older, it did require a little bit of graduating him over, by mixing his regular litter with the paper until he understood the paper was fine to use. This is completely free, but does require a little more frequent changing to keep odors under control. We shred all of our incoming mail in a cross-cut shredder after we’ve taken care of it. Between junk mail and paid bills, we have plenty of shredded paper supply.

On litter changing day, I line the pan with a thick layer of flyers, sprinkle it with a bit of baking soda (optional), and then put down a thick layer of shredded paper. Our cat is happy that the paper still allows him to bury his waste, and it costs us nothing. Using a pair of latex gloves, I can roll up the bottom layer of flyers with all the waste inside to make changing the litter easier, but my husband prefers to just dump it all into a garbage bag.

Reviewed August 2023

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