How paper shredding & recycling helps security

Posted October 25th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

When it comes to home security, we think of home security cameras, locking doors and windows, ensuring blindspots are covered and much more. And rightfully so.

But something as simple as tossing a letter into your recycling bin without shredding it can be an afterthought - particularly when it comes to your security. So how can shredding and recycling your sensitive documents keep your home safe? Let’s dive into how paper shredding could help with security, along with practical tips to help dispose of documents with sensitive data.

Why should you shred your documents?

There are tons of security reasons as to why you should shred documents - especially things like bank statements and medical records.

1. You reduce the risk of identity theft

Most people are aware of common scams by now, but something as improperly disposing of your documents could lead to serious consequences. By making personal data virtually illegible, skip divers would have a hard time trying to piece any information together, especially as they’d want to be in and out of there quite quickly.

2. Enhances your home’s security

If your sensitive documents ever fell into the wrong hands, then they’d be likely to find your address and other personal details. By shredding your documents, you mitigate the risk of a stranger locating your home.

3. You can reduce the risk of financial fraud

There’s nothing more worrying than finding a payment on your bank statement that you don’t recognise. By shredding your statements, you can stop fraudsters from piecing your bank details together and going on a spending spree.

4. It helps maintain privacy

Although they’re rare these days, some still indulge in handwritten letters, sending family photos, postcards and the like. But even things like your old passport should be shredded to safeguard you and your family from fraud or identity theft. Plus, if you’re moving house, things like shredding your documents may get neglected - so it’s worth taking stock on what documents you have lying around and making a conscious effort to shred them.

Why recycle shredded documents

Before we dive into the safeguarding aspect of recycling - it’s important to note that recycling your shredded documents can help lower your carbon footprint, as well as reducing landfill and energy consumption.

In many places, your local council may collect shredded paper as part of your regular recycling routine. Depending on where you live, they might ask you to put it in a paper bag or envelope before placing it in your recycling bin. It's important to check your local council’s rules about shredded paper before throwing it in your recycling bin.

There are two main reasons why recycling shredded paper can be a bit tricky. First, when you shred paper, you make the paper fibres very short. Short fibres are harder to turn into good-quality paper pulp for making new paper-based items. Second, those tiny pieces of paper can get stuck in machinery at recycling firms, which could lead to a fire risk. So, it's essential to follow your local rules for recycling shredded paper carefully.

How does recycling help with your home’s security?

Whilst recycling doesn’t directly impact your home’s security, it can help indirectly. Here's how recycling can help with your home's security:

1. You’re assured everything is disposed of securely

When you recycle paper documents properly, you ensure that sensitive information is securely disposed of. Shredding and recycling sensitive documents can vastly reduce the likelihood of them falling into the wrong hands.

2. You reduce the risk of bin divers finding your information

If a bin diver happens to come across your shredded documents, they’d have a pretty hard time trying to piece your information together. 

3. You uphold your responsibility to recycle!

Okay - so this isn’t a direct home security benefit, but proper recycling aligns with being responsible and doing your part. It contributes to a cleaner and safer environment, which indirectly impacts your home's overall wellbeing and security.

4. It could help your pets

If you really want to up your recycling game, then why not use your shredded documents for your small pets? Pets like gerbils, rabbits, or hamsters may love you for it if it makes their bed! Read more about pet home security and general pet safety at home.

4 tips for shredding documents for your home’s security

Now that we've established the importance of paper shredding and how it can mitigate certain scenarios, let's explore practical tips for implementing these practices effectively:

1. Get a good quality paper shredder

You could purchase a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder as these provide a higher level of security compared to strip-cut shredders. Obviously, strip-cut shredders will do the trick of destroying your documents, but if the budget allows for it, you can never be too safe!

2. Regularly shred old documents you no longer need

Keeping bank statements and other recent important documents may help serve you when it’s requested as part of a background check, however, you should consider shredding invalid documents (usually those older than three months) so that you don’t have a big pile of personal data lying around. Plus, it helps keep things manageable when it comes to shredding documents!

3. Keep your documents safe

If you need to keep documents with sensitive data, you could keep them locked up and out of sight within your home. You may even wish to point an indoor camera in its general location as an added security measure.

4. Secure your recycling bins

Dumpster diving isn’t illegal in the UK - but if you know you’ve disposed of some letters containing sensitive data (shredded or otherwise), then if you’re able to - you could benefit from adding an outdoor camera to your home and having it angled towards your bin store. This can help you provide evidence in the unfortunate event of your personal information falling into the wrong hands.

How to destroy documents without a shredder

No shredder? No problem. You can still destroy sensitive documents to uphold your home security and recycle them. Here are some ways on how to destroy documents without a shredder:

1. Shred by hand

Simply tear up the paper by hand. You could put the torn paper in a compost bin or use our pet tip - as tiny pieces of paper are difficult to recycle. Struggling? Use a hole-puncher to punch out the really sensitive information!

2. Get some paper-shredding scissors

You can buy special scissors designed to shred paper quickly. They are safe to use, convenient, and easy to clean up afterwards.

We hope this has given you some insight into why paper shredding and recycling can help with your home’s security. Contact SimpliSafe to find out how we can help aid your home security efforts and be sure to read our blog to find out more tips on all things security.