Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Do you have a shredder?

Do you own a shredder?  I do.  Do you use it religiously?  I don’t.  I should and because I am writing this today, I will change my ways.  Starting today I will answer yes.  I’ve had my shredder for a long time.  I do use it for things that have my social security number, for shredding credit card bills, and other things that I consider personal. 

I haven’t been using it for junk mail.  What type of junk mail do I receive?  Today I got an offer for a credit card.  Just sign my name and it’s mine.  I can even get a cash advance.  What did I do with this?  I just threw it in the trash.  I didn’t even open it up.  I didn’t rip it in half.  I just threw it away.  OK that was stupid.

Security is really just a bunch of layers surrounding you.  It can be my front fence and gate, then the closer gate, then the house, then a lockable room (and me with an arsenal of weapons).  Using a shredder is just another layer of security.  It’s an easy layer, and one that everyone can afford.  You can buy cheap shredders that will shred a page at a time for under twenty dollars.  It’s well worth the expense.  Mine cost about fifty dollars and it’s probably six or seven years old.  It’s still working as well now as when I bought it.  It will shred credit cards and paper.  It cuts about five or so pages at a time without strain.

There are different types of shredders.  The cheapest is a general document shredder.  It cuts strips that are 3/8 to ½ inch wide.  The next level cuts 1/8 to ¼ in width and will cross cut so each shredded piece is between one and three inches in length.  There are even higher levels of shredders which make 1/16 in width and cross cut to one or two inches.  It would have to be something really top secret to need something like that.  That would cut one 8X11 piece of paper into about 1000 pieces.  That’s more than I need.  Mine is the general shredder.  It cuts about 3/8 inch strips and doesn’t cross cut.  This means I can get a strip 11 inches in length.  I usually tear the paper in half so this means an 8X11 piece of paper ends up in about 50 pieces.  If there was only one piece of paper being shredded then I may worry about the security of only 50 pieces but since there’s up to 100 pages shredded before I clean out the shredder, I am putting 5000 pieces of paper out under the tree.  That’s secure enough for me and I would assume for most households.  If I was making the purchase right now instead of many years ago I’d get a crosscut.  Even the lower end would cut an 8X11 into about 300 pieces. 

Someone could easily go through my trash (while probably not rummaging through the trash in my yard, perhaps where I dump the trash, or even past that point at a dump).  All they’d have to do is sign it and send it back.  Even if the new card was being sent to my house, they’d be able to wait for it and get to my mail before I do.

Note to self: Why do you not have a locking mailbox?  It used to lock but that broke about 10 years ago.  Now, it doesn’t lock.  I’ve never had a problem with someone taking the mail but that doesn’t mean someone won’t take the mail starting tomorrow.

My new rule is to shred everything: newspapers, magazines (unless they get dropped off at the hospital or doctor’s office with my name cut out), all junk mail, all mail.  Why?  I decided that I don’t want anyone to be able to learn about me by looking at my trash.  What do I read, what do I subscribe to, anything.  It reminds me of the anthropological study several years back where people were asked how much they drank, what they ate, etc.  They provided their answers.  Then the group went through their trash and found the real answers.  You can learn a lot about a person by going through their trash. 

I’ve always enjoyed taking the shreddings out and putting them around my trees to use as mulch.  I know that some of the ink used and some of the paper used isn’t the greatest, but it will decompose well enough and I’m not worried about the ink leaching into the soil and ruining anything.

Starting today, there will be one less person that the bad guys can learn about and I’ll be mulching my trees more.  A win win situation.      

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