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RE: using shredded office paper in compost

  • Subject: RE: [cg] using shredded office paper in compost
  • From: Cary Oshins <caryoshins@lehighcounty.org>
  • Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 14:46:26 -0400

Let me set the record straight--the best thing to do with paper is recycle it into more paper.  As for composting it, paper does have one nutirient--Carbon!  Folks have learned that they need to balance Carbon adn Nitrogen, and paper is VERY high in Carbon, so it makes sense.  Unfortunately, in the typical outdoor pile, as soon as it gets wet, it loses its structural properties and does not provide the pore space that we are looking to our high carbon materials, like leaves, twigs and straw, to provide. But it's main value is in worm bins as bedding-something to maintain moisture and give the worms a home that you can bury the food in.   As for the risk from dioxin in paper--fuggetaboutit!  You could mulch your tomatoes for 50 yrs with nothing but office paper and hardly budge the risk-o-meter a hair.  But I certainly dont recommend it--there are better things to use as mulch and to do with the paper--RECYCLE IT!
Wormly yours,
-----Original Message-----
From: Mike McGrath [mailto:MikeMcG@PTD.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 2:07 PM
To: Cary Oshins; ACGA listserve
Subject: Re: [cg] using shredded office paper in compost

Cary--as you know, I greatly respect your composting knowledge, but I could not disagree more with you on this one. These papers ARE bleached with chlorine and do, as a result, contain dioxins that may well survive the process (providing the worms survive it, of course).  All they can possibly contribute to the process is problems--certainly no nutrients.  And much-safer newspapers are so abundant, I have to ask--why use something less good and potentially harmful?
    Here's how I answered the whole "white paper in compost or as mulch" question for gardens Alive recently:
                                    Best fishes,   Mike McG
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 2:05 PM
Subject: RE: [cg] using shredded office paper in compost

I have used shredded office paper in lots of bins.  The only trouble comes at the very beginning, becasue those sharp edges hurt!  The best thing to do is to wet the paper several days before adding the worms, to give it a chance to soften up.  The glossy paper is fine to include in small amounts.  The glossiness comes from clay, and the colored inks are much less toxic than the used to be. 
-----Original Message-----
From: Rhonda Teitel-Payne [mailto:rhonda@thestop.org]
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 11:08 AM
To: ACGA listserve
Subject: [cg] using shredded office paper in compost

Hi Judy!
My worm composting friends told me not to include glossy colour paper in worm boxes because they contain toxins the little guys can't break down.  They can handle just about anything else. But that's worm composting.  I'd be worried about bleach and dioxin from white paper. 
Maybe someone else knows if there are other safe ways to break down bleached and dyed paper?
Rhonda Teitel-Payne
Urban Agriculture Coordinator
The Stop Community Food Centre
Phone: 416-652-7867x22  Fax: 416-652-2294
P.O. Box 69, Stn. E., Toronto, ON. M6H 4E1
Check-out our web site: http://www.thestop.org

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