It’s that time of the year again when pumpkin spice, football, Fall leaves and cool crisp air hastily move in to kick-off Autumn. The change in seasons brings an exciting opportunity to get your home organized and ready for the Winter months. Fortunately, Hudson County Improvement Authority is ready to help you prepare with several upcoming opportunities to safely dispose of unwanted personal documents and confidential information that clutters your home.

Why Should I Shred Paper?

Believe it or not, thieves can and will dig through recycling bins, garbage cans or other trash receptacles to find your personal information and steal it. Identity theft is a common crime used to steal personal and sensitive information across the United States. The Insurance Information Institute estimated that 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports were received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2020. With millions of Americans and businesses impacted by identity theft each year, personal documents should never be disposed of in regular garbage cans or recycling bins. Shredding personal documents and sensitive materials is the best and only way to protect yourself from identity theft and keep your confidential information secure. Shredding paper can also help you save on storage space, remove fire hazards, and help the environment!

What Should I Shred?

In general, there are certain requirements around shredding sensitive information and documents. Consumer advocates recommend destroying any documents that include a signature, account number, social security number, credit card number and credit, medical or legal information. To protect your privacy, you should also consider shredding documents that include birth dates, passwords and PINs, names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Some examples of items that you should shred include ATM receipts, bank statements, canceled or voided checks, pay stubs and address labels from junk mail or magazines.

The IRS recommends keeping tax documents and any tax-related documents used to support your tax returns for up to seven years before shredding. Additional personal documents such as bank statements, pay stubs, utility and credit card bills, insurance policies and ATM receipts should be kept for one to two years for reconciliation purposes. You should also shred sales receipts unless the items purchased have warranties and remove and shred pharmacy labels with personal information before throwing away empty prescription bottles. The Hudson County Improvement Authority guarantees that personal documents will be commercially shredded safely, privately, and properly by trained, licensed, and bonded document destruction specialist.

Setting up an electronic filing system is also a beneficial method to managing personal documents and sensitive information and keeping your home clean and organized. Signing up for paperless billing and electronic bank statements or scanning personal paper documents into an electronic storage system can minimize your environmental impact and protect against identity theft. Although it is a tedious method, this system can help the most unorganized person stay prepared! If you are someone who likes to keep documents around just in case, be sure to maintain a workable home filing system that keeps your information locked up and filed away or you may find yourself a victim of identify theft.

The Benefits of Recycling Shredded Paper

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans use about 69 million tons of paper and paperboard each year. In fact, paper and paperboard products make up the largest portion of municipal solid waste in the country, which offers the greatest opportunity to recycle. Luckily, shredded paper is recyclable and safe for composting! According to the American Forest and Paper Association, nearly 80% of all paper mills used some recycled paper to make new products in the United States. Recycled paper material can be turned into different consumer goods including tissues, paper towels, coffee filters and paper plates. The Sierra Club also advises that shredded paper, excluding colored and glossy paper, is very safe to use as mulch or in compost, if you have your own personal or community compost.

Overall, there are many benefits to recycling paper that can help the environment and your community. Recycling paper reduces greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change, extends the fiber supply of paper, and contributes to carbon sequestration, saves considerable landfill space, and reduces energy and water consumption. You can also re-use shredded paper for tissue paper in gift bags or baskets, packaging in shipped goods or as bedding for your pet rabbit or hamster.

Local Shredding Opportunities

Paper shredding events are a great opportunity to safely dispose of personal and sensitive documents that you no longer want or need without having to spend a dime! The Hudson County Improvement Authority is offering several upcoming mobile document shredding events at locations across the county. These free events will be held from 9 am to 2 pm, rain or shine, and open to all residents of Hudson County. Businesses are not eligible to participate. Visit the HCIA Mobile Shredding Events Page to find a Mobile Paper Shredding event near you!

If you plan to attend one of the Mobile Shredding Events, please make sure to only bring personal or confidential documents that are removed from folders and binders. Any newspapers, magazines, binder clips, cardboard, books, or binders will not be accepted. Due to COVID-19, the HCIA requests that all residents remain in their vehicle and place their personal documents and materials in their trunk. To accommodate all residents wishing to participate in HCIA Mobile Shredding Days, please limit your documents to no more than 40 pounds. Please also bring a valid form of identification to verify Hudson County Residency. If interested, you are more than welcome to watch the shredding of your personal documents.

The HCIA thanks you for participating in creating a cleaner and greener environment for all. Happy shredding!


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