When I was younger, back before identity theft was cool, my mom was already on top of things. She tore our address off any junk mail and put it in a basket near the fireplace. When the basket was full, she would light a fire and let us burn the contents. My sister and I thought it was so fun to be allowed to set things on fire. I was already a closet pyromaniac, but this was mom-approved burning!
Years later, shredders became readily available so my mom switched from fire to shredding. A friend of mine used to use his leftover shredding as packing material for my birthday presents. I was surprised at how much I could still read on the shredded pieces of paper, but I thought hey, he must trust me not to do anything shady with his personal information.
In 2005, a new tv show called Eyes premiered on ABC. The show starred Tim Daly (Wings), A.J. Langer (My So-Called Life), Garcelle Beauvais (Models, Inc.), Eric Mabius (pre-Ugly Betty), and Laura Leighton (Melrose Place), so OF COURSE I had to watch it, even though it was on ABC (I was still mad at them for cancelling My So-Called Life). This was the first show I had watched on ABC since MSCL. If Eyes had premiered the year before, it probably would have survived and possibly been renewed, but 2004-2005 was the year that ABC debuted Lost and Desperate Housewives. In other words, suddenly ABC was as hot as it had been when Moonlighting aired, which meant that ABC could afford to be picky. They cancelled Eyes after five episodes and never aired the remaining seven episodes that had been filmed. Bastards.
Eyes was about a security company run by Tim Daly’s characater. The show was really interesting, but it also made me totally paranoid the same way that the Discovery show It Takes a Thief freaked me out (if you’ve never seen It Takes a Thief, they let a real burglar break into your house so that you can see how vulnerable your security, or lack thereof, is). They showed lots of different ways that your home, your personal information, and your life are accessible to anyone skilled enough to access any of it.
In one episode, they were trying to prove that a company had done something bad. The company knew they were about to be caught, so they shut down and the owners disappeared. Tim Daly’s company went around the back and took all the shredded paper in the trash. They took it back to their office where they scanned all of the shredded documents and had a computer program reassemble the pieces so they had proof of whatever the evil company was doing. One of the actors made a comment about how a lot of what took place on the show freaked her out and had made her aware of what she was putting in her trash, etc.
Lesson learned: big shred bad, small shred good.
We had a shredder at work (which I had picked out, so I got a good cross cut shredder that made small pieces), so I used to put all my junk mail in a large Tyvek envelope and then take it to work for shredding when it was full. When my boss left and I had to find a new job, I no longer had access to a good shredder. I bought one at Cost Co because it was pretty cheap, but it wasn’t the shredder of my dreams. The pieces were still larger than I wanted, but at that point I had a huge stack of stuff with my address that I needed to get rid of.
Last Christmas, I was at Cost Co when the heavens opened up and I found the best shredder ever for around $100. It’s a Fellowes MS7cs, which, curiously, I haven’t been able to find for sale online. I did find a comparable model, the Fellowes MS-450 cs. It makes the same size shred, has the same capacity, etc. so I don’t know if they just issued a new model number or what.
I knew I didn’t want a shredder where I had to remove the top to empty the contents. Those suck. I had one of those at one of my previous jobs, and emptying it out was a huge production and made a mess. This model has a pull out drawer, which is much easier to deal with. I line mine with a plastic garbage bag so that I don’t have to turn the container upside down to empty it. Shredded paper is heavier than it looks, and I hate the clouds of paper dust that float around when I have to flip the container over.
The best part is the shred size. My old shredder cut paper into 4mm x 38mm (5/32″ x 1 1/2″), which is still pretty big. The new shredder cuts paper down to 2mm x 8mm (5/64″ x 5/16″). A side by side comparison:
Tiny – TINY! I swear, I love this shredder so much that every time I shred something, I open up the bin and stick my hand inside all the tiny shredded pieces, like Amelie dipping her hand into a sack of grain. I love seeing all these teeny little pieces of paper.
There are a few cons to this shredder. First, the slot for inserting paper is only 8.75″ wide, which means that regular business sized envelopes have to be turned sideways. The sheet capacity is listed as seven pieces of paper, which seems like random number. Why not ten? Or even eight? Am I biased towards even numbers? The seven sheet capacity means that if I insert a sealed business sized envelopes with more than two sheets of paper folded inside, the machine sometimes jams. I’ve solved that problem by opening all of my junk mail and only shredding the pieces with my personal information. The bin capacity is only 4.5 gallons. My old shredder held 7 gallons, so I do have to empty the new shredder more frequently. As I said earlier, shredder paper is heavier than it looks, so don’t try to fill a bag to the brim or it may rip, leaving millions of tiny pieces of paper all over the floor. Not that I’ve ever done that (and not that I still find random pieces despite the fact that I vacuumed the entire floor after it happened).
The pros: aside from the tiny shred, this machine is REALLY quiet. I’m used to loud shredders that make a lot of noise, but this one is quiet enough that I can merrily shred while still having a conversation without shouting. It’s reasonably small, so it sits unobtrusively in the corner. The drawer makes it really easy to empty the bin (I used to HATE emptying the one at work because I had to take the top off the shredder).
And just because I like pretty colors and visual aids, this is the Fellowes comparison of the different shredding options: