"G" wrote in, asking if I use shredded paper. Short answer....yes. I personally don't generate a lot of shredded paper myself, but I do have people who donate it to me. And I appreciate getting it. I often dig it into the soil of my flower gardens. I tried once using it as a surface mulch but it had two drawbacks for me. First, the winds tended to blow it around, and second, if wet down, it formed a mat that rain had difficulty penetrating. Thus I prefer to dig it in.
Besides digging it right into the soil, I also use it in the compost bins. It's considered a "brown" ingredient, meaning that it doesn't contribute nitrogen. So it is added along with either fresh green grass clippings or animal manures. It can absorb quite a bit of water, so I make sure to wet it down when it's added to a pile.
"G" also asked if shredded paper is really 100% clean and safe to use. I can't say that it is. Looking at things realistically, there's hardly anything that is 100% "clean" nowadays. Not the air, the rain, the soil, nothing. Man has contaminated and changed the entire world. And there's not much us little folk can do about it, especially since some of our chemical exposure is mandated by laws and regulations! While I don't intentionally add lots of toxic chemicals to my gardens, I'm not 100% chemical free. As I've stated in previous blog posts, I take what I deem to be a reasonable and realistic approach.