Dear Umbra,

I know this is a silly question, probably the strangest you’ve ever gotten, but I’m curious. Where I live, there isn’t a place nearby to recycle paper. I reuse most of my paper as scratch paper and have attempted to make my own paper using a blender and a screen. The problem is, making my own paper isn’t worthwhile, and I can’t possibly use that much scratch paper. Besides, what do I do with the paper after I have used it as scratch paper? My only choice is to throw it out, which I am not happy about. I would feel better if my waste paper could be used as mulch. I know it sounds silly, but my garden needs the mulch as much as I need to get rid of my paper in an environmentally friendly way. Can paper be used as a mulch, and if so, is it good for the environment?

Dalton, Neb.

Dearest Megan,

Yes, you can use your paper as mulch. Any type of organic material (that’s organic as in “made from living material,” not organic as in “chemical-free”) can be used as mulch. You can simply shred the paper and pile it on your garden, although you may need to wet it down or put compost or burlap on top to keep it from blowing away. Experiment to find the best technique for your needs.

Let me also assuage your concerns on another front: Yours was very far from the strangest or silliest question I’ve ever received. In fact, I am sorry to report that you are not even in the running in the strangest/silliest competition.