Water. If you soak a sensitive document in water over an extended period of time, it will ultimately become illegible. If you don't have a lot of documents to destroy, put a few sheets of paper in a resealable plastic bag and fill it with water. Let the papers sit for several days, then take them out and check to see if they are still readable.
Soaking papers in liquid is another way of destroying evidence. Be sure to soak multiple pages of a single document because if you get any glue on one page, it won't come off in water.
The more frequently you destroy documents, the less evidence there will be remaining when the time comes to dispose of them. It's best not to keep any records at all of your dealings with classified information, whether or not those dealings are illegal. When you destroy documents, you eliminate evidence that could lead back to you.
As long as you follow proper destruction procedures, there should be no residual effect on the environment due to paperwork disposal. Of course, garbage disposal units for offices and homes can cause problems if they aren't properly maintained, but this isn't usually the case.
Another simple way to dispose of secret documents is to immerse them in water. This procedure requires some patience, but when done correctly, it may be quite successful. Simply immerse your documents in a bucket of water for at least 24 hours to render them illegible. The fibers that make up paper are composed of cellulose, which is dissolved by acid or alkali. So, adding acid to the paper itself or spraying it with dilute acid will cause the paper to disintegrate quickly. You could also burn paper if you need to destroy sensitive documents but this is not a good idea because smoke contains carbon particles that can pollute the atmosphere.
The best way to dispose of paper is through recycling. There are many organizations that collect recycled paper and products. They usually either sell it or reuse it. Some examples include schools, universities, and businesses. Recycling paper helps save trees and energy, reduces our dependence on foreign countries for materials, and makes more space available for other things like books and toys.
Paper products contain chemicals that can leach into the soil or drain away into local water sources. When paper does break down completely it produces carbon dioxide as a by-product. Carbon dioxide is a gas that contributes to climate change. The amount of paper that is consumed each year is huge so it is important that we find ways to recycle it instead of throwing it out.
Pulping. Water has a startling ability to render sensitive information illegible. If you immerse your documents in water for a day or two, the paper will slowly disintegrate into a mushy pulp. You should have no trouble physically tearing this pulp apart.
Bubbles. Paper contains small holes called "vias" that connect one sheet of fiberboard to another. When water floods the vias, it escapes through the surface of the paper, creating tiny bubbles. With enough pressure, even these tiny bubbles can burst, spraying fine particles of wood across a room. The word "bleach" comes from the same source.
Detergents are chemicals with similar bubbling properties. When they're poured over a pile of dirty clothes, they dissolve any powder that won't dissolve in water, leaving your clothes clean and fresh-smelling. Some detergents contain enzymes that break down stains too, making them good cleaners for laundry as well as carpets.
Destroyed data is not recoverable. Even if you save your files before destroying them, their components are still destroyed when you pour acid or burn them. There are programs available that can reconstruct text from its constituent characters, but none can repair photos or other graphical files without first finding an exact copy of them.