Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility

Paper trail leads to Asheville man who gleefully shreds documents daily

Paper trail leads to Asheville man who gleefully shreds documents daily
Austin Ferrell has made a name out of his labor of love: shredding documents as "Austin Shreds." (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Paper shredding may not sound like a hobby to most. But with the right mindset, destroying private information might be more satisfying than you think.

"Yeah, shredded!" exclaims Austin Ferrell, as another page bites the dust in the shredder at his mom's office.

"He would shred three or four hours a day," his mom Janet Price-Ferrell told News 13. "Maybe it's because he has a task and it gets finished."

On paper, he has intellectual disabilities. But Austin's mother focuses more on the possibilities.

"As a parent of a kid with a disability, you're always looking for something that your kid enjoys," Janet explained.

"Austin Shreds" has become his source of identity.

If you have paper piling up, he'll gladly take it off your hands and shred it in exchange for a donation.


"Alright!" Austin said recently, ready to tackle his latest batch of paperwork.

Once he puts on headphones, sunglasses and mask, he's in the zone.

"I love you, you love me! We're a happy family..." he sang.

"You got it!" yells Austin's worker, Sean Coughlin. "Listen to Party Rock, Mambo #5," he added.

"Ooh I know that song!" Austin replied.

News 13 watched as he handled the documents with excitement.

Since middle school, Austin has spent several days a week volunteer-shredding at Buncombe County Schools, until COVID-19 concerns cut into his favorite pastime.

"He needed to keep shredding, so we moved his shredding to our office so that he could keep shredding and have activity," Janet says. "Then we had piles of paper. So Austin and his worker came up with the idea of making fire bricks."


"3-2-1... Ferrell fire!!" Austin yelled with his well-documented enthusiasm.

Instead of filling up the landfill, he launched a venture to find a new use for all those shreds, with the help of Coughlin.

They showed News 13 a few steps in the process.

It includes spraying the shreds with water and putting them into molds. Eventually, they produce bricks used to start fires. The duo made 200 Ferrell Fire Bricks, which were sold out within 24 hours to Facebook followers.

But the project was about more than green-- as in money, his worker says.

"So this is an environmentally green thing. It's very Asheville-- you're such a renaissance man," he told Austin.

"Aw, c'mon," Ferrell replied.

What makes Austin special is the fact that he makes any kind of work look like a labor of love.

That's a gift, without a shred of a doubt.

"He can be doing the most mundane thing in the world and it can be a whole new fun experience," Coughlin said.

"Make bricks, do the paper!" says Austin.

"I love you, you love me..." he sang, continuing the soundtrack that made everyone smile. "Yeah!"

"Awesome dude!" Coughlin said.