Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It is becoming increasingly clear to me that packaging is a large part of everyone's trash.  

Since my family already recycles glass, metal, aluminum, plastics, and paper, and we compost as well, the "trash" that is left often seems to me like it should be able to be recycled.  For example, Styrofoam packing blocks and peanuts...

Recently when I contacted our recycling company about several items, they told me they did not take some things even though they have the proper recycling symbol and number.  I found out that even though large blocks of packing Styrofoam have the proper number stamped on it, they do not take it in the recycling bins because when crushed it flies out the back of the truck.   Similarly, they do not take packaging peanuts for the same reason.  Traditional Styrofoam blocks and packing peanuts are made of polystyrene, a non-biodegradable material which clogs up landfills. I've seen statistics stating that about 200 million cubic feet of polystyrene packaging is used every year in the United States.  What a WASTE!

Personally, I hate packing peanuts because there are better alternatives that are not such a static-y nuisance.  Have you ever tried cleaning up after unpacking something packed in Styrofoam blocks or Styrofoam peanuts?  Sticks to everything including the vacuum...I'm all for reusing them if they are already out there, or recycling them (but my recycling company won't take them, will yours?), but why make more?  I have been told that places like UPS stores will gladly take Styrofoam peanuts off your hands and reuse them (why not accept free supplies that they use and normally have to buy).

I like the more eco-friendly "eco foam" peanuts.  These are made from corn and potato starch, which is a renewable resource, and can even be dissolved in water without polluting pollute ground water.  Another positive attribute of eco foam is that it is a wicked fun, nontoxic craft and/or building material with kids.  If you dab a foam piece onto a wet sponge or paper towel, the moisture causes the foam to make its own "glue."  Just press and hold one piece to another piece, count to five to "set." Wet and stick more pieces and keep going. Using the "dab-and-stick" technique, you can create endless shapes, animals, jewelry, build structures, your imagination is the limit.  Here's a link for eco foam

So, if versatile sustainable eco foam packaging is available, why oh why would people use Styrofoam packing peanuts and clog landfills?   Given the fact that there ARE sustainable options for packaging, perhaps for the good of the Earth, Styrofoam peanuts should be banned?  Just sayin...

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