Styrofoam is a brand name for polystyrene that is trademarked and produced by the Dow Company. It’s manufactured from petroleum and is stamped with the recycling triangle logo with a number 6 inside the triangle.
Unfortunately, the manufacturing process for polystyrene is toxic and it takes a very long time to break down after use. Styrofoam, or polystyrene, in the environment can be harmful to animals that may ingest it. It’s imperative that polystyrene be reused or recycled to keep it out of landfills.
If you have a recycling center or transfer station that will accept polystyrene, then you are fortunate. If not, you can avoid polystyrene as much as possible and reuse it to help it have a smaller environmental impact.
Alternatives to Polystyrene
According to the Recycling Revolution website, Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups every year. Instead of purchasing polystyrene cups, buy paper when disposables are needed. Or, choose to use real cups and glasses that can be washed and reused. Carry a coffee mug in your purse or car to use at events where Styrofoam cups are the only choice for hot beverages.
Avoid Styrofoam peanuts and packaging materials when putting packages together. Instead, wrap items in thick layers of newspaper and surround with crumpled newspaper. Items that aren’t breakable don’t need any extra protection. Breakable items can be packaged in shredded paper for extra cushioning. If you absolutely need to use Styrofoam peanuts, try to find used polystyrene on E-bay, Craig’s List or Free Cycle.
If possible, avoid buying items that are excessively packaged in polystyrene. Look for comparable items that are minimally packaged. Or, buy second-hand products and avoid the packaging completely.
If you can’t recycle Styrofoam, look for ways to reuse polystyrene. You can store Styrofoam peanuts and other polystyrene packaging materials to reuse for future packages. Sell an abundance of polystyrene packaging materials on E-bay or Craig’s List. Or, offer it for free on Free Cycle. Many people are looking for used packaging to save money and take a smaller toll on the environment.
Styrofoam doesn’t have to be tossed in landfill. Try to recycle it, but if that’s not possible, look for alternatives to typical polystyrene products. And, find ways to reuse the polystyrene that comes into your household.
A Recycling Revolution website, Recycling Facts
Earth911.com, How Plastic #6 is Recycled