Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Easy to be Green: Pesky Packing Peanuts

Ho! Ho! Ho!.....(Oh! Oh!Oh!) As the packages arrive, and styrofoam pellets are stuck to your clothes, hair, and 'whatever' !!(FYI: Grab a fabric softener sheet!)...Wondering how to reuse the polystyrene packing & peanuts, other than the OBVIOUS...send them on to someone else? Those pesky packing peanuts don't have much recycling potential, but they can be reused, which is even better. Many packing, shipping and moving stores will take used styrofoam peanuts. Just pack them up in (recycled) plastic bags, and drop them off next time you are nearby. Suitable businesses can be located under "packaging" in the yellow pages. Typical chain stores include Mail Boxes Etc. and The Postal Annex. For a partial list of local collection sites, try the Plastic Loosefill Council at 1-800-828-2214 (24 Hours).
Some peanuts are not made of plastic. If you find a peanut that looks like a cheese puff, try licking it
. (Or, you may prefer to drop it in water to see if it dissolves!)
One type of peanut is made from vegetable starch, and dissolves almost instantly in water. These taste somewhat like rice cakes, and are just as safe in a compost bin. If you buy peanuts, strongly consider switching to this type. They're better for the environment, and much much easier to get rid of.
Disposal of rigid foam blocks (such as those protecting new equipment) is problematic. The materials are very lightweight, they're made from natural gas: it is easy to end up with a net environmental loss just transporting the stuff. For most individuals recycling this material is not worth it, though future research into local small-scale reprocessing may change this. If you have large quantities of material, a list of collection sites is available from
The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. Have fun packaging, wrapping and unwrapping....and brushing off and vacuuming up those pesky pieces! REALTOR® gramEpat

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