Top Ways to Recycle Polystyrene - aka Styrofoam

Posted on July 12, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Styrofoam is a trademark of the Dow Company but the material itself is called polystyrene. Like so many other plastics, it's all around us - very commonly used in packing material as peanuts or expanded foam, in coffee cups, plates, food trays, fabrication of car parts and a wide variety of other products. It’s one of the most invasive types of plastic that's extremely difficult to get rid of. So it’s important if you can find ways to reuse it safely.


If you keep potted plants on your patio or balcony, use the polystyrene to fill the bottom half of your pots before adding the soil and plants. Just break it up into smaller pieces beforehand.

The benefits are threefold:

  1. Your pot will be light enough to be moved around more easily.
  2. The polystyrene will help retain the moisture for your plants so you won’t have to water as often.
  3. You won't need to use as much soil.

Note: I don't recommend this for plant you will be eating, like herbs or edible flowers, as the Styrofoam may leach into the plant.

Mailing Ues

Hang on to loose polystyrene peanuts and use them to cushion the contents in any parcels you are posting. Companies that sell packing materials will sometimes accept these peanuts.

If you don't need them for parcels, use these 'peanuts' to lightly plug the small hole in small garden pots or containers when potting up non-edible indoor plants.

Craft Uses

Styrofoam trays and containers from the grocery store can be used as craft material for kids to make all kind of decorations and holiday ornaments. Cut out basic shapes from a child’s coloring book and use these as templates. Get the kids to decorate the cutouts by recycling and reusing ribbons, candy wrappers, or whatever else you have on hand.

Household Uses

Polystyrene trays also are good containers for homemade cookies, cakes for your local church or craft bazaar. Make sure you clean them well with soap and hot water before using and never use the ones that held chicken or meat. 

Categories: Plastics

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