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Reusing Styrofoam

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Styrofoam on White Background

Styrofoam is one of those manmade products that lasts forever in the landfill or ocean, so think about reusing it. This is a guide about reusing Styrofoam.

Solutions: Reusing Styrofoam

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Craft: Styrofoam Stars

Make Styrofoam plates into cute hanging stars after rinsing and letting dry (or brushing off crumbs). I used a stencil of a star for my patterns and cut these out using craft scissors. They are strung on regular sewing thread with a few beads at the top.
This is the result of only 2 plates!

By melody_yesterday from Otterville, MO

Tip: Use Styrofoam Peanuts in Bottom of Hanging Baskets

When planting hanging baskets, put Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom instead of stones. The plants do not stand in water and the baskets will not be so heavy.

By soochatty from Middletown, DE

Tip: Recycling Unrecyclable #6 Styrofoam

I cut out the logos from the Styrofoam cups and cover them with see through plastic. I then glue them to a sheet (e.g.) a poem I made up and give as gifts. Or use as a scrapbook page.

Jewelry can be made out of #6 Styrofoam too. Shapes can be cut out for children to color and paste. Patterns can also be traced on #6 and cut out. The original pattern can be saved because you traced it on to the #6 sheet of Styrofoam.

Small tear in clothes: Cover with foil covered Styrofoam and jazz up your outfit. Sew this on with clear nylon thread. Beautiful!

Use empty egg containers to grow beginning seeds or have kids cover empty/clean coffee cups (#6) with construction paper. Have them color it and paste on to the coffee cup. They can grow a small plant and give as a gift.

Small shapes can be cut out of #6 Styrofoam to be used as knitting markers when hand or machine knitting. Book markers can also be made out of #6 sheet Styrofoam. Letters can be cut out of #6 white Styrofoam and colored, glued, different color glitter! Makes great artwork for a project.

Jewelry/earrings can be made out of #6 Styrofoam and you can add beads to jazz up the jewelry. You can embroider on top of the Styrofoam for embellishment. You can cut out shapes with the #6 non recyclable coffee lids too!

The non-recyclable Styrofoam #6 actually becomes recyclable.

By lizzy9 from MO

Tip: Reuse Styrofoam Trays for Crafts

I've been doing a lot of crafting making small felt and cloth toys. They measure about 2 - 4 inches. With so many little pieces (and a dog who waits at my feet for fabric scraps!), I needed some way to keep track of everything. I'd been keeping foam meat trays (bleached and washed), trying to find a use.

Now, my little pieces and patterns are pinned to the back of the tray. Not only do I keep everything, but I can also design things by moving pieces around and keeping them in place with pins! I also put the pins in at an angle so I don't get poked. I 'drill' a hole at the top of the tray with a chopstick, thread a piece of string and hang it from thumb tacks on my cork board! Now I can see my projects and find everything I need!

By DannieB

Tip: Reducing Weight of Large Pots

When filling huge flowerpots, reduce the weight and the amount of soil you need by filling the bottom with recycled Styrofoam peanuts or even chunks of Styrofoam. I get pieces when I need them from the dumpster behind a furniture and accessories store.

By Linda

Tip: Styrofoam as Perlite Substitute

Perlite is exellent for amending soil used for container grown plants and for starting seedlings in a soil or soiless medium. It insures better drainage and aeration which results in a larger, healthier root system.

I grow lots of plants in containers and particularly in concrete mixing tubs sunken into the ground. Buying enough Perlite for all my containers has become cost prohibitive. I have found a very good substitute.

Thick styro meat trays which have been thoroughly cleaned and scissored into half inch strips and then into about half inch squares are my substitute. An average meat tray will yield about 1 1/2 cups of these little squares. They are put into a blender with enough added water to float the squares near the top. Blending for about 1-2 minutes and then draining in a sieve will give you a nice Perlite substitute. It has the consistency of coarse sand, but very lightweight.

Note: Thin meat trays will not work. They produce an airy, snowflake like product which tends to blow away in the breeze and does not provide any real aeration benefits.

Styrofoam as Perlite Substitute

By

Tip: Reuse Meat Tray for Art Projects

Recycled meat tray with child's artStyrofoam meat trays or plates make great bases for children's drawings or decoupage projects.

Source: My granddaughter's creation

By Kathy from Florence, CO

Editor's Note: Trays that were used for raw meats or cannot be easily sterilized should not be used.

Tip: Reuse Styrofoam

Styrofoam peanuts are great filler for re-potting plants. Use Styrofoam meat trays to trace out your switch plate and use as insulation. Use cookie cutters to make weather resistant decorations.

Styrofoam! I re-use all I can. When drying starched items (ie: ornaments), I cover a strip of Styrofoam with plastic wrap, stretch to form and pin to place.

Use Styrofoam anywhere you can and it won't reach our landfills. It's not to late to do something to recycle, all we can. Things I can't use, I trade with my friends.

By Keeper from NC

Tip: Using Styrofoam Blocks

From Styrofoam blocks taken from a new TV box, I created 4 different organizers and a wall flower display with dried or artificial flowers.

I made organizers for my desk, bedroom night stand, bathroom sink top and kitchen counter. Each block came with 2 holes, 6 1/2 inches long and 3 inches deep, 1 inch wide and one other hole 3 inches long, 3 inches deep and 1 inch wide The length of each entire block is 22 inches by 6 inches high and 4 1/2 inches wide.

On the desk and bedroom organizer, I cut their size to 13 1/4 inches in length. The Desk Organizer stores craft knife pens and pencils glue stick note pad, bills to be paid, postage stamps in book, a few different size envelopes, and even a small chain of paperclips.

The Bedroom Organizer holds 3 plastic tubes to put loose change in It also holds various change wrappers, a pencil and pen, a note pad and a place to hold an empty cd case or to put my wallet, keys and watch.

The Bathroom Organizer had a built in soap dish or a place to lay your watch or rings tray.

In the kitchen, the whole small section was used to store plastic utensils, while the 2 larger ones stored favorite recipes cards and coupon organizers. The soap dish side holds about a dozen dish rags. And, yes, I kept the kitchen organizer away from all heat.

Now for the wall centerpiece/artificial or dried flower planter. Cut it to size and turn it to the solid side. Decorate with colored magazine pictures. Arrange your flowers then either hang on wall with picture hangers or display on tables or counters.

Decorating these Styrofoam blocks should be done to your tastes.I prefer using parts of landscape from magazines pictures cut to fit. This is, in my opinion, the hardest part. I cover the picture over with plastic wrap. I fasten the pictures with plain straight pins.

So, there you go! The next time you buy a TV or other appliance, don't just right away discard the Styrofoam. Make something useful out of it.

Oh I guess you want to know what tools I used.

  • My Imagination
  • A craft knife
  • old magazines (pictures)
  • scissors
  • A box of plain straight pins
  • Either picture wire or just plain hangers
  • Dried or artificial flowers
  • The time it takes to create these things

For me it took a many an hour to select and cut out the right pictures to size. I wish I could show you them, but I don't have a scanner.

Good Luck To You All, Happy Crafting.

By Mr. Thrifty from Shermans Dale, PA

Tip: Use Styrofoam in Large Pots

Planting large flower pots. Use styrofoam to fill the pots half way. This provides good drainage and makes it easier to move the pots.

By Farmer Val

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Questions

Here are questions related to Reusing Styrofoam.

Question: Ideas for Reusing Styrofoam Coolers

The hospital I work for throws a lot of Styrofoam coolers away. I hate that; what can I use them for? I now plant my outdoor plants in them, but what else?

By Lisa

Question: Crafts Using Styrofoam Trays

Are there any fun or useful suggestions, tips, or samples of items made from Styrofoam trays that meat from the supermarket comes on? Thanks for the consideration and time.

By Dianne


Most Recent Answer

By Linda08/03/2011

I use the trays to hold all the elements of whatever project I am working on at the time - papers, glue, scissors, embellishments, etc. I can stack the trays for the different projects (never able to do just one thing at a time) and have everything on hand when I grab a tray and sit down to work on the project.

Question: Uses for Small Styrofoam Ice Chests

How can I recycle small Styrofoam ice chests? Medication is delivered in these ice chests once a month and they are really piling up. Inside the ice chests are ice packets that I can't find another use for. Any advise on how to recycle the Styrofoam? Thanks for helping.

Satellite from Gainesville, FL


Most Recent Answer

By Sherry08/28/2008

Could a nursing home, women's shelter or homeless shelter have a use for them? Or maybe something like Meals on Wheels?

Question: Uses for Styrofoam

Does anyone know of what can be done with large pieces of styrofoam like computers and stereos are packed in? I have a bunch and don't want to just send it to the landfill. (Originally published 2000-07-28)

Marianne


Most Recent Answer

By manulind (Guest Post)07/02/2008

If you have the right tools, there are a lot of things you can do with Styrofoam...crafts, insulation, etc.

Here is a company that sells a variety of foam cutters:

http://www.foamcuttingtools.com

Cheers!

Photos

Below are photos related to this guide.

Styrofoam is Great for Holding Nails and Other Hardware

When assembling an item that comes with squares of hardware such as bookcases, you can put the nails and other hardware in the Styrofoam to keep them from rolling around. You can also arrange them as to which ones you need to be able to get to first.

By Robyn F. from Tri-Cities, TN

Block of Styrofoam with nails and screws pushed partway into it

Use Styrofoam to Transport Hot Items

In trying to keep the landfill free of styrofoam, I clean and reuse mine for a lot of things. I use styrofoam under planters, as trays for under craft projects (like those using glitter), etc.

Today, I was nuking some spuds for fried potatoes and transference them from the glass tray to the cutting board. Spuds tend to roll off if carried far, so I popped on a tray and they transferred just perfectly. You can do the same for hot bowls of cereal, soup, or anything you need a little bit more "friction" and help with spillage. I hope this helps!

By Poor But Proud from Sweet Home, OR