Can You Recycle Styrofoam? Yes, You Can!

When you think about the things you want to reuse in your home, you probably think about wood products, glass items, and even stone. But styrofoam probably doesn’t cross your mind as you throw styrofoam away most of the time.

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But did you know that you can recycle styrofoam? Yep. Not only can you take it to have it recycled for you, but you can also turn it into glue and even use it for some pretty fun holiday projects around the house.

What Is Styrofoam?

So, you’ve probably used styrofoam many times before. Maybe it was in the form of styrofoam cups or maybe it was in the form of holiday decorations. The material has been around for decades, but do you know what it is?

Styrofoam is made out of styrene, a petroleum-based product through polymerization. It is pressurized and compacted to form boards that are carved and cut to create styrofoam products. But not all styrofoam is real Styrofoam. 

The term Styrofoam is actually trademarked. Styrofoam refers to a rigid board insulation invented in 1941, trademarked, and known for its distinctive blue color. That’s why it is often called blue board.

However, today, we are going to talk about styrofoam, the material invented due to the blue board. We aren’t referring to Styrofoam, the insulation alone. So keep this in mind as we discuss its recyclability. 

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Is Styrofoam Recyclable?

Both Styrofoam and styrofoam can be recycled. However, large pieces will not be excepted by your garbageman because it is filling up landfills so fast that about 25% of California landfills is nothing but styrofoam. 

Method 1: Look For Recycling Centers

If you have a recycling center nearby, then call and ask them if they accept styrofoam. They will ask a series of questions if they are interested which will involve what the styrofoam was used for and if there are any labels on it. 

This is similar to the way they would ask questions when you call about recycling a mattress. Both of these things can be difficult to get rid of but at least styrofoam is light and easy to move on your own.

Method 2: Reuse It For Packing 

If you have styrofoam from packing then pack that packing styrofoam away and use it for your next shipment. If you don’t ship anything, you can still use the styrofoam for packing things away in storage.

Just never use styrofoam to pack food or medicine. It should be kept away from things that you will consume as well as from baby products. Styrofoam can emit over time chemicals that can cause health problems. 

Method 3: Ask USPS

This is a fun way to recycle your styrofoam. You can call USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another delivery service. One of them will usually take the styrofoam off of your hands and reuse it or turn it into something else. 

Not all services will do this but many of them will. So call around and ask a few of them before you give up. The next thing you know, you may be using those packing peanuts in a to-go box at your favorite restaurant. 

Method 4: Turn It Into Glue

You heard that right. There is something called limonene, or orange extract, that can actually be sprayed onto the styrofoam. After some time, the styrofoam will dissolve into a glue with a super-strong bond.

Who couldn’t use more super glue around the house? It can be very useful and often safer than gorilla glue which can really make a mess of things and often gets stuck on the skin and hair, as you may have heard. 

Holiday Projects With Recycled Styrofoam 

It’s about that time of year again. The holidays are just around the corner, which means it is time to start thinking about decorations. It’s never too early to think about decorating for the next holiday. 

Pear Place Holders

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Because it is the ambiguous pear used in this tutorial, you can use it for any holiday. The colors you paint the pear with will change or the fruit itself will change if you prefer apples or orange instead.

Foam fruit is easy to find and usually comes in white, so it will take any color. In this case, they are painted beautifully and used as placeholders. But you can use them as anything that you can imagine.

Greeting cards, Christmas countdowns, and more. This is so simple and has so many options that you can customize it for any holiday. Try using styrofoam eggs to decorate with paint for Easter Sunday dinner. 

Pumpkin Candy Bowl

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If you are more practical then you probably prefer this pumpkin candy bowl instead of a simply decorated pumpkin. You can place these on your porch to hand candy out to kids on Halloween. It’s so smart! 

But don’t worry about the mess because this isn’t a real pumpkin. This is a styrofoam pumpkin that has the top cut out. If yours isn’t hollowed out, don’t worry, they are fairly easy to hollow out. Just remember to keep the top for a lid.

Foam Bell Ornament 

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This one is simple enough that even the kids can make some. It is easy to customize as you can make the tree any color and add any details that you want. In this case, they used blue to wrap around the tree.

A small bell was stuck in the bottom of the cone to act as a trunk and a star ornament was the North Star of the tree that also worked to turn the tree into an ornament. These are so adorable and fun to make. 

For an even more unique tree that is fun for kids, yet less elegant, you can use multiple different colors of pipe cleaner. Start with green and then decorate the tree with different colors of pipe cleaners for ornaments.

Festive Snow Wreath

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For this simple wreath, all you need to do is glue foam balls to a foam ring and then decorate it. The base of it really is that simple because anything that you add just makes it look more magical and personal.

You can add fake snow to the glue on the weather to give it an even more magical look. Add ribbons, shiny ornaments, and sprigs of green if you want to bring life to the wreath. Or keep it simple for an entirely different look.

Elf Hat Christmas Ornaments

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These Christmas ornaments are adorable as well. They look like little elf hats and can be super fun to make with the family to see what their interpretation of an elf hat will be. You will notice a large variety.

All you need to do is wrap yarn around the cone and add a cotton ball to the top. This completes the simple elf hat. Anything else you add will add your own personality. Use sequins and more to customize. 

One fun thing to do is use hemp rope to wrap around to give a rustic look. You can also add burlap to these to give it more of a country flare. Or, use rainbow yarn for a great statement piece on your tree.

Paper Mache Eggs

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Paper mache is a really fun way to decorate just about any craft. In this case, you can either paint over the paper mache or leave it to represent a more sophisticated look in a room any time of the year.

If you do paint them, they just might look like an Easter decoration, so be careful doing so. If you want to use them instead of real eggs for Easter due to an allergy or the smell, then this is a great alternative. 

Versatile “Cement” Sign

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This cement sign isn’t really made of cement at all. It is completely made of cement at all. It is just a foam heart cut out and painted to look like cement. You’d be surprised how light it is when it looks like this. 

There are a couple of ways to achieve this look. You can use different shades of grey and mix them around or you can use black and white and mix them in different depths on the sign. Both work fine.

Then you can create a pattern with stencils and a knife/skewer. After you do, use black paint to fill in the hole to make it look like cement all the more. The end result is stunning. No one will know that it is foam.

Old School Trailer Pumpkin

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What do you need to create this masterpiece? Oh, just a foam pumpkin and some paint. Yep! There may be a better use for pumpkins than Jack-O-Lanterns now. You can use any decorated pumpkin for Halloween.

In this case, it’s an adorable trailer pumpkin created to give that beach bum look. We all need a taste of the beach and a bit of relaxation in October and especially this year. This really captures a great essence. 

Festive Foam Ornament

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If you like classic ornaments for your tree but want something a little flashy, this is perfect for you. All you need are sequins and a foam ball. This is yet again another fun family craft project for Christmas. 

There isn’t really a wrong way to do this one. You can add sequins, beads, and anything else that you want. It’s all about transforming that foam ball into the picture in your mind, so get as creative as you can!