How to Reuse Styrofoam

Styrofoam is toxic to manufacture and constitutes, by volume, as much as thirty percent of landfills worldwide. Without the presence of certain solvents, it will last practically forever without breaking down. Finding ways to recycle Styrofoam at home, without waiting for "the government" to come up with a solution, is practical and possibly necessary for the health of the biosphere.


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    Do not purchase Styrofoam in the first place. Try to use other alternatives which are more biodegradable. For example, when you can buy eggs in either cardboard or Styrofoam, choose to buy the cardboard-packaged eggs.
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    When you receive Styrofoam pellets in the form of packaging, reuse them in the next package you will be sending out. This way, you are not creating any more demand for Styrofoam products. If you have no packaging use coming up soon, take your Styrofoam peanuts to a nearby packaging store and donate them.
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    Tumble Styrofoam peanuts or big chunks of Styrofoam into a planter in place of heavy rocks for drainage. They work perfectly. Also if you have huge planters it makes them that much lighter. If you don't have peanuts, just break up the formed packaging foam into your pot. It is messy with little beads going loose.
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    Investigate solvents which can be used to safely break down your Styrofoam. Pure orange rind oil, d-Limonene, is known to work.
    • Pour biodegradable solvent into a large container.
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    • Add Styrofoam to the container. The solvent will slowly break down the Styrofoam.
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    • The resulting liquid will be very sticky and is perfect for use as a permanent glue around the house.
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    Keep unneeded Styrofoam in a trash bag until it is full, then take it to your local Zip & Ship or similar shipping store. They will usually accept free offers of your Styrofoam and re-use it for packing.
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  7. Image titled Make a Cake Pop Holder Step 11
    Use Styrofoam as the base for cake pops or candy bouquets.


  • Use a paintbrush to apply the solution as a glue.
  • It seals adobe bricks (among a multitude of other things). Just paint it on and let it dry.
  • A print stamp can be made.
  • If you have an empty egg carton, use plastic Easter eggs to hold small items (such as cash). In fact, you can put emergency money in there in case of a burglary! (What burglar looks through a carton of eggs for money?)


  • Don't get the solvent or the solution on your hands; use gloves that won't rip and are completely enclosed (no holes or permeable fabric).
  • Follow all of these steps outside and with plenty of fresh air. Possible toxins and/or flammable substances released include benzene, styrene, and ethylene.
  • While becoming increasingly popular as a more natural alternative to other solvents, d-Limonene is still a little hard to find in the United States. See external links below for some help, or try searching online or in your local hardware store.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bags to gather Styrofoam peanuts for donating
  • Solvent
  • Styrofoam cups, packing material, plates, etc.
  • Paintbrush
  • Gloves
  • Half-gallon to 5 gallon (18.9 L) plastic container to hold solution

Sources and Citations

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