• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler

New neighbors with styrofoam

 
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
747
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have some new neighbors that moved into to a long vacant property about 1/2 mile away.   They told me they have an outbuilding full of styrofoam ...in various forms.  They asked me if I had a use for it, and I turned them down.   Now I am asking myself if I do have a use for it.   What use would/could I have for a large amount in styrofoam (containers, broken panels, etc)?
 
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: Eilean a' Cheo
65
transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nasty stuff....Very lightweight, and insulative.  Tends to be fragile and you'll never be rid of it.  I'd give it a miss personally.
 
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 7368
Location: SW Missouri
3436
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you constrain it well, it's very useful. Making cloth cushion type things filled with foam could insulate the bottom edge of your high tunnels. Put it between layers of wood for insulated doghouses, it's an excellent air control barrier if it's intact.

I use it a lot. It's often in trash, and I'm a trash picker type :D
 
pioneer
Posts: 65
Location: Central Virginia, Zone 7.
16
kids forest garden trees chicken cooking bee building solar
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not a fan of styrofoam.  Bulky, difficult to get rid of, limited utility after its intended use has finished.  And lasts forever, unfortunately.  What a tax on the environment that stuff is.

That's why there was an abandoned property with a building full of the stuff!  Can't get rid of it.   Could have just as well been an outbuilding full of old tires.

I recommend you stand fast and stay firm with turning them down.  If you show an interest in it, they may start delivering pickup truck loads of the stuff your way!





 
master steward
Posts: 4824
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1487
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You could feed it to those styrofoam-eating worms and turn it into carbon dioxide.

https://permies.com/t/50485/styrofoam
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 7368
Location: SW Missouri
3436
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's not permie, but I use a lot of the stuff. To my eyes, it's being wasted, and anything removed from the waste stream is a good thing. Especially something that is hard to dispose of. If properly constrained it's quite useful. I wouldn't buy it new, and I'd rather it didn't get used for a lot of the things it's used for (like packaging material, that's a TOTAL waste of a high energy embodied product) but I will happily harvest a bunch of it that is headed someplace worse.
 
gardener
Posts: 3376
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
986
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pearl Sutton wrote:It's not permie, but I use a lot of the stuff. To my eyes, it's being wasted, and anything removed from the waste stream is a good thing. Especially something that is hard to dispose of. If properly constrained it's quite useful. I wouldn't buy it new, and I'd rather it didn't get used for a lot of the things it's used for (like packaging material, that's a TOTAL waste of a high energy embodied product) but I will happily harvest a bunch of it that is headed someplace worse.



It's fun how people with similar values can reach diametrically opposite conclusions.  I don't disagree with a word about the benefit of putting it to use, if I could find a way to do it.  But for me, the key phrase is "properly constrained".  I simply don't know how to do that with styrofoam.  Every piece of stryo eventually breaks down into those horrid little white pellets.  If it's built into the wall, then when my building rots, falls down, or blows away in a tornado, those little pellets go everywhere.  If I sew it up inside textiles, those textiles eventually rot or fail, then, same story.  It might work for me this week, this month, this year, but unless I get lucky enough to die before my containment systems fail, I'm going to meet those dreadful little pellets all over my property eventually.  

I went through this with plastic containers for my container garden in the early years.  I was desperate, I would use anything.  Some things (like 2l soda bottles) fail gracefully, and can be reintroduced to the waste stream when they get too broken down to use.  But most plastics (unless built thick or with UV blocker chemicals) eventually turn into little shards.  I'm still dealing with the hangover of those little shards in my soil, from milk bottles, garage sale ice buckets, any kind of dollar store buckets or pails, any kind of cheap plastic containers at all.  I had real good reasons to use cheap plastic containers and I might do it it again in similar circumstances, but it taught me to be careful about taking stuff out of the waste stream if it won't last forever and I'm gonna have a fight trying to pick up the little pieces when it's time to send it on its way to wherever "away" is.  
 
gardener
Posts: 2339
Location: Maine, zone 5
1036
2
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pearl mentioned the high embodied energy....yup, it's pretty much a solid version of oil.  If you have a rocket mass heater you can drop some small pieces in onto the burning wood once the system is going good and hot.  It will flare up as it thermally depolymerizes back into liquid fuel....lots of heat given off so if you can use the heat that would be my way of using it (since I live in the cold north).

There are start up companies out there that take polystyrene products and thermally break them back down to their styrene monomer which can then be used to make new polystyrene products.  That doesn't seem like too bad an option relatively speaking, but probably not yet an easy option at the moment for most folks.  
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1245
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
320
  • Likes 13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Any material that is structural insulation, the kind you pay money for, or big chunks thereof, has value. I would grab it if I had storage or a way to use it.

Otherwise, I would tell them (politely) to get stuffed. You are not in the garbage disposal business. Hell, give them a jar of jam and say "thanks for thinking of me." Primes the pump and dodges the bullet, and next time around there may be sweet pickings.
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
747
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, I haven’t looked at it yet, but this thread tells me I should have a look to be polite.  I will take the lead from Doug and take some hot homemade bread with me ( hey, those canning jars are getting hard to find). Frankly, prior to this thread, I wasn’t going to look.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2608
1010
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Like Pearl, if I can find a way to keep a thing out of the landfills, and put it to good use, I WILL. Especially, if it's free, and if I know the next step for it means adding to the environmental mess it's already worsened, at least once. So, chunks become the space in the bottom of a pot, to lighten the weight of a plant, while providing drainage, for a better crop, or insulation around the interior of my well-house, my chicken run, my gardens, ,or my chicken waterers. And, those horrid little pellets become something mixed with the organics, to aerate the heavy clay soil, even if only in my container plantings. My way of seeing it is, it's already there. It's main damage is already done. My choice of direction is what decides whether the most long-term use can be made of this object that has already been created, or if it will simply go to environmental hell, and take us with it. So, I choose to make it earn its existence, for all I can take from it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 825
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
237
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Friends of mine recently had a Passivhaus built. Under the concrete slab there is a 300 mm thick layer of polystyrene to insulate from the ground. So if you plan any new builds or additions that is a way to lock the stuff up and get a truly beneficial service out of it.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
master pollinator
Posts: 1245
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
320
  • Likes 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am all in favour of reusing, recycling. Totally hardcore.

But the mountain of waste reaches out past Jupiter. You and I have to choose carefully when we bring things home.
 
Posts: 84
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
15
monies cooking building
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi John,  I would love to have that much Styrofoam right now. I need to put it in the ground around my house to help prevent frost heave at the footers. I need to lay a barrier of Styrofoam that is 4 feet wide. I'll dig the trench down 2 feet by hand. It's going to be very costly at the big box store. It may not be echo friendly but I need my house to stop moving so much. Last winter the frost went down 6 feet.
You could also put it over your well line so it doesn't freeze in the winter. If there was something cheaper, more echo friendly, I'd get it in a second. If anyone knows of something that will last 30years please let me know.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 3376
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
986
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Greg Martin wrote:Pearl mentioned the high embodied energy....yup, it's pretty much a solid version of oil.  If you have a rocket mass heater you can drop some small pieces in onto the burning wood once the system is going good and hot.  It will flare up as it thermally depolymerizes back into liquid fuel....lots of heat given off so if you can use the heat that would be my way of using it (since I live in the cold north).  



I carefully avoided going there because I am conflicted about both the safety and ethics of burning plastics.  The amount of embodied energy is ridiculous.  But I used to be an environmental lawyer, and so I was forced to learn slightly more than the average non-STEM bear about the incredible complexity of the toxicity issues when plastics are burned.  A rocket mass heater is not the worst way to do it; multi-million-dollar incinerator setups spend a lot of effort incinerating the chemicals found in the gaseous waste stream (smoke) and my impression is that RMHs are pretty good about getting those gasses really hot and extracting most of the remaining stuff in them that will combust energetically.  But even so, smokes from some plastics are kill-your-lungs-with-one-deep-breath toxic, and we don't have good science on what a sub-lethal whiff does to a person.  Plus the residual ashes can also be really nasty (carcinogenic, teratogenic...).  Even if we are willing to take those risks ourselves, when we make the atmosphere our landfill, we're implicating other people. All that said, my thrifty soul has sometimes been known to rebel at the notion of sending all that lovely embodied energy to a landfill.  I just think it's hard to fit in a permies framework, so if I do it, it's not something I'm prepared to advocate or discuss in detail on this forum.
 
Nancy Reading
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: Eilean a' Cheo
65
transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The embedded energy in plastics is a form of fossil fuel, most are made originally from crude oil or natural gas.  Many will burn reasonably cleanly given controlled conditions (eg polypropylene and polyethylene which are mainly carbon and hydrogen) some are as Dan Boone said really nasty, particularly ones with chlorine like PVC.  I think Polystyrene is one of the more nasty ones since styrene, the chemical molecule that polystyrene is mainly made of is likely to be released on burning, and is harmful.  Personally I would rather see plastic buried than burnt and look upon it as embedded carbon.
Refuse...Reduce...reuse....recycle....I would love to see it reused if you can.  
I wonder if it could be encapsulated somehow and still make use of it's properties...Do you have a use for a floating island perhaps? I'm imagining it either mixed in concrete or encapsulated in a concrete box.  Other than that anything that needs keeping hot or cold?  Pity it isn't practical to ship it to Arthur for his foundations.
 
Greg Martin
gardener
Posts: 2339
Location: Maine, zone 5
1036
2
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nancy Reading wrote:I wonder if it could be encapsulated somehow and still make use of it's properties...Do you have a use for a floating island perhaps? I'm imagining it either mixed in concrete or encapsulated in a concrete box.  Other than that anything that needs keeping hot or cold?  Pity it isn't practical to ship it to Arthur for his foundations.


One thing about styrofoam, if it's in contact with water then overtime the air spaces will fill with water and it will sink.  So if you want to make a lovely floating island you'd want an encapsulant that water can't migrate through, in the short or long term....not any good options that I can think of.  There are videos online of folks breaking the foam up and blending it with concrete to make insulative blocks.  My only issue with it is that that will degrade in time and then the stryofoam will break down into microparticles and then nanoparticles.  Those little buggers get everywhere...they drop in the rain, are in all the foods they test for them.  Maybe burying deep isn't the worst thing....but I just haven't been able to feel good about burying stuff.  Controlled burning with energy recovery or recycling are my favorite options after never making it in the first place.  A quick search returned this article on why to not burn styrofoam at home...so maybe nix that idea!
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
747
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I stopped by my new neighbors, hot bread in hand.   The shed full of styrofoam was low density stuff ....largely decomposing...mixed with plastic bags of garbage..and god knows what.  I am glad I looked.
 
pollinator
Posts: 620
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
200
3
urban books building solar rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John F Dean wrote:Well, I haven’t looked at it yet, but this thread tells me I should have a look to be polite.  I will take the lead from Doug and take some hot homemade bread with me ( hey, those canning jars are getting hard to find). Frankly, prior to this thread, I wasn’t going to look.



I just moved 3 loads of fieldstone and boulders (5 tons? for an upcoming wall project of mine) that I got from a contractor that I met last summer at our town's transfer station. At the time we met, I was loading into my truck  a load of tree limbs that he had just dropped off earlier in the day... conversation turned to him having more larger wood to get rid of...
6 loads of wood (2+ cords?). I go to take a look, his remodel also had a brick walkway, concrete paver patio, and some slate flagging... all needed to go. "Could I have them?" "sure!" 7 more loads of materials. Later on... I get a call that he'd taken down another tree, so some more wood... (another cord) Stone walls had been built, but there were some piles of stone here and there around the site..."If you have any stone left over, I'll take it." "Okay, I'll let you know."

All this from a chance meeting, a few visits, and a eye open for an opportunity. I had no idea it would have led to that, pretty pleased it did. You never know if they'll "have something else to show you" or "do you know anybody that wants this thing?" or you see something you'd like and ask, like I did.

 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
747
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Kenneth,

While I didn’t take any of the styrofoam, I did make inroads with someone new to the neighborhood.  The contents of the bread cost $0.25.    My property is pretty hidden, so I am sure he heard about me through someone else.  Word gets around ... and it is to my benefit.
 
Posts: 39
Location: South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
21
chicken fiber arts
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Howdy!
I would say that getting in good with the neighbors is the best way to start any relationship that might grow.
I live at the entrance to a cul-de-sac, so everyone on the road has to drive past me. I make sure that when I'm outside  for any reason, I take a moment to look up, wave and smile, and prepare to have a chat.
Most of the time the chat doesn't happen, or they don't want to be seen talking to the Crazy Goose Lady, but I try to hand out a dozen eggs, or a plant start (everyone is getting chives this year, if the native rodents will stop eating them) to every one who is "new to me".

So far, it's gone over pretty well. I'm seen as a "mostly harmless" eccentric, who is usually home, and willing to chat with everyone.
I get sections of my lawn mowed, visitors who drop by to ask me about the chickens, and I have a great acquaintanceship with the local US Post Office.
I haven't been offered any Styrofoam, yet, but I did find two old tires in the side yard which are now in the very back yard while I debate what to do with them, and one of the geese has been in a photo shoot with the local UPS guy.  
Every day, Life is an adventure.

About the Styrofoam? I know the issue has been settled, but I fall, generally, on the Dave Barry side of things - the world has humans and humans created plastic. As we're finding out, plastic never really goes away; it just gets smaller and smaller. Maybe that's what we were put here for (in whatever way you think matters) - to make something new for the greater world. Something permanent. Something plastic.
Not the best philosophy maybe, but if it's already here and we can do something useful with it? Do the useful thing.
Just my 2 cents.
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
747
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Kristine,

I dont have a problem with plastic. If it had been high density styrofoam in 1 ft by 4 ft  pieces and not mixed with garbage, I would have been all over it.  I am not anti plastic.   I agree that it is better that I use it rather than ship it to a dump. I am not even anti new plastic.  I am anti having virtually everything made of plastic.  If plastic virtually lasts for ever, then why would we make stuff that we don’t want to last forever made out of it?  And of course, disposable products made of plastic makes absolutely no sense to me.   My quite unscientific estimate is that 99% of our use of new plastic would be stopped by using this criteria.
 
pollinator
Posts: 512
193
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dan Boone wrote:
 But for me, the key phrase is "properly constrained".  I simply don't know how to do that with styrofoam.  Every piece of stryo eventually breaks down into those horrid little white pellets.  If it's built into the wall, then when my building rots, falls down, or blows away in a tornado, those little pellets go everywhere.  If I sew it up inside textiles, those textiles eventually rot or fail, then, same story.  It might work for me this week, this month, this year, but unless I get lucky enough to die before my containment systems fail, I'm going to meet those dreadful little pellets all over my property eventually.  

I went through this with plastic containers for my container garden in the early years.  I was desperate, I would use anything.  Some things (like 2l soda bottles) fail gracefully, and can be reintroduced to the waste stream when they get too broken down to use.  But most plastics (unless built thick or with UV blocker chemicals) eventually turn into little shards.  I'm still dealing with the hangover of those little shards in my soil, from milk bottles, garage sale ice buckets, any kind of dollar store buckets or pails, any kind of cheap plastic containers at all.  I had real good reasons to use cheap plastic containers and I might do it it again in similar circumstances, but it taught me to be careful about taking stuff out of the waste stream if it won't last forever and I'm gonna have a fight trying to pick up the little pieces when it's time to send it on its way to wherever "away" is.  



Mix them into concrete?

https://www.instructables.com/Styrofoam-Concrete/
 
Posts: 4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have used styrofoam peanuts (recycled from shipping) instead of pebbles at the bottom of containers pots for my balcony garden to reduce weight.
 
pollinator
Posts: 127
Location: Powell River, BC
55
transportation monies cat forest garden trees urban books food preservation cooking fiber arts bee
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Minna Gantz wrote:I have used styrofoam peanuts (recycled from shipping) instead of pebbles at the bottom of containers pots for my balcony garden to reduce weight.



I used to do that, but stopped after a few years when I had to empty some pots. Picking the styrofoam peanuts out of the soil to reuse them got old fast. And they had already started to break down inro smaller chunks.

The best use I’ve found so far for peanuts is as... packaging in outgoing parcels. Ideally, they can continue to travel the world in various parcels indefinitely.
 
Kristine Keeney
Posts: 39
Location: South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
21
chicken fiber arts
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John F Dean wrote:
I dont have a problem with plastic. If it had been high density styrofoam in 1 ft by 4 ft  pieces and not mixed with garbage, I would have been all over it.  I am not anti plastic.   I agree that it is better that I use it rather than ship it to a dump. I am not even anti new plastic.  I am anti having virtually everything made of plastic.  If plastic virtually lasts for ever, then why would we make stuff that we don’t want to last forever made out of it?  And of course, disposable products made of plastic makes absolutely no sense to me.   My quite unscientific estimate is that 99% of our use of new plastic would be stopped by using this criteria.



Oh, don't get me wrong. I have worked in Natural Sciences and been a Wildlife Researcher. I got cross-trained in, as my mentor told me, Natural Science Trivia.
It's always hard to see the "plastic bag trees" being in bloom every Spring.

I wish something could break plastic down into something useful. I have seen more "eco-sensitive" things enter the market and watched them fail after a short run.  
Is it better to turn plastic bottles into carpets or insulation? Maybe. Maybe not. Glass would last longer, but you would need an increase in recycling places, and there would need to be a market for reclaimed glass. It probably wouldn't be a really hard problem, depending on what solutions people can come up with. I will always hold that individuals, working in their private spaces, can solve almost every problem if they are motivated to do so.

The hard part is deciding where to start.  Do we start with getting rid of single use items? Those have their own definition of useless. Who needs to throw away that much plastic cutlery, plastic coated or Styrofoam containers, or the plastic that wraps things individually? Do we need plastic coating on paper plates (there's a two-fer), or is it a healthcare issue? Single use medical supplies make sense being made out of something that can be used once then thrown away, but where does it go then?

Unless there are people willing to purchase those things that are made out of alternative substances, it's not an economically viable change. And that's sad.

Nothing seems more injurious than putting sheets and sheets of plastic, red or black or clear, on your purportedly organic garden. It just gives me chills.

There's nothing I can say about plastic that really underscores how much I dislike things like packing peanuts, or Styrofoam, or ... I look at the desk area upon which this plastic encased computer sits, and see that, aside from a couple of glass or pottery containers, everything is either made *with*, made *of*, or covered in plastic.  Even the zip ties I use as leg bands for the chickens are plastic, though I do intend to, eventually, replace that bit (chickens and chickening) with non plastic, or plastic covered stuff. I do wonder what use can small bits of useless zip ties
be in my little area. I can't use them again, I can't melt them down without Bad Things happening, and I can't take them anywhere and be reassured that they will be reused in their next life as .. some other bit of useless thing.

When I heard about "compostable" or "Environmentally sound" garbage bags, I yelled at the furniture! I just don't understand how people smart enough to turn potato starch (and why waste that in that fashion?) into dissolvable packing peanuts (that are safe to eat. Like I want to encourage people or animals to eat packing peanuts?). Or garbage bags that were supposed to be able to decompose, only someone forgot to tell the genius that landfills are anaerobic environments.
Please, don't let me get onto this rant!

I agree that we should not use plastic as replacements for wood, bamboo, or pressed fiber stuff. It doesn't help anyone to have to justify, or feel they must justify, their decisions on plastic stuff.
So, I take the easier route. Let's find things to do with the plastic that's here, and maybe we can stop making so much more of it. Built in obsolescence of a substance that never truly leaves us is stupidity of a high order; one we do anyway.  
I agree that there needs to be *something* that can be done, preferably in an environmentally sound way. I don't know what, when, or how, though.
 
Posts: 91
Location: Rockwall, TX
8
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have made the Styrofoam/cement/paper "concrete" before. The Styrofoam adds bulk and insulation, the paper adds fiber to help hold it together and Portland cement holds it all together. I used a Toro lawn vacuum with a bag to break up 2x2 chunks of Styrofoam in to pellets and catch them in the bag. It was light and durable and since the Styrofoam is encapsulated in cement it should be stable for many years. The guy I learned from used a mortal mixer and used one bag of portland, five 5 gallon buckets of pellets and (maybe) two buckets of saturated cellulose insulation as a mix. He was building domes by spraying them on an inflated pvc air bag and letting it set them spraying more on until desired insulation factor (thickness) was obtained. Also since the dome had no sand or rock it could be cut with regular tools. He cut one of his domes in half, vertically, and loaded it on a trailer and moved it to another site. I think it was a 20 foot dome.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2898
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
387
books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I definitely wouldn't be taking on someone else's problem like that unless you have a very specific need.

In our place we burn some waste like that. The "rules" such as they are - make sure the wood stove is really hot. Put in small pieces. Crack the door open to get massive draft and ensure complete combustion. Under normal circumstances we would try to put them through recycling where possible, but COVID has totally stuffed up our local waste collections so some bulky stuff needs to be disposed of in other ways (cardboard mostly). I have checked out exhaust - no visible smoke, no smell of partially burned plastics, so I think it is working fine.

We have neighbours with coal fires still, and I figure that a controlled hot burn is far less polluting than that!
 
Posts: 11
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
MELT IT.  I found it turns into a very nice clear coating material.  Just get some XYLENE, put it in a glass jar and push the stryrofoam in.  It will melt quickly.  When it takes a few minutes to melt, then it is saturated.  It can be used as a coating for porous materials.  Use to waterproof electronics.    There is a video on YOUTUBE with a crazy russian spray painting his car with this as a clear coat.  Nice and hard too.  DO NOT USE ACETONE.  Doesn’t melt properly.  
 
Posts: 3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gary Numan wrote: "I'm not a fan of styrofoam.  Bulky, difficult to get rid of, limited utility after its intended use has finished.  And lasts forever, unfortunately.  What a tax on the environment that stuff is.

That's why there was an abandoned property with a building full of the stuff!  Can't get rid of it.   Could have just as well been an outbuilding full of old tires.

I recommend you stand fast and stay firm with turning them down.  If you show an interest in it, they may start delivering pickup truck loads of the stuff your way!"

Our Farmers Market has a person who collects all kinds of styrofoam on the first Saturday of each month. She has been a Godsend. Could it be used like vermiculite or will it float up and away?



 
Cindy Baker
Posts: 3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Greg Martin wrote:Pearl mentioned the high embodied energy....yup, it's pretty much a solid version of oil.  If you have a rocket mass heater you can drop some small pieces in onto the burning wood once the system is going good and hot.  It will flare up as it thermally depolymerizes back into liquid fuel....lots of heat given off so if you can use the heat that would be my way of using it (since I live in the cold north).

There are start up companies out there that take polystyrene products and thermally break them back down to their styrene monomer which can then be used to make new polystyrene products.  That doesn't seem like too bad an option relatively speaking, but probably not yet an easy option at the moment for most folks.  

 I heard a story about burning styrofoam cups at a campfire. I can't say how many cups were burned but birds began to fall from the trees above. Possibly from the noxious fumes. The discussion of mealworms eating the stuff is great but would it encourage more mealworm farming and offset the normal balance of things? As people continue to buy unregulated plastic products from other countries, i.e., giant kid cars and plant pots, via dollar stores etc., styrofoam may be the least of our worries. Definitely think about an item's life expectancy and ultimate end before you buy.
 
Posts: 5
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it is thick with no holes in it, it is good for foundry work.   Also good for insulation IF you put it on the outside of your house.  It is too dangerous on the inside if you house catches fiere.  My house in the Philippines is done in ALL cement and the insulation is on the out side.  Here, however, the insulation is to keep the heat OUT not IN.
 
Posts: 75
Location: Rural North Texas
11
purity solar homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen a bunch of stuff lately about mealworms eating styrofoam.

https://livingearthsystems.com/mealworms-compost-styrofoam/
 
Posts: 15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m in Quintana Roo, México.  It’s hot here.  Traditionally people lived in wooded structures with palm roofs. They still exist but  these  days, many people build with cinder block and pour concrete roofs.  These structures are hot. I’ve seen styrofoam used as a layer below the cement to keep the structure cooler.  This is usually done with purchased styrofoam blocks - but I reckon scraps could be used in some  way for insulation against heat (insulation?)
 
Jerry Sledge
Posts: 91
Location: Rockwall, TX
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What I do is re-grind the Styrofoam with a Toro blower/vacuum/mulcher. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Ultra-260-MPH-340-CFM-Electric-12-Amp-Blower-Vacuum-Mulcher-51619/205746070   I chose this because of the metal fan blade. You can form a mixture of Portland cement, shredded paper and the reground Styrofoam. This is a variation of papercrete. https://homesteadsurvivalsite.com/how-to-make-papercrete/   Mix all components and form into blocks or slabs, depending on what you have to make forms from. A mortar mixer is best, but it can be mixed by hand.
 
This tiny ad will self destruct in five seconds.
trying to save the world with a "pay it forward" attempt
https://permies.com/t/159778/save-world-pay-attempt
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic