Pondering the fate of those plastic peanuts?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

Kevin Pearcey

Oh, those populous, plentiful packing peanuts.

Plundering through a box of the pieces of packing material for a present isn’t the problem (say that three times fast).

It’s what happens after Christmas when the boxes pile up and the peanuts runneth over, so to speak.

What to do? Should those thousands of peanuts be banished to the county landfill as garbage? Along with the tattered Christmas paper remnants and empty toy boxes?

Certainly not, according to the Plastic Loose Fill Council, a national organization that promotes the reuse and recycling of packing peanuts – or, in technical terms, polystyrene loose fill.

The council operates a national Peanut Hotline (800-828-2214) that conscientious consumers can call and find out where they can donate their leftover peanuts.

The council’s website notes that there are over 1,500 such collection sites across the country.

Unfortunately, for Crenshaw

County residents, the nearest – and only Alabama – location is in Birmingham. However, that shouldn’t stop you from bagging up those loose peanuts and seeing that they continue to lead long and productive lives.

Local businesses that ship their products nationally or worldwide will probably generously accept leftover peanuts. The same could be said if you have a friend who frequently sells merchandise on E-Bay, or another Internet auction site.

Donating aside, some suggestions from Good Housekeeping magazine include:

n Stuffing peanuts in an old zip-up pillow case, thereby giving your household cat or dog a comfortable place to bed down.

n Dropping a handful into a jar, spraying them with your favorite perfume to deodorize a room.

n Pouring the peanuts into a plastic bag and using them to cushion fragile items in your suitcase when traveling.

Stores who are interested in joining the Peanut Hotline can visit the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s website at www.loosefillpackaging.com and download a membership form. Membership is $30 per year.