Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Do You Do With Your Change?

Dad has lots of coins in jars and containers all over his office. I have no idea why he doesn't cash it all in and buy me some Popeye's with the money he would get, but the coins just sit and collect dust. When I found this program the other day, Dad was the first person I told.

What if I told you that turning in your coins for cash is good for the environment? It's true. Billed as a new form of recycling, Coinstar's program Change for our Earth hopes to raise awareness about how turning in your coins is good for Mother Earth.

I had no idea that there is an estimated $10 billion in coins sitting idle in U.S. households. $10 billion? I could buy a lot of Popeye's with that! If just 10% were cashed in, these 15 billion coins would make a huge dent in our country's coin needs. When people keep coins in their homes, new coins must be made to keep the supply of coins in circulation constant. By cashing coins in, the number of new coins that need to be produced is lowered, thus the natural resources to produce them are saved.

According to the Change for our Earth website, if 15 billion coins were reused, the following savings could be realized by avoiding primary copper production (all coins contain copper):

Water Consumption = 86 million showers
Primary Energy Consumption = energy from 4.3 million 60-watt light bulbs
Carbon Emissions = 11,262 cars off the road for one year
Waste Materials (overburden) = 5.6 million pick-up truck loads

There's a change calculator on their website so you can see how reusing change in your home can help the environment. Simply pick a container size to calculate your environmental savings. I'm not sure how much change Dad has, so I chose the 3-gallon bucket. My savings if cashed in would be: 7,771 liters of water, 153 kwh of energy consumption, and 11,993 lbs of geological waste. Wow!

Now I know what you're thinking. This is just greenwashing and it's Coinstar's way of generating business. I disagree, at least about the greenwashing. Coinstar is in the business to make money, but once you read the facts and look at the figures, it makes sense to cash in your coins. Even if you do it for free at your bank, just do it.

If you want to use Coinstar, they have machines everywhere. The closest location to our house is at a grocery store. There is a fee to use their services, but they will count your coins for free if you choose to take the value of your change in gift cards or eCertificates. You can even donate your change to a non-profit, but I don't know if you will be charged the fee for this option. I hope not because all the money should go to the non-profit.

So what are you waiting for? The average household has $90 is loose change just laying around the house. In between the sofa cushions, in the junk drawer, in the car, and in containers, change is all around you. Get searching and see what you will find. Check out to find locations near you and get your change on!

No comments: