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Styrofoam is made from a material called polystyrene. Styrofoam is a very lightweight and durable product and lends itself to many useful purposes. Although Styrofoam is a petroleum-based material made from harmful chemicals such as styrene and benzene, it is still commonly used in making a lot of things. Styrofoam is also bad for the environment as it is not recyclable and takes a long time to break down. But for now it is a cheap and adaptable material popular in many products.
Packing Peanuts and other Packing Materials
Styrofoam packing peanuts are one of the most common uses for Styrofoam. Packing peanuts can be found in boxes holding fragile or breakable materials, which can be anything from expensive computers to fresh-baked cookies.
Other Styrofoam packing materials include Styrofoam blocks, sheets and custom-shaped packaging materials such as those used to fit the contours of computer and television monitors.
Food and Drink Holders
Styrofoam is a common material for food and drink holders and packaging. These include coffee cups, coolers, egg cartons, to-go boxes, plates and bowls.
Arts and Crafts
Styrofoam is easily altered and is used in a variety of arts and crafts projects. Sculpture is a very common use for Styrofoam as Styrofoam is light-colored and lightweight and lends itself to large projects that require significant decoration. Specially made Styrofoam shapes such as spheres, cones and bricks are made solely for the purpose of arts and crafts projects.
Styrofoam is a very insulating material and is often used as insulation in buildings. For example, Styrofoam is a popular garage door insulator.
Styrofoam is also highly buoyant and often used in flotation blocks, such as those used in party boats, rafts, docks and other floating platforms.
Styrofoam looks a lot like cake, and is often used in cake displays or blanks. It can be covered with icing and other colored material to even more resemble a real cake. Just don't eat it.
Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.