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Post-COVID Sustainability Concepts — It’s (Yes, Finally) Time To Toss The Penny (And All Coins?)

If you ask anyone what they learned during COVID, odds are most people would say, “wash your hands, don’t touch your face.” Two good, solid takeaways that can help prevent the spread of disease and are good general practice for life during COVID and post-COVID (if that is a reality anytime soon or not is a topic for others).

If you ask anyone what they learned during COVID, odds are most people would say, “wash your hands, don’t touch your face.” Two good, solid takeaways that can help prevent the spread of disease and are good general practice for life during COVID and post-COVID (if that is a reality anytime soon or not is a topic for others).

What about — “don’t use coins?” With all of the focus on hand sanitizer, wouldn’t it just be good to get to a place where we just touch less stuff? Especially things like plastic, on which COVID can live longer than any other surface (up to 9 days!). But metals, which provide a 4–5 day life for COVID to hang out on, are something we touch a lot — especially if we use coins for transactions.

It’s a pretty open and shut case from a public health perspective: passing coins around is just not smart!

Can we *finally* get rid of the penny?

We have known for a long time that pennies cost taxpayers more than they are worth. A study in 2014 found it cost us 1.66 cents to make each cent. Hmm. Another in 2016 found it cost 1.43. Even an MBA student from Trump University could probably (mmm, probablyyyy?) tell you that that’s not a good investment. So, okay, open and shut case on the financial side.

What about the ecological footprint? The same research from the Smithsonian Magazine article linked above found that:

  • In 2014, the Mint made more than 8 billion f**king pennies. This used more than 21,000 tons of zinc and more than 560 tons of copper.
  • 86% of all copper mined and used for consumer products in 2014 was for F**KING COINS.
  • “Not a single penny made today is recycled.”
  • Roughly 167,000 gigajoules of energy was required to make these STUPID F**KING COINS. That’s roughly 46.4 million kilowatt-hours, enough to drive a Tesla 200,000,000 miles.
  • There was no estimate of how much water was used or pollution released, but you can be sure, they’re both substantial.

Open and shut case on the ecological side. 

And if you need any more motivation, consider that COVID has actually already interrupted the coin supply and people are moving away from cash entirely because, as pundits guess, people don’t want to touch coins anymore! Society is already moving toward being cash-less.

How about it folks? How do we make our society safer, less corrupt, and slow global climate disruption all at the same time? Call your congressperson and demand an end to F**King pennies. And then the other coins, too.

I made my first petition on Change.org, so if you’re into it, please sign here!

 
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Written By

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 13,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 17 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

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