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One of my kids has asked for a bean bag for their room. I'm hesitant, mainly because of the styrofoam/plastic filler beans which (I assume) are generally terrible for the environment when they eventually get disposed of.

I know I could look into reusing packaging peanuts or similar, but that isn't a great alternative; it still doesn't solve the eventual end-of-life problem, and I don't exactly keep bags of packaging filler lying around so I'd have to go scrounge around or dumpster dive.

I've also heard of using old clothes as filler, but I can imagine that would be heavy, and not exactly the most comfortable option either.

Is there a better solution for bean bag filler, ideally with similar properties to traditional beans (lightweight and spongy), that's at least a bit better for the environment?

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  • Not all old clothes are heavy. Old knitwear or tights (pantyhose) work well.
    – aucuparia
    Nov 10 '20 at 9:40
  • If you drop the lightweight and spongy requirement, there a natural options like many types of seeds (even actual dry beans) and wood shavings
    – stijn
    Nov 11 '20 at 19:14
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Polystyrene recycles well. I’d look at intercepting some. Yes, you didn’t like this option. But it’s the best one I can think of off the top of my head.

Additional ideas:

Partially fill the bag with an inflated truck inner-tube or a few air mattresses, or heavy duty beach ball. This reduces the pellets.

Also:

If you are intercepting a waste product, so that it spends a few years in a beanbag chair, you at worst are doing no additional harm. By the end of it's life as a bean bag, there may be better ways to recycle, or better ways to dispose.

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Rice hulls , and I think other small grain hulls should be very good . Some pillows are stuffed with rice hulls ( the TV advertisements claim they are wonderful ).

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