Let it be known that Monday, February 4th of the year 2013 was a glorious day. Why? No more pennies! Well, almost. The Mint has stopped distributing them, but it’s going to take years to get them completely out of circulation. It’s estimated that there are still at least 35 billion of them floating around out there, but personally I would guess higher given people’s tendency to cram the things in jars and forget about them.
If you’re one of those jar people, don’t worry. You won’t have to dig them out and roll them up in a hurry. They’re set to remain legal tender indefinitely, which is part of why completely getting rid of them is going to take so long. But just because they’re legal tender doesn’t mean businesses have to take them. the government is letting individual businesses set their own penny policies, so don’t count on being able to dump thousands of them on the counter at your favourite store or even one you’d like to make life difficult for and walk out with something.
And speaking of making life difficult, this perfectly illustrates the utter uselessness of pennies.
The penny’s current lack of value was the impetus for its demise, a point recently driven home to Canadians hoping to use their discarded coins to raise money for charity.
Jeff Golby, director of charity bank Chimp Fund, launched a publicity campaign shortly after the last penny was struck in an effort to persuade Canadians to discard their copper coinage into the coffers of cash-strapped organizations.
A massive penny party held in downtown Ottawa netted more than 120,000 cents, but it only served to starkly illustrated the coin’s economic shortcomings.
Canadians who want to dispose of their spare change, Golby said, could find better uses for it than stopping by a charitable penny drive.
“On some level you go, ‘OK, it can’t hurt,’ but when you factor in what it costs to charity . . . in time, in rolling costs, it’s not a cost-effective way for charities to really actually net decent money,” he said.
Yes, you read that right, in spite of a couple of typos (not mine) in what I just quoted. Not even charities are totally sure they want them.
One of the questions people keep asking is what’s going to happen to all the pennies we’re not using anymore? The answer is fairly simple. When they’re returned to the Mint, they’ll then be sent off to be melted down and recycled. I don’t know what they’ll become, but I hope it’s something more useful than what they once were.