Are Pennies Really Worth It?


Many skeptics are questioning the real value and purpose of pennies in the modern age. From inflation to being harmful to the environment, many believe pennies are actually a detriment to society. 

Starting with the obvious, pennies are worth such a minuscule amount. It’s no surprise that inflation has hit the United States. It is seen that countless complaints about gas prices have arisen. In 1916, a penny was worth what a quarter would buy today, which still is not even enough to really buy anything of value.

According to The Balance, the cost to make a penny is twice what it is worth. In 2021, making pennies was a big loss, losing the U.S. 83.6 million dollars. Additionally, United States citizens pay for this, costing tens of millions of dollars of tax dollars to be wasted every year. Importing the zinc for the pennies also added $1.3 million of debt to the United States.

Finally, the penny is 97.5% zinc, and the process of acquiring it can be harmful to the environment. Mining, smelting, and steel production with zinc can release zinc into the air, which makes its way to soil and water. This is a hazard especially to people living near zinc-producing industries, as the air they breathe can be contaminated, along with drinking water. Breathing in high levels of zinc can lead to short term fevers or chills. 

Considering the minimum wage in Illinois of $12 an hour, picking up a penny could end up making you less than minimum wage. All in all, pennies just aren’t worth the time.


Amadeo, Kimberly. “9 Reasons Why America Should Get Rid of the Penny” The Balance, 29 January 2022,