Opinion

The 1p coin needs to go and here’s why.

Written by Sam Davies

When was the last time you paid for something with a 1p coin? Chances are it wasn’t recently. With 10.5 billion 1 pence coins currently in circulation, many people believe it’s time to scrap the copper-plated steel coin that all of us probably have few in our pockets, in a jar or stuck behind the sofa never going to be used again.

Those who believe we should scrap it have three main arguments to support their views: the environment, the economy and people’s sentimental value to the otherwise useless coin.  With recent talks about scrapping it, the government needs to take these arguments into account.

Personally, I dislike the coin. I don’t see any use in it; I hate how I can’t use it to buy anything and it always puts me in a fit of rage when the self-checkout at Sainsbury’s spits out when I get change less than 10p. Why can’t it just give me a 5p coin?

As the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees. So, it has to come from somewhere. Like most metals, steel and copper are extracted from the ground in massive mines scattered across the UK, melted down into little disks to be moulded into the coins and covered in a thin layer of copper at The Royal Mint headquarters in Wales. They are then shipped around the UK to banks and shops to probably be used once and then put in a jar, never to be used again. When you think about it, the production of the 1p has a very large environmental impact. Industrial machines and metal fumes start to build up in the atmosphere, slowly destroying the ozone layer. And since most of the mines are situated far out in the countryside, it’s affecting the wildlife that lives there. Due to the mines being there, it’s extremely rare to see animals like Eagle Owls and Peregrine Falcons. The reason that you’ll find so many mines in the countryside is because no one wants to stay near a site littered with big industrial cranes and lorries and that’s why there is such a high demand for houses in city areas. All of this is just to make one 3.56g coin that has little to no value in it.

As the 1p is a currency, it’s vital to think about the economy when deciding on its fate. I believe that the UK should follow in the footsteps of countries like Australia, Brazil and Canada by abolishing low denomination currency. Some may argue that if we remove the coin from circulation, prices may be increased to the nearest 10p but statistics show that from the countries that have abolished it have not seen any significant increase in shops changing these prices, most shops just round it to the nearest even number. Shops and restaurants in the UK could replicate what American fast-food company Chipotle did and round their prices to the nearest 5p when prices may cause a 1p coin needed for change, however, when complaints arose from customers that they were being overcharged for their food, Chipotle announced that they would round down prices to the 5-cent, stating that a loss of just a couple of cents wouldn’t affect the company profit in any way.

One of the only ways that people would ever spend their 1p coins is at charity funds as an excuse to get rid of a couple of the useless little coins. Penny activists argue that if we abolished it, there would be less of a donation rate because people don’t won’t want to get rid of their 5p coins because they have a higher value compared to the 1p. But anti-coin protesters in Canada have researched and proven that charities have not seen any decrease in donations, but an increase of CAD 5 cents. These countries findings prove to the government that removal of the coin will neither affect the economy, nor affect charitable donations via low-denomination currency.

The final reason to abolish the 1p coin is people’s sentimental value to the coin. Most pro-penny activists are of the older generation and argue that’s they want to keep it because it’s what they used to pay for anything when they were younger. Their argument is weak because you can no longer pay for anything with the 1p; everything costs a lot more than it used to be. Another argument from them is that they like to keep on to them for special meaning. I’m not one to judge but I don’t see the appeal in likening a little piece of metal that’s been owned by at least a hundred people before you. One of the main reasons that I don’t like the 1p coin is because it is the dullest coin ever produced by The Royal Mint in the history of British currency. The coin only has 2 designs: the portcullis and one section of the Royal Shield of Arms, which once complete, does look pretty cool. I believe that if The Royal Mint produced special versions of the 1p coin like the 2017 A-Z 10p coin, I think that the coin would be a lot more popular if it wasn’t just a boring old design as people are a lot more likely to collect special coins and as far as I’m aware, there has never been a special 1p coin.

I believe that the 1p coin should be abolished because of these three arguments. If it was eliminated, I think that nobody would notice its absence as it’s hardly ever used. I know that it might take a long time to put the coin out of circulation considering that there are 10.5 billion coins but I believe that it will benefit not only the environment but also the economy.  So, when pro-coin activists argue for it, anti-coin activists have a lot of strong and valid arguments to put against their often very weak and obtuse arguments.

And to you, I ask- do you want the 1p to go?

About the author

Sam Davies

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