a penny thrown away is a penny you don't have to deal with
We've all heard phrases like "throwing money away," or "money down the toilet." But no one really throws money away, do they? Well, I, for one, actually do. I would not hesitate to guess that many other people do as well.
I don't think it's ever really premeditated. I don't save a jar of change just to take it out to the dumpster when its full. If I go through the trouble to save money, in whatever form, then its because I really want it. And I don't believe money is thrown away in denominations of any reasonable size, either. You certainly won't see someone tossing tens and twenties - not real ones, anyway. I seriously doubt most people have disposed of anything bigger than a nickel, or a dime (maybe).
I might safely assume that everyone (in the US), from time to time, ditches a penny. Pennies are the (literally) red-headed stepchildren of the currency world. They are worth (again, literally) next to nothing. So, when I find a penny under the car seat or in a corner of my house, I go through a brief cost/benefit analysis. Is it truly worth carrying $0.01 in my pocket for the rest of the day, to later find a suitable purpose or repository for it? Usually not. Honestly, I, like many people, go to pains at the register to ensure that the change that comes back to me includes no pennies. If I get pennies, I might even just discard them in the little dish on the store counter. Therefore, I don't really hesitate to toss a penny in the trash, or even suck it up with the vacuum.
Discarding a penny like so much garbage does not come without any discomfort, though. Grandparents' admonishions of frugality ring in the back of the mind, and guilt makes a brief stop. Then there is the thought, "I must be breaking the law or something." Well, your grandparents lived in an era when a penny actually bought you something, and I am reasonably sure no one has ever gone to jail for discarding a penny. There are even places where you can squish a penny into a nifty but equally worthless souvenir. If they have thus far avoided the wrath of the Secret Service, then so, I imagine, can you.
Throwing away pennies is a common, but seldom mentioned part of day to day life. The decision to do so is a matter of personal values and circumstances. One oughtn't feel ashamed if they do it, it is such a trifling thing. The penny has taken a place of little significance in our society, and the act of throwing a penny away is testimony to that fact.