Recycling the 80’s

It’s only when we get down to something that makes us sort out all those old boxes we’ve had piling up in the closet for the last three decades, that we come to grips with the fact that we have a lot of leftovers from the 80’s we’re too ashamed to admit we have, but far too attached to to get rid of. We’ve even moved them from home to home waiting for that inspiration to know how to find a new use for the things of our childhood. How can we just throw our formative years away?

Magnetic media was big in the 80’s and we can be sentimental about it, but we also have to be intelligent when we finally cut the strings and realize Duran Duran will not make a comeback, and neither will Betamax videos. These magnetic based media need to be disposed of in a way that they will not end up in a landfill, as they take hundreds of years to decompose. Scary! My great, great, great, great grandchildren can dig up my old Boy George cassettes and realize it was true – I did have an appalling taste in music!

Finding places to recycle floppy disks, cassette and video cassette tape is not hard, but can be done.

“One of the bigger problems is that there’s this massive amount of VHS tapes (and magnetic media) and there really isn’t a great solution for recycling them,” says Mickey Friedman, COO for GreenDisk, one of the largest e-waste recyclers in the U.S.

Friedman says it’s been hard for the company to recycle all of the pieces associated with magnetic media.

“The outside casing is made from different types of plastic and that can be recycled; it’s the Mylar tape that really can’t be,” he says. “We do about as good as you can.”

This is one case where we all fall back on any recyclers online bible – Pinterest. One woman uses the Mylar tape inside cassettes to crochet shower curtains and items of clothing. Another woman makes them into ribbon for packages and other decorative items. But what can you really do with 4000 miles of Mylar tape? That’s an awful lot of sweaters…


It’s a case of looking around and seeing what is in your area. There are a few companies online that will accept old magnetic media and recycle, but their options are limited. These old tapes are basically Mylar tape, and the plastic covers they came in. That’s not a lot of material to work with. But persevere! There must be something out there – we just haven’t found it yet!

How do you recycle your old, still loved magnetic media? Let us know in the comments and see if we can start an 80’s recycling revolution – Genesis would be proud!

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