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What do I do with my unwanted cassette tapes?
August 10, 2004 6:01 AM   Subscribe

What do I do with my old cassette tapes? [MI]

I'm getting ready to move, and went through my old cassette tapes to weed out all of the ones that I already have on CD or on my MP3 player. So, now I have a big box of cassettes that I don't need anymore, but that represent a large chunk of my teenage years. There's some store- bought albums, but most of them are *ahem* "backups" of albums. It just feels wrong to throw them all in a dumpster or something, given all the time and care I put into them. It would be nice to give them to someone, so that they can enjoy them as much as I did, but it's an antiquated technology with outdated music on it. (I checked with my brother, and he was uninterested, but he's a weirdo that doesn't listen to any music.) Anyone have any ideas of what I could do with 200 or so cassette tapes? Hell, anyone here want them?
posted by emptybowl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total)
 
I went through the same thing.

I had 600+ tapes to get rid of. First thing I did is throw away blanks with albums taped on them. Then I went through my store bought tapes, and checked if a CD was available. If it was, then it got donated to a local charity. I now have about 20 cassettes that I haven't been able to locate on CD. The list to replace the tapes with CD's makes for an interesting afternoon of used CD store hopping.
posted by quibx at 6:22 AM on August 10, 2004


If this were a just world, you would be able to turn in your commerical cassette albums for the equivalent CD, minus the cost of the plastic used in the CD itself. You've already paid once for the intellectual property contained on the cassette -- it's yours forever, baby.
posted by Faze at 6:56 AM on August 10, 2004


Well, like I already said, the majority of the tapes aren't commercial cassettes. They're "backups"......of some albums owned by my brother.....and friends.....(if you catch my meaning)
posted by emptybowl at 7:47 AM on August 10, 2004


1. Identify those that you already own in another preferable format. Give them to charity, a second-hand store, a grateful friend or stranger, or a bin.

2. Have a good think about which of those remaining you know, however deep down, that you would just not listen to again, even if you had them on CD or mp3. Give them to charity, a second-hand store, a grateful friend or stranger, or a bin.

3. Connect a tape player to your computer's line-in and record and encode the remainder to live long in the digital afterlife.

Don't try too hard searching for people who'd take them. If you could find someone to take them off your hands the odds are on they'll just dump them a year later in any case.

Don't feel bad about ditching the plastic. Life isn't about amassing items. Be grateful for the contribution the tapes have made to your life. But see them for what they are: input. There's plenty more to be had.
posted by nthdegx at 8:12 AM on August 10, 2004


We just went through this at the .kobayashi. household. I felt the same you as you when we started, but here's what I learned.

It just feels wrong to throw them all in a dumpster or something.

Yes, but moving sucks and it's not going to any better to have to move another box full of crap you know you don't need and won't use. Throw them out. Really.

2. Have a good think about which of those remaining you know, however deep down, that you would just not listen to again.

No. You'll get sentimental about bands that used to matter to you, and unless you have someone dispassionate with you, you'll end up keeping all the junk. Throw them out.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:41 AM on August 10, 2004


When I was a kid, my friends and I really enjoyed pulling all the mag tape out of a cassette and then hold onto to it while we rode our bikes. It looked very cool billowing behind us in the wind.
posted by mmascolino at 8:46 AM on August 10, 2004


I leave cassette tapes in the kitchen to listen to on the small boombox I have in there -- it means that I use them, and that I'm not carting CDs up and down the stairs.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2004


Well, if you're the crafty type, you could make something like sonic fabric out of them.
posted by O9scar at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2004


In the UK there used to be a scheme whereby audio tapes were used by charities who used them for taping readings of newspapers, mags & books for visually impared people.

Link to relavant page on RNIB (UK) site
posted by i_cola at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2004


No. You'll get sentimental about bands that used to matter to you, and unless you have someone dispassionate with you, you'll end up keeping all the junk. Throw them out.

No. Thinking about it might make the process more difficult, but it makes it final and won't lead to regret in the future. You'll know that you never threw anything away on a whim. And, proceeding to point three that I mentioned negates your argument to an extent. If it *is* worth keeping it should be recorded and encoded, with the tape subsequently ditched, so it's not as if anyone stands anything to lose. It doesn't burden anyone with more tapes in the long term.
posted by nthdegx at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2004


I really need to point out that we think there are untold copies of these cassettes when, in fact, they are quickly becoming rare artifacts. Throwing them out is simply the wrong idea. Eventually there won't be any more of a particular tape left. Sure, it's "only" C+C Music Factory or Kajagoogoo or Young MC (or, *please*, MC Solaar), but do you want to be the one who throws out the last copy of a *book*? Is this different?
Public libraries often take boxes full of tapes if they have reasonable assurance they aren't pirated. *They* will throw some of them out, but most will be added to the collection.
"I don't want it" is not the same as "It should be destroyed."
posted by joeclark at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2004


You'll know that you never threw anything away on a whim.

No. It's not a whim; from my reading it looks like the winnowing has been made, and we're talking about the stuff that didn't make the cut. Once the weeding out has happened (And as reread the first 2 lines of emptybowl's question, I gather that it has), a second pass is a waste of time and energy. This is, and I quote, "antiquated technology with outdated music on it." It's time to just let it go. Throw them out. And get to the more important business of moving.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:39 AM on August 10, 2004


Any way to recycle the stuff? I'm facing a similar problem with VHS tapes -- like a 100 of them that i want to get rid of. Hate to think of these plastic rectangles just sitting in a landfill for 100 years.
posted by herc at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2004


Unspool them and knit a "mix tape scarf"
posted by tristeza at 10:21 AM on August 10, 2004


They're worthless even to a charity store like Goodwill. Pitch 'em.

They will be in a landfill in 100 years anyway.
posted by mischief at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2004


Or you could try this.
posted by rushmc at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2004


All the tapes I'm ditching I already have in digital format, so transferring them is not an issue. I just want to figure out what to do with them.

I actually offered them to my parents so they could symbolically smash them to bits, since both of them hated moving them everytime I moved in college, but neither was interested.
posted by emptybowl at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2004


This one's easy. Easy-peasy.

Take the cassettes to your local college radio station. The staff may not necessairily play your material on the air, but they'll be sure to find a nice home for the tapes. The rest of the community/listening area may even benefit from your generous act.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:24 PM on August 10, 2004


Do they even still play? Have you tried them in a cassette player recently? I just went through something similar when moving about about a year ago. Most of my old cassettes wouldn't play at all or, if they did, the sound quality was horrible. Threw the lot in the dumpster.
posted by rglasmann at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2004


Wow, I wish I could rent that plusdeck thing just to record the few tapes I have that are irreplaceable. (I threw out a ton of cassettes too....felt awful about it because they were so dear to me at one point. Still have a gazillion left though.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:54 PM on August 10, 2004


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