About a year ago, my wife went digital. Any prerecorded DVDs or CDs were sent to charity, but that still left all her cassettes and several dozen homemade mixes on CD that were simply bundled up and – because our local council wouldn’t take them for recycling – chucked in the bin.
I couldn’t bring myself to do it – and not just because they were old favourites, each mix loaded with memories. I just couldn’t face throwing so much hard plastic into the ground, where it would likely as not slowly break apart over hundreds of years and, at worst, dribble into the ocean and food chain. As a result, a box of CDs has been cluttering my study floor ever since, while two dozen old tapes – prerecorded and homemade – have gathered dust on my desk.
Of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, 10 million enters the ocean.National Oceanography Centre
Finally fed up with the guilt of their disposal hanging over me, I went online and found ReproPlastics. I’m sure there are other equivalents, but these are the guys I used. After a few emails, it was confirmed that I could send them all my old DVDs and CDs, their cases, my cassette boxes and – once they were stripped of all components to leave just the plastic sides – even my cassettes. The resulting package weighed 4.5kg, which I chose to send Royal Mail 2nd Class for £8.99. Given how often I listened to them, that’s an infinitesimal cost per song, and a small price to pay to see my old music collection saved from landfill.
In very general terms, I might argue that recycling is plastics’ equivalent of offsetting – it doesn’t reduce the problem in itself, but it’s a stop-gap compromise. One day, perhaps, we’ll wonder how we could have been so short-sighted as to manufacture products without knowing how we’d safely dispose of them. Until then, this seems a good – and relatively inexpensive – option.
They say music is food for the soul. This is one way you can ensure it doesn’t end up being food for the body as well.