By Melissa Hincha-Ownby on October 22, 2010

Stuck with an abundance of old cassette tapes, one family explores some creative reuse options.
Recycling and Reusing Cassette Tapes
My extended family ran into an interesting recycling problem this past month: What do we do with the old cassette tapes from the 1980s? Those of you under 20 might not know what I’m talking about, but in the days before MP3 players, DVDs and even CDs, us older folk listened to music on cassette tapes. As my family converts these old cassette tapes to discs, we are left wondering how to recycle and reuse them when we’re done.

Now, there may be some people out there that want to hold onto the cassettes for posterity’s sake, but if you’re interested in reusing or recycling these relics from the past, let me share with you what I found in my search.

One of the first ideas I came across was repurposing the tape from inside the cassette into doll hair. I’m not talking about Barbie dolls, but instead homemade dolls that you and your daughter can create from household items (think yarn dolls and the like). When it comes time to outfit her with a head of hair, forgo the traditional yarn and cut strips of cassette tape to use for her lovely locks.

Another fun way to repurpose the cassette tapes is to incorporate them into your décor. You can create a decorative storage container by simply gluing several tapes together. Imagine a cassette tape storage container holding your favorite DVDs. When friends and family come over for movie night you bring out the retro storage case, which will no doubt lead to questions, and then you can introduce the fun ways that your friends can reuse old items. This storage box cuts down on waste and spending as the tapes were repurposed into a useful yet retro piece of décor.

If you’d rather forgo the process of repurposing the tape, don’t just discard them with the rest of your waste. Consider donating them to a local charity for resale. Believe it or not, there is still a market for cassette tapes. If you take a trip through your local Goodwill store you may be surprised to find a section dedicated to music on cassette.

There are also companies out there that are equipped to fully recycle cassette tapes, although their services are likely designed to meet the needs of those with bulk amounts of product. Massachusetts-based Lacerta Group, Inc. is one such company. Lacerta collects a variety of media for recycling, including cassette tapes, and then turns around and repurposes the waste into post-consumer recycled packaging.

As you can see, there are several different ways that you can recycle or reuse your cassette tapes. If you’ve already been down this road, what did you do with your cassette collection from the 1980s?

About the author

Melissa Hincha-Ownby is a freelance writer based in Arizona. She writes about a variety of environmental topics, including green business, green building, eco-friendly vehicles, the importance of a green economy and raising two eco-conscious children.


In addition to writing about the environment, Melissa's other writing passion is special needs parenting. As the mother of two children with special health care needs, she knows the importance of providing support and information to other families on a similar parenting journey.

Learn more about Melissa Hincha-Ownby


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