There usually comes a time while cleaning out and sorting through the materials of the past, you come across the mix tape created by your first love. You may have dumped that love, but you can't get rid of the audio or video cassettes that easily. Reuse, donate or recycle those tapes, but don't send them to the landfill.
Breaking It Down
You can recycle your collection of old Betamax, audio cassette and videotapes, otherwise known as magnetic media, but not without some work. The tape casings are made of recyclable plastic but the inner tape is not. This tape is Mylar and according to Think Global Green, it is a "phthalate-laden form of the plastic polyethylene" and not recyclable. Mylar sometimes is coated with chromium and other harmful metals, which means they can't go in a landfill for fear of the magnetic media not breaking down for hundreds of years or metals leaching into the ground.
Passing Them Along
Before recycling them, see if anyone else is interested in the tapes. Try selling rare videotapes or audio cassettes online or ask if your local library would appreciate the videotapes that are in good condition. Donate authorized videotapes of movies -- not homemade copies -- to charity stores.
Recycle the tapes. Take another listen or watch any tapes that may have sensitive or deeply personal information and either keep that tape to convert to digital or erase it before shipping it off to a recycling company. Ship videotapes to Alternative Community Training (http://www.actservices.org/recycling) and it will recycle it, or ship everything to GreenDisk so it can recycle them. Both are solid choices for the recycling of magnetic media. ACT uses the proceeds from its recycling program to provide instruction plus assistance to those with disabilities, while GreenDisk erases the tapes sent to them.
You may buy digital copies of both the audio cassettes and videotapes you want to recycle to eliminate household clutter. However, what about the mixed audio cassette your best friend made for you back in junior high, or the video cassette of your now-deceased grandfather dancing at a wedding? Convert them before sending them off to be properly recycled. To transfer from audio cassette to disc, you need a cassette player and need to download a free program that records the audio. For converting VHS to DVD, you need a VHS-DVD combination recorder. Another option is to use a professional conversion service; find one locally or check online for mail-in services.
Instead of sending tapes off to be recycled, reuse them. Audio cassette cases are made of sturdy plastic that can be reused as holders for business cards, wet-wipe packs or sewing needles. Take audio cassettes and glue four of them together to make a customized pencil cup.