Ever wondered about recycling old video tapes? One of my favourite podcasts, Answer Me This recently answered a question about exactly that. A listener is moving house, and asked the team what to do with their old VHSes.

Because the tech is officially obsolete, charity shops are refusing them. And the greenie listener didn’t want to toss them in the trash. So what’s a podcast listener to do?
It’s a great podcast, and I do recommend a listen here (this is the first question, starting around the one minute mark. The episode contains mild swears).

For those of you who don’t want to click through, the answer to “can I recycle my old video tapes” is… not really.
A pile of old VHS tapes in a dumpster, illustrating why recycling old video tapes is important.
The problem is that video tapes are made of lots of different pieces. There are some recycling centres, which might take them off your hands – but there’s unlikely to be one near you, and you may have to post your tapes in. Here’s one place which may help.

What to do when recycling old video tapes isn’t an option:

  • Drape them around your garden to scare away birds.
  • Knit with them.

  • Upcycle into book covers like this Etsy seller.
  • Sell them to collectors (but let’s face it, there aren’t that many people who want episodes of Friends you taped in the 90s).
However you resolve your video tape woes, going forwards, try to avoid buying other technology which is likely to become obsolete (she types on her iPhone). Instead, borrow DVDs rather than buy them, swap with friends, or use streaming services. Seriously, since I moved house three times in three years, I try to never buy a thing that own’t be used up in a year, or has a decent chance of being useful forever!
So my final recommendation for the listener who wanted to know about recycling old video tapes is to go back in time and don’t buy any. Helpful!
This is the first post in Going Green, an occasional series about the easy ways to live a sustainable life.

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