Recycling old video tape

So the Holidays are upon us, and as we reflect about the huge meal we'll be consuming tomorrow, we can also think about how to unload a lot of excess weight… No, I don't mean an after-meal purge, I mean all those video tapes gathering dust and wasting space in your cabinets, under the bed, on the top hidden shelf of the closet and pushed back in to the far reaches of the entertainment cabinet.I recently read that one VHS tape takes one-sixth of a gallon of petroleum to make, and at one time video duplicators were processing 20 million of them a month. That's 3 million gallons of petroleum. If true, that's a lot of waste that can go somewhere else. I did a bit of research online this afternoon, and found very few resources that helped address the issue of what to do with old video tape. Other than pulling the tape from the cartridge and tossing it into the warm glowing fireplace just to watch the tape curl, sizzle and vaporize dangerous particles into the air, what CAN you do with old tape? Recently we got a press release from Flicko's, a nationwide video dubbing and transferring service franchise saying it would take your old VHS tapes off your hands for you and get rid of them the proper way. They write: "… participating Flickos Video Services locations will recycle any tapes brought to the store, disposing of them in a secure, environmentally friendly manner. Flickos will accept VHS tapes in any condition. The tapes will be sent to a center that will erase all data from the tapes and then dispose of the tapes in an environmentally friendly manner. The tapes with home movies can also be transferred to DVD before recycling. This way, customers can digitally preserve their precious footage on compact DVDs and be environmentally responsible at the same time. …" Flickos "… specializes in helping individuals, businesses, and institutions preserve, edit, copy, transfer, and convert film, video, and other media. Flickos offers franchises through Flickos Franchise Corp. Inc. " Check them out at If you don't have a participating Flicko's in your area, check with your local recycling center or waste management system, to see if they know of any other company offering this service. [image:blog_post:13696] It might even become a lucrative business for some enterprising person to undertake. Our research also found these few places that do video and electronic data recycling, i.e. floppies, dat files, CDs, etc. Some take small amounts of electronic data for free, others charge a fee. MSE Media Solutions Los Angeles Toll-Free: (800) 626-1955 Lacerta Group, Inc. Boston MA 02118 Tel: (617) 442-3111 And finally, if you can't recycle them, think of ways to reuse them. for instance, instead of scarecrows try videotape as a bird chaser. Yes, this works. When I was working in a TV market whose biggest economic base was agriculture, we covered a lot of ag related stories and while out doing a story on crop freeze in a rural area a farmer approached me and asked what we do with our old video tape. I said, "Not much, just stack it in the archive basement until we run out of room.." He asked if I could donate lots of tapes – and he meant LOTS of tape – to his farm. He took the tape out of the cartridges and tied long streamers of it to the branches of his crop. The flittering fluttering shiny tape scared the birds away better than a wind machine, scarecrow or fake owl statue. What is it they say, necessity is the mother of invention? So here's a challenge, what do YOU do with old videotape, CDs, floppies, etc. that has out-lived its usefulness? Any ideas out there are welcome, practical or ridiculous.

Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.