What to Do with Your Old VHS Tapes

Published on April 27, 2021
Photo by Ignat Kushanrev on Unsplash

If you’ve already used our service to convert your old VHS tapes to a high-definition digital file or DVD, you may be wondering what to do with your VHS tapes. For most people, their first instinct is simply to toss those old VHS tapes into the trash. After all, once you have your digital file or DVD, you don’t need the original tapes anymore, right? The problem with that is that once old VHS tapes hit the landfill, they will be there forever.

Why It’s Challenging to Recycle VHS Tapes

According to Earth911, you can recycle the #5 plastic parts of VHS tapes, but the Mylar plastic tape that coats the interior reel is coated with metals that are hazardous waste. Because of this, you can’t put them in the plastics recycling bin or legally take them to the landfill. Besides the plastic parts being in the landfill for hundreds of years, the toxic metals seep into the ground and contaminate the soil and nearby water, creating a whole new problem.

What to Do with Your VHS Tapes

In the list below, there are some great ideas about how to dispose of your VHS tapes or find another use for them.

1. Recycle Your VHS Tapes

If you want to go the recycling route, you will need to find an e-waste recycler where you live. You can search Earth911’s recycling search engine to find recyclers near you. You may have to make a few calls before you find a company that accepts VHS tapes.

If you can’t find a local recycler, visit GreenDisk’s website and they will explain how to package up your VHS tapes and ship them to the company.

2. Crochet a Beautiful Bag from the Mylar

Cindy from MyRecycledBags used cassette and VHS tape to make tote bags and crocheted purses. If you’re interested in making your own bag, you can find instructions on her website.

3. Sell Your VHS Tapes

Believe it or not, there’s a market for old VHS tapes and cassette tapes. Super rare VHS tapes may even be worth a lot of money. However, the majority of VHS tapes aren’t worth much. One thing you can do is sell all of your tapes in a lot so that you can be rid of them and put them into the hands of someone who will make use of them.

You can sell your tapes on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. Also, you can sell them on Etsy if they’re more than 20 years old, which is Etsy’s definition of vintage. The only problem with listing your tapes on online marketplaces is that they may still sit in your home for a while before they sell.

If you live in an area with a used bookstore, they may pay you for your old tapes. Many used bookstores, such as Half Price Books, buy anything that has ever been printed or recorded. Others may allow you to trade your tapes for books or other items. If your tapes have some value, you won’t get the best price by selling at outlets like Half Price Books, but you’ll be able to rid yourselves of your old tapes ethically.

4. Make a Table

Carrie Adams of Stanford Mag used her old VHS tapes to create a table. It sounds like a wacky idea, but just imagine how cute and retro this would be in a media room or craft room, for example. Carrie goes into specific details about how to use your tapes to make a table of your own. By making her table out of these old tapes, Carrie avoided using what she calls “virgin materials.” She says that an upside is that she had a lot of fun doing her project. There’s another set of instructions for making a VHS table on Instructables.

5. Donate Your VHS Tapes

If you don’t care about making a profit from your old tapes, and you’re not interested in getting crafty, you can always donate them. Thrift stores and libraries are great places to unload your collection of VHS tapes. Many libraries sell donated items at an annual book sale, so you’ll be helping great organizations make a little cash.

6. Sell or Donate to Antique Shops

If your research indicates that your tapes have some value, you may be able to sell them to an antique store. Some individuals prefer the VHS experience as a medium, and they actively seek out old VHS tapes.

7. More Craft Ideas

Mental Floss has an article listing lots of creative things you can do with your VHS tapes. You can create a bracelet, some pom-poms for your favorite cheerleading team, a wall clock, photo frame cases, birdhouses, and even a USB hub. Another great idea we saw involved using the tapes to create wall shelving. You can also make the world’s most excellent football table. 

8. Keep Them

If you have a lot of storage space, one option is simply to hold onto your VHS tapes. If they’re in a box in your basement or attic, they’re not hurting anyone. However, keep in mind that this solution is just pushing the problem down the road. At some point, after you’re gone, someone else is going to have to decide what to do with your old VHS tapes. Also, with time, they’ll begin to break down inside that box.

Ready to Preserve Your Memories?

If you’ve not already had your VHS tapes converted, contact the professionals at ARS Video Inc for more information and to learn about your options. We’re here to help you preserve those precious memories.

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