All About Music Reuse
Most people think of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” model when it comes to waste that we view as trash, like plastic bottles, food waste, or broken items. However, this mantra can be applied to EVERYTHING- including music! The music industry is a huge part of the economy and popular culture. Here is a guide to how you can be more environmentally conscious when it comes to music!
First – reduce. This means thinking about how you BUY your music and not buying physical music in the first place, if you can avoid it. This is incredibly easy with the advent of digital music! Instead of collecting crates and crates of vinyl albums or CDs and needing specialized players, simply download the music you want and play it through your smartphone. This results in a much lower environmental footprint.
o A 2010 study (by Christopher Weber, Jonathan Koomey and H. Scott Matthews in Journal of industrial Ecology) showed that downloading an album digitally and playing the files without burning them to a CD at home reduces energy use and greenhouse gas pollution by 80% over buying the music on a CD by e-commerce or retail at a store. (That drops to about 40% savings if you burn a CD at home and put it in a jewel case).
o Using the digital files with no CD reduces all the impact of manufacturing music CDs & packaging and eliminates the problem of how to get rid of it when you’re done with it. Hit delete and voila! No garbage for recycling, burning, or ending up in a landfill. In addition, it reduces environmental impact overall, as the product does not have to be shipped from the manufacturer, to the retailer and to your home.
Second – reuse.
o If you really love to hold your music in your hands, the best options are to burn your own CDs at home from purchased files (see above) and to buy your music second-hand. (This goes for instruments and turntables too). Used record stores have always been around, and environmentally, reuse is the way to go. The Current helps by promoting the state’s great second-hand music opportunities – both on Record Store day and all year long.
o ReUSE Minnesota (www.reusemnorg) is a non-profit that facilitates reuse of just about everything. Their website is a directory that connects Minnesotans to second-hand and reuse businesses in the state. We just launched in October of 2016 and are still building the directory. If Current listeners send us their favorite second-hand music stores, we’ll get them listed! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website, www.reusemn.org/contact-us/
o Instruments can be easily bought and sold second hand – through Craigslist, Music Go Round, or other vendors. In fact, most instrument/guitar shops these days buy/sell used instruments as well as selling new. Guitars, because of the valuable hardwoods they use, are great things to buy secondhand.
o Have a CD or record player that needs a fix? Try a local Fixit Clinic in Hennepin,Dakota, Anoka or Ramsey County. Free, community-based workshops where you bring your broken stuff, and handy volunteers help you fix it up on the spot. I took my broken AIWA cassette player and learned it just needed a set of $14 belts – which I ordered and was then able to install myself. My Commitments soundtrack tape is back in action!
o If you have music you want to get rid of – don’t trash it – donate, sell, or swap it! Again, www.reusemn.org has places listed that will buy or accept your used music for donation. Take your stuff to a local second-hand music place like Down in the Valley or a Greener Read dropbox, or donate it to Arc Value Village or Salvation Army. You might also use an online option like www.Decluttr.com or www.SecondSpin.com.
o Think you can’t sell your old cassettes? Think again. Like vinyl and tunics over leggings, cassettes are making a comeback in some markets.
Finally, we get to recycling. Hopefully you’ve gotten the message that this is the last thing you should do with your music.
o Hennepin County HHW drop-off facilities accept these media from households (not businesses): DVDs, CDs, pen drives, diskettes, thumb drives, flash drives, media storage cards, Blu-ray discs, and video game cartridges. Jewel cases accepted only if holding DVDs or CDs. (metro counties have reciprocity, so anyone in the metro can bring items to Hennepin, list each county that offers reciprocity).
o And for a fee – you can get a collection box to ship a variety of “techno-trash” for recycling – but they don’t take vinyl records: https://www.greendisk.com/gdsite/accept.aspx GreenDisk reuses or recycles 99% of what they get.
Trash. Last, and definitely least, is throwing music in the trash. Cassettes, tapes, and records are allowed in the trash and can be thrown away, but we hope you wouldn’t think of doing this.
For more on this subject, check out http://www.growlermag.com/tunes-trade-offs-minimizing-ecological-footprint/
ReUSE Minnesota at the Minnesota State Fair!
New Re-Users, Hobbyists, and experienced DIYers of all ages can all enjoy ReUSE Minnesota’s section of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle area at the Eco Experience building. Learn about reuse, rental, and repair from demonstrations of repair techniques and reuse projects set in a Craft/Hobby Room illustrating clever ways to reuse and re-purpose a wide range of items.
Demonstration times are 10am-noon, 12:30-2:30 p.m., 3:00-5 p.m., and 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. every day of the fair. Activities change daily and include the opportunity to put together your own basic sewing kit, learning basic hand sewing, identifying tools and learning their uses, learning about outdoor gear repair, basics of bike repair, and a walk-through of what happens when technology is thrown away. Each Saturday, Fairgoers can upcycle t-shirts into reusable grocery bags, while Sundays offer sample Fix-It clinics with info on common repairs.
Join us and become part of the circular economy of reuse!
By Any Means Necessary: Get the Word Out About Your Good Work!
By Amanda LaGrange, CEO of Tech Dump and Tech Discounts
Businesses in the reuse sector face a variety of barriers to success. Some of these challenges, such as managing cash flow and employee retention are shared by businesses of all types. However, other challenges are inherent in our shared mission to extend the material life of goods. For example, Tech Discounts must absorb the ridiculous cost of a specialized fastening screw for a certain fruit-branded phone. Another unique obstacle our sector faces is raising awareness about the whole idea of reuse.
Most consumers here in the U.S. don’t think of reuse as an option, probably due in part to something called default bias, which is the human tendency to do whatever is easiest and do what’s always been done. In the case of consumer goods, this means throwing items away and buying new things. Overcoming existing behaviors is hard, but it can be done. Look at all the progress that’s been made in promoting recycling in the City of Saint Paul, which introduced alley carts in January 2017 and is now on track to increase the materials collected by 35 percent in the next five years.
Success is within reach, but the first step is raising awareness about our work!
In my own field of used electronics, we’re getting better about letting people know about their options, but we need to provide more education. For example, a recent report from the Wisconsin DNR indicated that the percentage of residents who knew where to take old electronics rose from 28 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2016, but that still leaves a majority of our neighbors to the east in the dark with a “pile of denial.” In fact, the Wisconsin DNR reported that 48 percent of cell phones in homes around the state were unused in 2016. Those numbers are not unusual. In fact, many consumers hold on to their electronics, especially cellphones; the EPA estimates that only 11% of mobile devices are properly recycled. When I hear those statistics, as an e-waste repair shop and retailer with a commitment to the environment, I think about the number of cellphones and PDAs that could be put back into circulation! On the recycling side, the amount of untapped gold, silver, palladium and copper that could be recovered is mind blowing.
All those unused devices are why Tech Dump launched Cell Phone Summer, our campaign to collect ONE TON of cell phones between June 10th and Labor Day. The funds raised through recycling and reselling a ton of phones will provide1,000 hours of work for our social enterprise’s employees, which is great, but it’s not the only reason we’re doing the campaign.
We also created Cell Phone Summer to raise awareness about recycling and reusing mobile devices. Despite all our traditional marketing and communications efforts – advertising, social media, google SEO, media relations, etc. – there were still plenty of people with old electronics that didn’t know about us. We needed to try something new to get them to bring in their stuff, so we launched the campaign. We’re placing Paul Bunyan and Babe collection bins around the metro, our staff is appearing at key summer events, and we’re hosting our own shindigs. We’re also engaging our networks in sharing information about Cell Phone Summer. (Hint: You can help us by Tweeting, Instagramming and on Facebook using the hashtag #CellPhoneSummer.) We’ll finish up in the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair. I look forward to seeing all of you there and discussing your plans for raising awareness about the work your organization does and the great potential of the reuse sector!