Hey Music Lovers! Don’t Toss Your CDs

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If you’ve made the switch to MP3 downloads, chances are you’ve got a box in your garage that’s full of CD cases from artists that were less than forgettable (this author admits to still holding on to the Macarena single). But if you haven’t made the digital jump, we’ve got some news: You’re way behind.

As of September 2009, Apple has sold 220 million iPods, and users have downloaded more than 8.5 billion songs from iTunes. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 85 million CDs that would have been made.

Image courtesy of Lucille Pine

Image courtesy of Lucille Pine

CDs contain three main components: plastic, metals and ink. Discs are made mostly from polycarbonate, although a small amount of lacquer is also used as a protective coating. Aluminum is the primary metal in discs, but traces of gold, silver and nickel are also present.

The dyes used in printing on the disc itself contain some petroleum products. But when it comes to recycling, only metal and plastic are processed.

We’re all for donating your CDs or finding a store that may even give you trade-in credit. But we’re also huge touters of recycling. Those little plastic CD cases are made from plastic #6 polystyrene, and may be accepted in your curbside program.

But if that isn’t an option, two excellent resources for disc disposal are Back Thru the Future and the CD Recycling Center of America. While you pay the shipping costs, there is no recycling fee at either of these organizations. Remember to use the U.S. Postal Service’s “media rate” for the best prices.

If you just can’t bear to part ways with your cases, we found some odd, fun reuse ideas for your CD cases. Put on your creative hat for these projects:

Desktop Frame: Remove (and recycle!) the paper inside and use the clean plastic jewel case to make a desktop picture frame. Simply open the case and flip it inside-out. This tip works great for office notes or dinner recipes as well. Bonus points: Use paint to make a cool border around the outsides of the case for a personal touch.

Wall Mural: This one may take a bit more time (and creativity), but the outcome is sure to become a decor masterpiece. We love this example from Instructables, which breaks the process down into six easy steps. You’ll need CD cases, rulers, an x-acto knife, scotch tape, adhesive Velcro and an image of your choice.

Feature image courtesy of U.S. Army Environmental Command

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