What to Do With Old CDs? 6 Ways to Responsibly Get Rid of Them

By: Josh Peterson, Planet Green  | 
Several CDs spread out on a surface.
Don't have space for your CDs anymore? Here are responsible ways to get rid of them.

In the age of streaming and digital downloads, compact discs (CDs) have become relics of the past for many of us. However, if you're like many who have amassed a collection over the years, you might find yourself wondering what to do with old CDs.

Throwing them away seems wasteful and harmful to the environment, given their plastic composition. Luckily, there are several responsible and creative ways to get rid of old CDs.


In this article, we'll provide seven suggestions that can help you declutter without posing any risks to the environment. As you'll discover, you may even improve the environment for future generations!

1. Sell Them Online

Like DVDs, you can sell CDs online. CashForCDs is just one of the many online buyers available. If your CDs are in good condition, selling them could be a viable option.

Online marketplaces are great places to sell old CDs, especially if they're rare or collector's items. This way, you not only declutter your home but also potentially earn some money.


2. Sell Them In Person

Your local record store may be interested in purchasing your old CDs. Garage sales and thrift stores are other great places to sell your CD collection.

However, make sure to call ahead before you traipse on down to music stores with several bags full. If your collection is full of Vanilla Ice, Insane Clown Posse, Ninety Eight Degrees, Kings X, and Ratt, there is a good chance that they will not buy or trade these from you. Don't waste gas. Call ahead.


By selling your unwanted CDs to resellers, you decrease demand for the CDs. Therefore, new copies of the CDs won't have to be produced as often and materials will be saved.

3. Donate Them to Charity

Your old CDs might not have value to you, but they could be treasures to someone else. Consider donating them to charity shops, such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Each of these places will give you a tax receipt.

You can also donate old CDs to public libraries, schools, or community centers. These organizations often welcome donations to build their collections or to use in fundraising sales. It's a great way to give your CDs a second life while supporting a good cause.


4. Upcycling

Get creative and repurpose your old CDs into something new. CDs can be turned into a variety of crafts and decorative items. For instance, they can be cut into pieces and used as mosaic tiles for picture frames or coasters. With their iridescent colors, they can be fashioned into a DIY disco ball.

You can turn those old discs into wind chimes, or come up with other ideas. Upcycling not only extends the life of your CDs but also adds a unique touch to your home d├ęcor. Perhaps you can find a similarly creative solution for your CD player!


5. Recycling CDs

Recycling is the most straightforward approach to disposing of CDs responsibly. Look up your local recycling center. Some cities may even offer curbside recycling programs.

However, not all recycling centers accept them because CDs are made from polycarbonate plastic, which requires a specific recycling process. Before tossing your CDs in the recycling bin, check with your local recycling program to see if they accept CDs. Some specialized companies recycle CDs and other electronic waste, transforming them into automotive and building materials.


6. Find Specialized Disposal Services

If you're unable to find a recycling center that accepts CDs or prefer not to donate or sell them, look for specialized disposal services.

Some companies focus on disposing of electronic waste, including CDs, responsibly. They ensure that the materials are handled according to environmental regulations, minimizing the ecological impact.


A Note to Music Fans

Perhaps you're paying a monthly subscription with music streaming services and figure your CDs have no value. But remember, in the cyclical nature of technology and culture, what's old often becomes new again. And the possibility of the CD format making a comeback is not as far-fetched as it might seem.

With the resurgence of vinyl records driven by a desire for tangible, high-quality sound and a deeper connection to music, CDs could very well follow suit. Unlike streaming services, CDs offer uncompressed audio quality, providing a listening experience that's closer to what the artists intended. Furthermore, the tactile nature of CDs, complete with their artwork and liner notes, offers a physical connection to music that digital formats cannot replicate. This blend of quality and tangibility could appeal to audiophiles and collectors alike, who yearn for a more intimate music experience.


Moreover, the nostalgia factor plays a significant role in the potential comeback of CDs. In an era where digital fatigue is real, and there's a growing appreciation for the analog, the CD's comeback might find its place among those looking for authenticity and a break from the ephemeral nature of streaming music.

If In Doubt, Digitalize First

Before getting rid of your CDs, consider converting them into digital format. This way, you preserve the music or data stored on them without taking up physical space.

Numerous software options are available to help you rip CDs onto your computer. Once digitalized, the physical CDs can be disposed of more easily, knowing you've saved their content.


Consider the Environment

Disposing of all those old CDs doesn't have to be a hassle or harmful to the environment. With a little effort and creativity, you can find responsible ways to get rid of them. Whether recycling, donating, selling, or repurposing, each method offers a chance to extend the life of your CDs in meaningful ways.

Not only does this approach help declutter your space, but it also contributes to a more sustainable planet. Remember, every small action counts in our collective effort to reduce waste and preserve resources for future generations.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.