The Mysterious Case of the Missing CDs

The Mysterious Case of the Missing CDs

In 2012, the idea of buying compact discs, or CDs, is slowly becoming obsolete. Many people use portable digital music players and now cars are being manufactured with capabilities to stream music. So who needs a CD player? I think I’m one of few who still listen to CDs…and still buy them for that matter.

But let’s go back. Back to 1982 when CDs were first introduced to the music-loving public. In November of that year, Michael Jackson’s record-breaking album Thriller was released and for the first time, consumers had their choice of a new method of playback. In the early 80s, vinyl was still fairly popular and cassettes were even more widespread. Though CDs brought something new…something different.

Digitally remastered playback was innovative and exciting. Now consumers could listen to music on a completely different scale. That Prince album, 1999, yeah, pretty awesome. Of course, I can’t give a first-hand account – because I was not yet on this earth in 1982, but I have a pretty good idea the playback quality of music was so different. And so new.

Fast forward to 2003. ITunes launched, and in its inaugural year sold 25 million digital tracks. In 1982, the number of CDs sold pale in comparison. Granted, compact discs were not released until October of that year, it’s still a pretty phenomenal number.

With each new technological invention comes more advanced equipment and new products. In the early 80s people were buying CD players, both portable and stereo compatible (I still remember my Dad’s…in fact, he still has it). And with the introduction of digital music, came iPods and mp3 players, built for portable, in-home and automobile use. Still not gathering the mammoth transformation musical playback has undergone yet? Keep reading.

Adele released her album 21 in early 2011 and by the midpoint of 2012, has sold more than 3 million copies. Michael Jackson’s Thriller didn’t sell nearly that amount in its first year. We can definitely attribute the difference in record sales to technology. Today, buying an album is as simple as downloading music right onto your computer and then streaming it to any source of playback you own. This was not even a possibility in 1982. Some folks still love that record store feel – I know I do, I’m an old soul. But we live in an instant society. And buying music instantly is part of our culture.

So what does the evolution of music have to do with our environment? Simple. Now that tunes are available and more than half the time purchased digitally, what are we doing with all of those old CDs? Many people have transferred albums on CD and even albums on vinyl to a digital form.  As much of a music lover as I am, I dare not tell a lie and say that I listen to every single CD that I own. Now, you can recycle CDs. And if you’re digitally exclusive, you’re already doing a heap for our environment. In this world we have to think about the future. I don’t want my future generations to struggle – and I’m sure you don’t either.


  1. Love this article cause its so true! the great thing about buying tunes now a days is you can buy single songs off an album and sample it BEFORE you buy it! Sadly I don’t listen to even a 10th of my CDs, it’s just such a hassle to cart them around, however I have them all on my iPod and listen to that daily…so why haven’t I gotten rid or recycled them yet…who knows? Where would I recycle by the way?

  2. Check out some of these resources for recycling CDs:

    CD Recycling Central –
    Recycle San Diego –
    Recycling Jewel Cases –

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