Thrifty Throwback

By Jenna Pfueller

Recently a friend and I were chatting about the lost art of mixtapes. Remember those? To me, they felt like the DIY way of being a DJ. A way of exchanging musical love notes. A time-intensive gift created as a way to bring someone else into your world, letting them feel the same feelings. If you’re 25 or younger, you may be scratching your head right now, but trust me here when I say they were a true rite of passage for a generation.

mix tapes

Credit: @vrcasper

It really got me nostalgic for my old mixtapes, all of which sadly are long gone. All those hours of precious tape meticulously recorded off the radio when I heard the first few notes of my favorite songs– just tossed carelessly during one of life’s many moves from here to there. But what I do have are my old mix CD’s. They’re little round love notes made by friends, former flames, or even those made by younger self, from my own music collection pre-iPhone days. Don’t get me started on how long it used to take to download a short song– trust me, these days it’d make you seriously stabby.

So, on a recent trip to Goodwill®, when I spotted a small Sony stereo system with a CD and tape deck, I was shook. For just $8, I had found the perfect time machine and it was just what my life needed. Luckily, I knew if it didn’t work, I could return it, since my local store has a 7-day return policy. (Awesome, right?)

I got it home, plugged it in, and fired it up in the living room. It was JUST what the doctor ordered and it worked like a charm. Then I went digging through my book of CD’s to find just the right memories to cook dinner to. VOILA! The Asheville road trip mix, made in 2009 for a trip with friends out to the mountains. So many good memories associated with those tracks. I was transported back to my former self while my kids danced to their “new music.”

CD and stereo system

Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Isn’t it awesome that Goodwill exists to fill that gap in our memories that we didn’t even know we needed? And thanks to Goodwill’s tech programs, many donated items like old stereos, computers, tablets, cameras, and phones can be restored to working order and sold for super affordable prices, making those memories so much more accessible to all. Through Goodwill’s Dell Reconnect program, regional Goodwill organizations who are partners have collectively diverted more than 500 million pounds of computers and computer equipment from landfills at more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Not only that, but some of the money they raise by recycling tech helps to fund programs that train people in your community for careers in tech.  

Who knew that introducing my kids to my former self could be so sustainable, fun, and helpful? All I know is that they’re really digging track 4 and I get to relive past adventures for a few minutes. It feels pretty wonderful.

upcycled thrifted dresser blue and white paint

Credit: @timkimeart

So next time you’re at Goodwill, see what retro tech items you find that feel like a way-back machine. And don’t forget about upcycling the exteriors of old tech. Because even if it’s not functioning, here are some really fun ideas of DIY things you can do with it.

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