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    San Francisco Goodwill Launches Challenge to Solve VHS Disposal Problem

    Hand holds VHS tapeLast month, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties (CA) launched an ideas-based challenge to find a solution to the growing disposal problem of VHS tapes. As new technologies have increasingly replaced VHS tapes, these former staples of American living rooms are filling up landfills at an alarming rate. The tapes are harmful to the environment and pose a threat to the safety and health of communities as the chemicals coating the tape — toxic ferric oxide, iron oxide and chromium dioxide — seep into groundwater.

    The San Francisco Goodwill notes that the solution to this problem could come from anywhere or anyone. From now through April, the agency will host a weekly drawing based on solutions submitted to this challenge.

    In June, the winners will fly to San Francisco for a one-day conference as part of the San Francisco Goodwill’s ReValue Lab, which brings together diverse individuals ranging from  influential venture capitalists to budding high school geniuses.

    “Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Goodwill is no stranger to the speed of innovation. We see the benefits, but we also see the consequences; and addressing landfill toxins brought about by consumer goods is one of those unforeseen issues,” said Kate Moynihan, chief of development, communications and innovation at the San Francisco Goodwill.

    The Goodwill points out the overwhelming scale of this problem by looking at the movie The Lion King. As the best-selling video of all time, the movie generated 55 million VHS copies that are now making their way toward landfills in communities worldwide.

    This ideas-based competition is meant to be the first step in helping the world figure out what can be done to keep this glut of cassettes out of landfills. The San Francisco Goodwill wants to bridge the gap between Goodwill’s social enterprise and the wealth of ingenuity represented by environmental activists, business innovators, government officials, academic partners and more.

    The first place winner will receive a prize of $5,000; second place will receive $3,000 and the weekly winners will be awarded on a graduated scale for a total, additional $2,000 over the life of the contest.

    To sign up as an individual or as a team, click here.

    Dara Kahn
    Dara is Goodwill Industries International's communications project specialist. She works across the agency's communications team, helping with regular web communications and writing for various organizational publications.
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    • Jesse Skeen
      November 18th, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Media should NEVER be disposed of! Blank tapes should be checked for any one-of-a-kind home videos, older ones (early 80s and before) should also be checked for any rare off-air TV recordings which could potentially be the only surviving copies of some things! Movie tapes may seem to be more disposable, but even those should be kept- SOMEONE out there will appreciate them!

      I guess that “idea competition” is already over as it wouldn’t let me sign up. It absolutely sickens me to think of a single valuable tape going into the landfill or being destroyed. My idea would be to set up a worldwide repository where blank tapes are checked for content and anything valuable is digitized or otherwise backed up, and at least ONE copy of EVERY pre-recorded release is saved for posterity.

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