Bad vinyl... Bad

So, I love the vinyl format, as I’m sure many of you do. While I’m not one that believes the format produces better quality audio (I know this can quickly turn into a debate, which I’m not trying to do), I really appreciate the large factor artwork and the tactile experience of having such a large media format.

Unfortunately, it would seem that vinyl is not only environmentally bad but may even have certain toxic qualities to it. (I’m not a scientist and have not done extensive research on this subject. I will however post the video where I came about this information.)

What are your thoughts on the subject of the ethics of producing vinyl? Does anyone know of any companies that produce “green” or “carbon-neutral” vinyl-style records?

Here is a video by Benn Jordan (Benn and gear / The Flashbulb) discussing the matter in some detail.

Benn Jordan on Vinyl records

I saw that same video a few months ago and put it in my own vinyl thread around here somewhere. I’m considering selling my collection because I hardly ever listen to it. But then that time you want it, it just hits the spot. The farthest I’ve gone is I’m not buying any more records right now (though I have picked up a couple of CDs this year).

As far as the toxic chemicals and such… I’m no expert, but my anecdotal evidence tells me that I probably have worse things to worry about than any chemicals that might be coming off my records. I’m sure it’s not a good thing, but I’m type 1 diabetic, and that has come much closer to killing me (on multiple occasions) than I think any toxins in records ever will. And, FWIW, I do know some people with large collections who are older, and none of them I know have any problems that can be attributed to the chemicals in records. Now again, that’s certainly not a study with any statistical basis, but my personal evidence suggests you can afford to worry more about things like your diet and exercise routine.

As far as the environmental impact… I’ve lived below the average for someone in the US for years just as a side effect of trying to save money and so not consuming as many new goods. That’s something each of us has to decide for themselves, but I make the best decisions I can within reason.

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I think Benn’s right about his assertions regarding vinyl, but the ‘sky is falling’ mentality about it is a bit skewed. On the one hand, it is bad for the environment, from production (PVC, eww) to shipping, and that’s a thing that’s bad. But you could increase the amount of vinyl production tenfold and it still wouldn’t come close to the impact of a single big-box store’s plastic bags. If you want to effectively rail against a dirty industry, there are significantly better targets than records.

I also think the off-gassing bit is a bit overblown. We live in a world of carcinogens. If you live within walking distance of anywhere you can buy anything, the air quality is bad enough that having records in your house is a non-issue. Yes, it’s probably bad for you, but a whole host of things are going to kill you long before your records. You should probably tear out all the plumbing in your house while you’re at it, because it’s either lead (welcome to brain rot), copper (heavy metal poisoning) or…you guessed it, PVC. If you melted down all the records in DJ Shadow’s collection, you might get enough plastic to plumb a decent sized house. You’re living with this stuff every day anyway.

I do understand wanting to make the world a better place and putting your money into things that aren’t harmful, and to that end I can’t really make a case for records. That’s going to be up to each individual as to where they draw the line between enjoyment and activism. I just don’t think there are personal practical reasons to avoid them given how most people live. If you’re an aesthetic living on a mountaintop and drinking the morning dew, yeah, probably avoid.

And I say all this as someone who grew up in the age of records and currently couldn’t give two shits about them. I personally think it’s a terrible medium with no upside other than physical fetishism and misplaced nostalgia, but I don’t think the perceived harm is a reason to avoid them if you enjoy them.

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I haven’t been personally poisoned by vinyl and it certainly hasn’t killed any house plants to date, but I did go through a physical medium collecting phase and I look back on my life during this period as an extremely dark time, because apparently I had nothing better to do than admire my collection and maybe listen to 1/4 of it. All the rare stuff was handled with so much care that its only use became collecting dust, which led to me listening to the digital version anyway and… there’s nothing practical about listening to tapes and vinyl in this day and age. It’s a bunch of shit.

Ethically I have no concerns, although I’d love to check out the video (and had no idea that The Flashbulb was a youboober until now). I just personally never want to get tangled up with something so stupid ever again.

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Probably my favorite electronic music makering channel on Da Toob. Benn’s smart, entertaining and proficient.

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@xSANTAxDURSTx

I’m with you on the practicality side of things. I have never been much of collector of things just for the sake of it (vinyl is a recent exception and normally I would listen to them fairly frequently, however my turntable is not currently set up, so my collection is collecting dust). Even some of my cool music collectables outside of vinyl just sit around and don’t really seem to provide me any value.

Side note, Benn Jordan’s YouTube channel is dope.

And hilarious, which I suppose falls under “entertaining”

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Absolutely. I caught one of his shows in KC last year and he was just as charming and entertaining as you’d expect. Good people and I make a bee-line for his channel every time he posts. I don’t necessarily even care about whatever it he’s talking about (like product reviews for stuff I’ll never buy), but I find his whole demeanor enjoyable enough that I’ll watch it for the entertainment value. Though a lot of his stuff is technically interesting as well - generative music, Reaktor, etc.

I’d love to see him live. Unfortunately, I’m not really close to any of the places he tends to play (I thing WA is a little far for him, understandably).

He plays in LA occasionally (he was on his way back to GA from there when I saw him), but that’s a drive from WA and I don’t think he’s out there too frequently. Definitely worth going if you get a chance, he’s great live.

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Let’s face it, almost everything that Humanity produces is bad for the environment…

Before feeling guilty about buying a few vinyl records from time to time, maybe we should all be thinking about the many ways not to let consumerism have the best of us.

Yes, I love vinyls, I collect them within reason.

I also recycle everything I can: paper, cardboard, glass, plastics. I make sure not to waste as much as possible. I’m married, we only have one car we share. I don’t leave the lights on for no reason at all times. I don’t let the water run more than it should. I don’t buy bottled water ever. I’ll eat leftovers for days instead of throwing food in the garbage can. Etc. etc.

There’s a million ways to lower your footprint on the planet, starting in your home. When you start recycling, you realize the insane amounts of garbage that every single one of us produces every day. The day everybody does their part (starting with corporations - they’re the worst polluters and creators of “needs” that are anything but), then I’ll start worrying about vinyl records.

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