Remember the days pre-Spotify playlists?
You had those things called “CDs” and “cassettes” and you’d spend hours painstakingly crafting mixtapes, where every minute mattered.
Hilariously, mixtapes are now something of a nostalgic curiosity to younger generations (Urban Outfitters even had a great moment a few years ago, selling ‘mystery’ mixtapes for around £19 a pop).
But one music fan didn’t have to cough up in order to recapture some of her childhood mixtape magic.
In 1995, 12-year-old Stella Wedell lost a mixtape while on a Spanish holiday.
Twenty-five years later she walked into an exhibition of plastic sea debris by British artist Mandy Barker, and spotted her lost tape.
And it was even playable.
Barker had found the tape on the Playa de Barlovento beach in Lanzarote where it had washed up and asked an expert at Plymouth University to restore it.
The track list was solid as well.Twelve year-old Wedell had better taste than most pre-pubescents (hello, S Club 7), and included tracks from the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Shaggy and Bob Marley.
Wedell, who is originally from Berlin, says the tape instantly felt familiar when she spotted it, thanks to hours of playing it as a child.
“When I was reading the tracklist, it seemed very familiar to me,” she told Press Association.
“I always made tapes from my CDs at this time to listen to them with my Walkman, especially for holidays.
“I took a picture of it and compared it with the original CD, which I still have - and it was exactly the same tracklist, but starting with track three. I remember that I didn’t like the first two songs on the CD because I felt they were too old so I wouldn’t have included them when I recorded the tape aged 12.”
But sadly, like all good stories in 2020, there’s a darker implication of Wedell’s great discovery: it shows just how long plastic lasts for, which is bad news for our environment.
Plastic pollution costs the world around £1.9 trillion a year and severely impacts marine wildlife.
“This is an amazing story and another example of the problem of plastic pollution,” said Professor Richard Thomspon, head of international marine litter research unit at Plymouth University.
“It is very difficult to say exactly how long the tape has been in the sea, but the fact it has survived intact shows the durability of plastic and the threat it can pose to the marine environment.”
At least Wedell’s pre-teen music taste was… stellar.