It’s that time of the year again. Between navigating all of your post-Christmas returns, and the after Christmas sales, you have to find the time to take down the tree, the decorations, and of course, all of the lights. But there are some environmental concerns to be mindful of before you throw away your strings of lights, and it’s not just that they will probably end up in a landfill.
If you have older light strings that contain Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs, or CFLs, you have to be very careful about the way that you dispose of them. While CFLs use less electricity than traditional lightbulbs, they release mercury into the environment when they are broken — so just throwing them into the garbage may not be the safest way to get rid of these lights. Instead, consider recycling them with one of the options below and switch over to LED lights, for which your wallet and the environment will thank you.
- MOM’s Organic: MOM’s is more than a grocery store. In addition to selling organic and sustainably produced foods, it also has recycling centers in store specifically for hard-to-recycle products like batteries, cork, Brita filters, and — you guessed it — old Christmas lights. MOM’s gives the working and nonworking Christmas lights it receives to Capitol Asset Recycling, where the old lights are used to “create roofing and construction materials, piping, car batteries, other electronics, lead wheel weights, flatware, jewelry, and more.” The store also accept lights during its annual Holiday Lights Recycling drive, so check with your local MOM’s to see when that will be.
- Goodwill: Goodwill accepts your working Christmas lights. Have too many (or want to replace the set you have?) Drop ’em off at a donation bin near you or find your local store.
- Your local municipal waste service: You’re not the only one in the neighborhood taking down the Christmas lights. The EPA recommends contacting your local recycling service to see if it is accepting working or nonworking Christmas lights. It may set up a specific day to collect donations or be able to redirect you to a local organization that is taking Christmas lights.
- Christmas Light Source: If you send Christmas Light Source your old, broken lights, the company will give you 10% off your next order of string lights to replace them. Learn more about where to mail your lights on its website. All proceeds from the recycling process are donated to Toys for Tots.
- Holiday LEDs: Another recycling service you can mail your old lights to is Holiday LEDs, which is offering 15% off your next purchase if you mail ’em broken lights during their year-round program. Check out the details on how they prefer you to ship your old lights on their site.
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