I just love Christmas lights, don’t you? They’re colorful and fun! I love our Earth too: its majestic beauty and bright colors. All of its natural splendor makes me want to take care of it as best I can. Santa insists that we elves learn the importance of the three R’s up at the North Pole — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! And, since my name is Sparkle I of course want to do everything I can to keep our world clean and sparkly. To be honest though, have you ever even thought about recycling your old lights? You might be surprised that you can recycle Christmas lights!
Throwing them out at the end of the season or the end of their lifespan seems wasteful to most people. In fact, I’m sure many of you have always assumed that it is the only option out there. While I’ve got a little break from my daily duties, I thought we should take a look at how to recycle Christmas lights and why it’s necessary.
Why should you recycle Christmas lights?
That’s a great question! For starters, Christmas light strands can contain small amounts of lead and other substances. You’ll find this usually in PVC wire coating. Disposing of them in the trash can cause those harmful materials to leach into the water table.
Similarly, while one strand of lights in a landfill may not take up much space, every little bit adds up. If everyone throws out their old strands, it becomes a much larger issue.
Let’s rewind to Recycling 101 from elementary school. Do you remember talking about how long it takes for various materials to break down? The components of a strand of lights will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. They’re biodegradable, yes, but very slowly.
This adds to the overabundance of waste. Also, if a homeowner doesn’t dispose of them properly, light strands can pose a danger to local wildlife who may get tangled in a tossed-out strand.
How to recycle old Christmas lights
Your next question is inevitable, how exactly? Do they go in with the regular recycling? There are a few possibilities here, actually. Read on to find the best option for you.
Home Improvement Stores
Whether big box or local mom and pop, many home improvement stores offer light recycling. Some have a container at the entrance where you simply drop off old strands. Some may even offer a special incentive (ex: a coupon towards new lights) for bringing in your old ones. Contact your local store for specifics.
Local Solid Waste Authority
Your local solid waste authority is a great resource. Contact them to see if there is a program already in place in your area. Some areas accept them as part of their solid waste recycling program. Other areas accept them at their electronics recycling centers.
If there is no local option available, mail-in recycling is your best bet. Many companies recycle Christmas lights online. Find the one that best suits your needs, box them up in a cardboard box (also recyclable!), and send them off. A minor amount of work on your part that has a big effect on our environment.
Other ways to recycle Christmas lights
Recycling your Christmas lights can also mean repurposing them! There is no shortage of creative ideas on websites like Pinterest. Here are a couple of my favorites.
First, smaller strands work well for many craft projects. One idea I’m sure you’ll love is to add an old strand to the inside of a glass block. This is a great way to reuse older-style incandescent bulbs as you switch to more energy-efficient LEDs. You can easily decorate the outside of the glass block with vinyl or paint — maybe supporting your favorite local college sports team. These make a great gift for that special someone or hard to buy for person in your life.
Second, you can also use clear or single-color light strands year-round in your home. Light up an artificial tree in your stairway landing to add a fun design element to your space. Just be sure you put your light on some kind of smart outlet or timer. That way, you’re not using unnecessary energy. These make great party decorations to turn on or plug in when you have family or friends over visiting.
As a third option, why not teach your kids about sustainability by passing down your old strands to them to use as room decor? Whether it’s a college dorm room, child’s bedroom, or playroom, your kids can take ownership of their space and show off their unique style. Hanging an old strand of lights functions beautifully as a soft nightlight for your younger children as well! As with artificial trees, be sure to put these on some kind of timer or smart outlet. With most smartphones having built-in assistants nowadays, this is a great way to prolong the life of your old lights without tossing them in the trash.
Working with Twinkle Nights saves you from having to recycle Christmas lights
Supply shortages can mean more people are vying for the same small selection of lights at the store. In addition, storing lights at the end of one season can leave you with a jumbled mess and broken bulbs at the start of the next. That’s no fun, and as you know, I’m all about having fun!
Designing, installing, general upkeep, and tear down of your lighting display can take a lot of time. Save yourself the hassle of dealing with tangled strands, broken bulbs, and your secret fear of heights. Instead, partner with the team at Twinkle Nights!
After all, rental lights from Twinkle Nights are so easy! The team handles installation and tear-down for you, enabling you to spend more time enjoying the holiday season. Plus, you don’t have to find room in your already packed storage space to store all those strands until next year.
Here are some other resources to help light up your holiday season!