Old, burnt-out, damaged, outdated; there comes a point when it’s time to retire those old strands of incandescent holiday lights. Switching to LED lights for indoor and outdoor decorating allows you to save significantly on electricity costs, which benefits the environment. Just because those old incandescent lights weren’t very good at conserving energy when in use doesn’t mean they can’t do anything good for the planet in their afterlife. Whether you’re switching to LED holiday lights or just getting rid of damaged strands, recycle holiday lights rather than throw them away!
Why you should recycle holiday lights
When you put your old holiday lights out with the trash, they end up in a landfill. Because almost all the elements which make up these lights are not biodegradable, the holiday lights you throw away this year will exist in the ground for thousands of years! If you recycle old holiday lights, the materials can be reused now, rather than having a negative impact on our planet.
Discarded light strands can also be a safety hazard to animals. Broken bulbs can cut a critter rummaging through a landfill, and the strands themselves can be dangerous. An animal can become tangled in the strands, and may be unable to free itself. We all have probably experienced the frustration of untangling those light strands; think about how difficult it could be for an animal. If an animal is unable to untangle itself, the lights can pose further risks, restricting motion or catching on trees or shrubs.
How recycling holiday lights works
The light bulb coupler and socket are removed from the strand, and the strand itself is then shredded to separate the components. The usable byproducts which can come from your old holiday light strands are glass, rubber, plastic, copper, tin steel, and brass. The byproducts are then sent to refineries for reuse.
While some holiday lights are recycled in the United States, some organizations send lights to China for processing. In the U.S., the insulation which comes off the wires is thrown away because there isn’t much industrial demand for these byproducts. In China, there is demand for these materials and the rubber can be reused, often by manufacturers and factories.
How to recycle holiday lights
Many communities, waste management services, and other companies are offering ways to recycle holiday lights. Check with your local recycling service to see if they accept holiday lights. Your town government may also hold periodic recycling events where you can recycle holiday lights. Some hardware and home improvement stores offer programs around the holidays where you can bring in your old holiday light strands for recycling; some even offer discounts for purchasing new energy-efficient LED holiday lights. If you don’t have a resource to recycle holiday lights locally, there are organizations which will accept your light strands by mail.
Before you pitch those old light strands, think about a safer, earth-friendly solution. Even though the holiday season is coming to a close this year, Frye Electric offers outdoor lighting services year-round! Our energy-efficient LED lights are perfect for outdoor weddings, parties, and more all year long. For more information, please contact us.