LED light strands are clearly the smart way to go, but what do you do with those old Christmas lights? First off, do not discard them in the trash. Light recycling programs know what to do with old, used and even broken incandescent holiday light strings. We've tracked down places and programs that will recycle Christmas lights, incandescent light bulbs and strings. Some offer free trade-ins or discounts on new LED holiday lights. Take the time to recycle.
Still up in the air about buying... LEDs? 10 Reasons to Make the Switch to LED Christmas Lights
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Holiday LEDs accepts holiday lights and strands throughout the year--not just at Christmas time. They request that you package the lights carefully and send them to their Wisconson headquarters. After that, here's what happens:
- The lights are removed from packaging, which is then recycled
- The lights will be processed. Any material that can't be recycled (i.e. loose bulbs)is discarded
- When a substantial number of lights have been collected, they are taken to a third-party recycling facility... in Jackson, Mississippi.
- The lights go through a commercial shredder, which chops the lights up into small pieces
- The pieces are then further processed and sorted into separate components that make up lights (pvc, glass, copper)
- Materials are separated and transported to a regional center for further processing. In some cases, the pvc cannot be recycled
Send in your old Christmas lights (incadescents) for recycling, and HolidayLEDs.com will send you a coupon for 25% off LED Christmas lights ordered from its site.
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Want to know how much electricity your holiday lights use? If nothing has convinced you to switch to LEDs, this calculator may do the trick.
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Christmas Light Source accepts broken lights for recycling year 'round. All recycling proceeds are donated to Toys for Tots.
Concerned about what to replace them with? Peruse our list of the Best LED Christmas Lights
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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information on the importance of recycling CFLs, fluorescents, and other older lights that might contain mercury, along with links to state and other programs.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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For more than 20 years, Earth911 has been a go-to source for recycling news and programs. Check out the site for environmental updates along with how and where to recycle lights and other household products.
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Like many hardware and home stores, Home Depot accepts items like CFLs, car batteries, cell phones, lead-acid batteries, non-automotive lithium-ion batteries, and nickel-cadmium batteries. Check with your nearest store for details.
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IKEA furniture stores recycle CFLs and other products like beverage containers, batteries, and cardboard at their stores, usually near the entrance.
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Use LampRecycle's interactive map of the United States to find a light recycling program in your state. Programs and laws change periodically—check for updates.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Like Home Depot, Lowe's also accepts CFLs and the same items for recycling. Call your local store for information.
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City and Local Programs
Check with your city or local government office for information on recycling programs. Some cities offer curbside recycling programs, while others have special days or events dedicated to the recycling of various products.
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If you send your unwrapped strings of old incandescent holiday lights to LED Warehouse, they'll recycle them and give you a coupon for 10 percent off their LED light products.
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Additional Sources and Programs
Other light recycling sources and programs include:
- Orchard Supply Hardware, which has a recycling program similar to other hardware stores
- Aubuchon Hardware stores
- True Value stores
If you can't find a store that recycles lights and your city doesn't have a program, check with your local or state environmental regulatory agency to see if it's OK for you to put used or broken CFLs in the regular household trash. If so, seal the bulb tightly in a plastic bag and place it into... the trash for the next trash collection.