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The holiday season is upon us. After you get through shopping for gifts, entertaining guests and maybe even binge-watching Hallmark holiday movies with your family, it's finally time to focus on taking down your decorations. The biggest task is handling the Christmas tree and ornaments, but you also have to tackle the lights.
Keep in mind that there are valid environmental concerns to consider when it comes to disposing of Christmas lights. Believe it or not, it's not as easy and simple as tossing your old lights in the trash. Beyond just likely ending up in a landfill, there are a host of other reasons why you should rethink this approach.
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 may release mercury into the environment if 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.
How to Recycle Christmas Lights
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.
Thrift Stores: Your local thrift store, including Goodwill, should accept 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.
Hardware Stores: Retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe's and Ace Hardware will gladly accept your faulty Christmas lights if you're looking for a responsible way to recycle them. Consult with your local hardware store for specifics, including drop-off locations.
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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