If you are like me, you probably have at least two or three strands of holiday lights that were handed down from your mom when you were in college. Some of the light bulbs are broken so the whole strand doesn’t work…but some day, in the spirit of reusing and doing your share for the environment, you were going to try to find those replacement bulbs and keep using those lights, right?
Your idea may have been a good one a few years ago, but things have changed in the holiday light world. Not only are these old-school incandescent lights energy-suckers, but they could also be unsafe whether or not they are missing bulbs. I am sure you know that the LED lights that have replaced the incandescent lights are a lot easier to deal with, but did you know that LED lights can be up to 90% more energy-efficient? While they are more expensive, they have a much longer life and they don’t feel hot when you touch them…that sounds much safer to me, and a lot easier than trying to find those replacement bulbs for your old strands.
That said, please don’t get rid of your old strands if they are still working. You may want to add a strand of LED lights to your collection little by little since they do cost more than the old style.
What should you do with the old lights when they are no longer working? Please don’t throw them away! There are companies out there who will recycle them for you. The lights are shredded and separated by components (glass, PVC, and copper). These components will be reused as much as possible, and this effort far outweighs letting the strands end up in your local landfill. If you remove the light bulbs from the strand, the strand itself can be recycled as scrap metal, as can power cords.
Companies like HolidayLEDs.com will not only recycle your lights for you, they will also give you 15% off your order of anything on their website when you send them lights to recycle. I like their suggestion of coordinating with your friends and neighbors to collect old lights to send to them for recycling
You could also try Earth911.com
to see if there is a holiday lights recycling facility near you.