Recycling, Donating & Storing Your Christmas Lights

Strings of Christmas Lights, wound up for storage

Recycle, donate, or store your Christmas light strings

Getting with the holiday program entails a lot of joyful shopping, wrapping and lighting. You know, deck the halls! But after the last Christmas cookie is gobbled down and we begin to think about the New Year our households are often left with storage debacles and waste. Where to put all the stuff and how to dispose of old or unneeded items?

One item that always seems to show up on the list of post-holiday hassles is Christmas lights. Depending on what you’re working with – working lights to keep, extra light strings you don’t need anymore, or non-working strands to be disposed of – you have several options: recycling, donating, and carefully storing.

Recycling Christmas Lights that No Longer Work

Workers recycling Christmas lights

Every year, workers shred Christmas light strings to recycle them.

Festive American families love to decorate with tons of holiday light strands. This means multiple seasons of coiling, uncoiling, stringing and sometimes 24/7 displays of lighted bulbs. Even the heaviest duty Christmas lights have a lifespan which leads to the question of where lights go after they’ve expired.

This holiday season we recommend recycling Christmas lights that no longer work. The Christmas light recycling process sounds rough and merciless. Strings are loaded into giant shredders, whose sharp teeth reduce them to tiny bits of plastic, glass, and copper wire. All those little pieces are then cleaned and sorted, so they can be melted down and used to manufacture new strings of lights.

Your usual recycling pick-up probably won’t handle Christmas lights, but there may exist a number of options for free drop-off of old or damaged lights. Some home improvement businesses take old strands and there are also free recycling centers for Christmas lights. For more details, check your city’s government website or search the web for local options.

Donating Christmas Light Strings

The holidays are a special time for us all. For families who are struggling with unemployment, poverty or the loss of a family member though, the arrival of Christmas can equal stress and pressure to make ends meet. Few things lift spirits higher than the simple hanging of bright and twinkling lights on an evergreen tree or in the frame of a window.

If you open up decoration storage this season and notice lights to spare then why not brighten the home of another family? Check with area shelters, non-profit organizations or businesses that organize holiday drives of goods and decorations and give the gift of dazzling light.

Storing Your Christmas Lights for Next Year

Getting the most out of Christmas lights is a cinch with just a little extra effort. As you pack up after each holiday, remove light strands from your tree and other displays with patience – taking care to avoid knots, breaks and pinches. Use cardboard from gift deliveries to wind strands around as you unravel from the tree. This not only keeps strands flat and organized but it is also a smart way to reuse materials. Or purchase Christmas light reel and bag sets for simple winding around a spool.

Put smart storage and handling of Christmas tree light recycling on the holiday to-do list this winter. You and generations of Christmas-lovers to come will be glad you did!

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