Where to Recycle Christmas Lights
Learn how to recycle Christmas lights responsibly
Published: March 18, 2023
Taking stock of your holiday light collection can seem daunting. With so many different types, it’s hard to know what will work with your setup year-to-year. You may also have a tough time when it comes to trying to decide which lights to keep and how to store them without creating a tangled mess.
When it comes to disposing of used Christmas lights, lights thrown in the garbage will end up sitting in a landfill for years. This outcome makes trashing them the least desirable option for getting rid of old holiday lights. Depending on the makeup of the lights, they can release harmful chemicals into the environment while in a landfill.
It’s best not to throw your old Christmas lights in the trash because many materials fundamental in producing Christmas lights are reusable. It’s a waste to let all the materials go unused. Christmas lights are made from plastic, glass, and copper materials. Specialized recycling facilities will break down and separate the lights into their respective parts. These raw materials are then able to be used again for different products. One Chinese town process 20 million pounds of recycled Christmas lights a year into many items, including slipper soles!
We’ll let you know where to recycle Christmas lights responsibly, so they don’t pile up in landfills. These solutions will keep both you and the environment happy.
How to Recycle Christmas Lights
Companies come out with new designs for holiday lights yearly that are more energy efficient, colorful, or cool in different shapes. It’s normal to want to refresh or revamp your current collection and get rid of clunky old light strands.
Whether your lights are burned out, out of fashion, or just out of room among all the ornaments and nutcrackers in your storage closet, we’ve gathered a few solutions for you to consider when recycling used holiday lights. Read on to see our recommendations for safely, quickly, and easily recycling Christmas lights.
Start by Looking Locally
There are many Christmas light collection sites across the country in various forms. For starters, your town might offer Christmas light pick up alongside their curbside recycling, similar to how some handle Christmas tree removal. Don’t just put them in the blue bin, as the strands can get tangled in the machinery if not disposed of properly.
Calling your local municipal waste services can help determine whether someone can come to collect your Christmas lights or point you toward another local organization taking donations. If your local facility doesn’t have the right capabilities to handle Christmas lights, they might have contact with a third party that does. Many cities have one or two days a month after the holiday season when they accept light drop-offs to recycle. To find out, check with your local waste management or recycling department.
Solid waste centers generally have recycling drop-off points for e-waste, including holiday lights.
Many hardware stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware have recycling for electronics as well, which includes recycling Christmas lights. Smaller, local hardware stores may also accept old Christmas lights. A good number of home improvement stores you can buy lights at will also accept returns to recycle for you.
Residents of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. can take lights to the annual Holiday Lights Recycling Drive at MOM’s Organic Market. This store collects holiday lights – no matter their condition – during the winter. The donated lights get taken by A Better Way Recycling facilities, which breaks them down into their commodities, and creates roofing and construction materials, piping, car batteries, and more. MOM’s provides an excellent option for those looking to know more directly what happens to the lights after they’re donated.
Donate Your Christmas Lights
Thrift stores often accept working Christmas lights as part of their regular donations, particularly around the holiday season. Consider calling ahead to ensure holiday lights are being taken before bringing them with you on your next trip to your favorite local thrift store.
Larger thrifting chain organizations like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity usually accept Christmas lights. Still, it’s worth giving them a call to double-check before swinging by with your old ones. Donating to one of these places is a great way to give back to your community by providing someone with the ability to fulfill their needs.
You can also check with people you know to see if anyone needs working lights. Think about friends or neighbors who just moved and might need a hand adding some holiday cheer to their place.
Recycle Christmas Lights via Mail
There are many benefits to using mail-in Christmas light recycling services, the primary one being how easy it is to do, especially if you have access to an outgoing mailbox. Some of these organizations offer discounts on future orders, and others use donation proceeds to benefit charity organizations.
Christmas Lights Source
The Christmas Lights Source company has a charity donation drive called the Christmas Lights Recycling Program that accepts broken Christmas lights, recycles them for you, and uses proceeds to purchase toys for children. Just box up your lights and send them to:
Christmas Light Source
4313 Elmwood Drive
Benbrook, TX 76116
Including your name and email address with the package will allow the company to send you a 10% off discount code for a single Christmas lights order per household. This program is active all year and benefits children in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
The Holiday LEDs program offers mail-in recycling services as well as coupons and discounts for eligible returns. This program also takes lights all year round, so keep them in mind if you’re prone to procrastinating. We wouldn’t want the Easter Bunny to see your old holiday lights lying around! Ship your lights to:
Holiday LEDs Recycling
W227N6225 Sussex Road, Door #12
Sussex, WI 53089
You’ll have to pay for shipping, but they encourage using the smallest box and the slowest shipping to minimize your out-of-pocket cost. Holiday LEDs also accept drop-offs for those in the nearby Wisconsin area at the above location, the same as the mailing address.
This environmentally-conscious company offers a few different options for Christmas light recycling. GreenCitizen, a San Francisco Bay Area company, accepts mail-in Christmas light recycling packages across the country. You will need to fill out the mail-in recycling form on their website and pay a small recycling fee of $1 per pound of lights you send. You’ll receive the mailing address once you complete the form.
You can also use their Green Directory to search for nearby recycling locations in their database and filter by those accepting Christmas lights. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can use the GreenCitizen local drop-off service at their EcoCenter in Burlingame. In some cases, GreenCitizen will even pick up lights from your house or office space for those in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Get Creative & DIY Your Old Christmas Lights
In addition to recycling, consider upcycling your Christmas lights, too! You’re sure to find many arts and crafts online involving Christmas lights. The activity can even turn into fun for the family or group of friends to engage in together.
You can construct a trendy mason jar or wine bottle craft using lights, which is an excellent way to camouflage one or two missing bulbs. The individual bulbs can also be placed into a wreath to give your traditional decorations a brighter feel – this idea works particularly well for larger, more colorful bulbs. Try braiding a strand of lights with other types of garlands for a one-of-a-kind decoration for your home. You can find more ideas for crafts using Christmas lights by searching on Pinterest.
It can also be fun to consider leaving holiday lights up all year. Many people enjoy displaying lights on their front porches or patio each night throughout the year. You can also bring them inside to add a cozy and whimsical feel to a bedroom or living room area. Try draping them over a mirror or armoire to add flair to your interior decor.
For bulbs that don’t work anymore, try covering them with a coat of spray paint color of your choice for a new look. You’ll get to hold on to your lights and have brand-new ones simultaneously!
Final Words on Where to Recycle Your Used Christmas Lights
We hope the article has given you a better idea of how to dispose of any old, used, functioning, or otherwise, Christmas lights. Any of these environmentally friendly and safe options is preferable to trashing your old lights. Whether you donate, mail in, or DIY your old lights, you’ll make a great choice by being proactive in preserving the environment.
Since you’ll no doubt be putting those lights back up before you know it, let us know when you’re ready to discuss your next holiday or event lighting creation!
We offer lighting consultations year-round for all of your holiday and event needs. Schedule your free consultation with us today.