SOLAR PRODUCTION131.4MWh OF CLEAN ENERGY
EQUIVALENT TO 101.8 TONS OF CARBON OFFSET
EQUIVALENT TO $14,056 DOLLARS SAVED
EQUIVALENT TO 220,690 MILES NOT DRIVEN
It happens every year – checking holiday lights reveals some non-working strands and you end up with a pile of dead lights. What do you do with them? They can’t go in your curbside recycling bin, since they’re mixed material (plastic, glass, and metal), but it seems like a shame to throw them out knowing that those materials on their own are recyclable.
Look closely at the packaging on a set of holiday lights and you’re likely to see a statement or symbol indicating they shouldn’t be thrown out – it turns out that they’re recyclable (but again, not in your curbside recycling bin)!
How do you find a way to recycle them? The Earth911 recycling search engine can help you find a location – and for Macy’s employees in Cincinnati, our Go Green ERG is your go-to source. The Cincinnati Go Green ERG has been recycling Christmas lights since 2013, with participation growing each year according to Go Green ERG Co-Chair, Melissa Olberding. To date, they’ve collected 929 strands, including 287 this year alone. It’s becoming more popular as people shift from incandescent to LED lights, which have a much longer life (and use less energy).
Many local park districts and even some zoos will accept donations of holiday lights for recycling and some retailers, including many hardware stores and home improvement centers, also offer limited-time recycling dropoff for old holiday lights (typically in late November and early December as people start unpacking their holiday decorations and find the inevitable dead strands).
What Gets Recycled?
Copper wiring in the strands is the most valuable resource, so recyclers separate it from the plastic and other components. The copper can then be used for new wire and even new copper pipes.
The plastic can be recycled into other consumer products, including the soles of slippers - so you could be padding around your house on old holiday lights!
The Energy Savings of LED Lights
LED holiday lights save up to 90 percent of the energy used by traditional incandescent holiday lights, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and every holiday light strand replaced with LED holiday lighting saves 19 kilowatt hours of electricity over the course of the season, according to Clean Energy Resource Teams. That’s the same amount of energy as an ordinary CFL household bulb left on 24 hours a day for two months. That’s a lot of light.
So now you know how to safely and efficiently recycle your old holiday lights and make your holidays – and our planet – a little greener.
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