Sustainability| 2 min read

Here's How To Recycle Your Old, Tangled, And Broken Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are a favorite of anyone who loves decorating for the holidays.

Christmas lights are a favorite of anyone who loves decorating for the holidays. The tradition stems from the old days when people would light small candles and place them around their Christmas trees. Obviously for most, having lit fire on tree in their homes seems a little dangerous, so safe little Christmas lights were a pretty reasonable alternative.

The average Christmas tree has around 300 lights on it, and with as many as 30 million trees sold in the United States each holiday season, well, that’s a lot of Christmas lights! Often times, when the lights get too tangled to bother with or burn out, they get thrown in the trash. But did you know that Christmas lights can be recycled?

Before you say “to heck with these tangled old lights,” something to consider is what happens when a string of Christmas lights is recycled. Each year, 20 million pounds of recycled Christmas lights find their way on a barge headed for the city of Shijao in China. From here, the lights are melted down and their valuable components, like brass, copper, and plastic, are separated.

Is this process good for the environment? Not exactly. Is it better than throwing them in the trash? Absolutely. But the best option is to untangle your Christmas lights, replace burned out bulbs, and keep using them.

But if your lights simply can’t be saved, recycling becomes your best option. But how do you go about recycling your Christmas lights?

Take them to a hardware or thrift store

Most hardware stores around the country, big and small, do accept Christmas lights for recycling. It’s recommended that you call ahead to double check. Many thrift stores take them as well, particularly the major chain thrift stores. They sell the lights by the pound to recycling companies to help fund their operations.

Send them to a charity

There are a few charities around the world that take Christmas lights. The most popular of them is the Christmas Light Recycling Program, which takes old lights and recycles them, using the money they make from the lights to buy books and toys for less advantaged children. These toys are given to DFW Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. You can mail these lights to:

Christmas Light Source Recycling Program
4313 Elmwood Drive
Benbrook, TX 76116


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