Knowing how to recycle Christmas lights is a good eco-friendly contribution. If your Christmas lights aren’t working, or you have too many, or want to get rid of some, you’ll likely wonder if they can be recycled.

A feature image for a blog post about how to recycle Christmas lights.

Electrical or electronic items often cause people to stop and wonder about recycling because they don’t fall into the category of everyday things that we normally recycle. So we’re more unsure of what to do with them.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re going with the best possible option because Christmas lights are one of those items that can cause many issues in the landfill.

Several Factors in Recycling Christmas Lights

If you live in Canada, the answer to whether you can recycle them will depend on where you live. And unfortunately, in some places, the answer you’ll get from your local waste management authority is going to be to put them in the trash bin or bag.

However, even when the instruction says to put them in the trash, your municipality may still have a designated location for dropping off electrical equipment. Always check for any special instructions for electrical or hazardous waste.

However, all is not lost. There are some possibilities that might lessen their impact.

How to Recycle Christmas Lights

If you have Christmas lights and you need to get rid of them, the first thing to do is check to see if they’re in working order. If they still work or need some bulbs replaced, you don’t need to trash them. That should be the last resort.

If the Christmas lights still work, you can:

  • Sell them online or in a garage sale
  • Donate them to a secondhand store
  • Give them to a charity
  • Trade them as part of a neighborhood or family swap

If the lights work fine, there are many ways to give them new life without just dumping them in the trash. It prolongs the time when they’ll need to go to a recycling depot or the landfill.

If the lights are not able to be used anymore, you’ll have to find out where to dispose of them in your area. There may be a recycling opportunity, or they may have to go to the landfill.

As suggested above, check with your local waste management authority to see if they have an immediate answer. Some groups have a website where you can look it up.

You can also check with any recycling depots in your region. Another possibility is to ask at the local hardware outlets. Some of them have recycling programs or can offer a suggestion.

When it comes to things like Christmas lights, the best thing to do is avoid them whenever you can, and thus the difficulty of what to do with them later. It comes down to what matters more in the long run.

How to Avoid Using Christmas Lights

If you want to avoid the waste of discarding strings of lights in the future, the best thing to do is not buy new ones. Or if you do feel you can’t go without Christmas lights, try to keep it to a minimum.

You’ll do your wallet and the environment a favor if you stick to a modest display of festive lights instead of covering every inch of your home and yard in holiday lighting.

Another tip is to become more mindful with your buying decisions and resist the temptation to feel you must have the latest designs every year. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a real threat to the health of the planet.

You can also use single-colored light bulbs for exterior sockets instead of long strings of lights to cut down on how much you use. Colored bulbs that are only used during the holiday season will last for many years.

Of course, you don’t need to deliberately get rid of strings of lights you already have. Just be conscious of not adding more or replacing them as they wear out.

Like recycling Christmas trees, doing your best to reuse or recycle Christmas lights will reduce the environmental footprint and increase the collective mindset that we need to care for the planet.

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