There’s no better way to welcome the holiday season than with Christmas lights. For as long as I can remember, my family was into outside decoration, big time. And when I say decorations, I’m talking elaborate scenic productions. My father crafted his designs with intricate plywood cutouts and lights on the roof. But it didn’t stop there. There would also be complimentary ground coordination along with a matching tree display. People drove from all over to see it, and we always won the town’s decoration contest. I think our display would have definitely made Clark Griswald proud. *Peep the title from one of my favorite holiday movies.
Somewhere along the way, either when testing, during the light show, or after the Holiday season, we always found a few strings of lights that no longer worked. Sometimes a simple fix like switching out a bulb or two would suffice. But there comes a time when that quick fix no longer works, and the string would be removed from our inventory for recycling. My uncle worked in recycling, so he always took care of this for us.
Now that I’ve worked in a recycling entity, I’ve gotten to see the extent of what people discard regularly. And sometimes, people don’t have recycling options available. If that is the case for you, the big thing I need to say is, please resist the urge to toss the lights in the trash.
When it comes to holiday light recycling, there are environmental concerns to think about. Lights are made from copper, glass, and plastic. All of those materials are valuable and can actually be recycled and reclaimed. Dynamic and other similar recycling centers collect millions of pounds of old lights each year. Centers process them by crushing the lights and separating the materials and then bundle them for reuse. If components cannot be reused, they are processed down to their smallest form and recycled.
So how do I recycle my lights?
I encourage you to call your local municipality for more information on how to recycle your unwanted lights, as every entity has its own policies. They may also point you to recycling options with their local Rotary chapters, as they host their traditional light displays.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to fix my lights hanging on top of our garage. One side seems to be a tad little brighter than the other.
La Crosse, Wis. area residents can find light recycling options here:
Harter’s Quick Cleanup
2859 Larson Street, La Crosse, WI
La Crosse County Hazardous Materials
3202 Berlin Drive, La Crosse, WI
City of La Crosse