How To Dispose Of Christmas Lights

Luna Aston | Wednesday, July 20, 2022

It just wouldn't feel like Christmas without all the festive lighting. Christmas lights adorning trees all over the world brings so much joy to many. But the impact they have on the environment is also considerable.

It's important we acknowledge the negative environmental impact we add at Christmas time. Every year an extra 30% more waste is produced at this time of year alone. We therefore must take the necessary steps where possible to reduce it. You should not be looking to purchase Christmas lights for one off use. They will easily last for many years, so make sure to store them away for following years.

Christmas lights can also be known as fairly lights. These are usually used all year round, not just at Christmas. There isn't much difference when determining a Christmas light from a fair light. Unless you are superstitious; then you would not be want to keep your Christmas lights up after twelfth night. But when it comes to disposing of them the same rules apply.

Can I put fairy lights in the bin?

You should never put fairy lights in the bin, for multiple reasons. Electrical products should not be put directly into the trash. They need to be recycled correctly to eliminate any impact on the environment through landfill. Depending on the type or age of you fairly lights, they may use CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulb). This is more common in much older types of lights. These bulbs can contain mercury which when released into the environment through landfill are toxic.

fairy lights in the bin

How to dispose of fairy lights

If you are looking to dispose of your fairly lights or a way to get rid of them, there are plenty of options to choose from.

  • Recycling
  • Repurposing
  • Donating
  • Selling
  • Gifting

Take into consideration the current condition of your lights when deciding what to do with them next. If they are broken, why not try fixing them first. This could be as simple as replacing a bulb. If you are looking to pass your lights onto a new home; make sure they are in a good working and safe condition, ideally with the box and instructions where possible.

Recycling Christmas lights

If you have confirmed your lights no longer work, it may be time to bid them farewell. In this case you will want to recycle them. Electrical products must always be recycled. You can take them to your local recycling centre where there should be an employee able to direct you to the correct section for recycling. Or go online to find a WEEE recycling company. You can often post items to these electronics recycling companies, which may be more convenient. If your lights are the CFL type, you will need to take more care when looking to recycle them. You may need to check with the place you are looking to take them, to make sure they will be accepted.

You may decide to strip the lights and recycle the materials separately. They are many different variations of fairy lights. So take care when sorting out the different materials for recycling. Your local recycling centre should accept most of these materials.

recycling christmas lights

Repurposing Christmas Lights

If your Christmas lights aren't specifically Christmas related then why not use them all year round. You may be able to find a use for them somewhere in your home. Children love fancy lights in their room. They could be draped over the bed instead of a bed side lamp or night light. If your lights can be use outdoors; why not use them to create a cosy seating area in the garden for those warm summers evening. There are so many more options like this to get use out of your Christmas lights all year round.

Donating old Christmas Lights

For lights that are in good working condition, you could donate them to a charity or local organisation. Schools and nurseries may also welcome your donation.

gifting christmas lights

Selling old fairy lights

Whether it's old Christmas lights or fairy lights, they will always be someone out there looking to buy some. Giving your unwanted lights a new home is the best thing to do to avoid waste. You can sell them online using websites like Gumtree, Craigs list or Facebook Market Place.

Gifting Christmas Lights

Christmas is a tough financial time for some. You may know someone who can't afford to fork out for decorations. Offering them your old lights will allow them to join in with the decorative festivities, without the added cost.

Whatever you decide to do with your unwanted Christmas fairy lights make sure it's the most sustainable choose. Always opt to repurpose or rehome your lights before deposing via recycling them.

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