When it comes to the environment, we all have a responsibility to do our part. That’s why the small things matter and can make a big difference when they are strung together. Light bulbs are something most of us use on a regular basis without thinking twice about their lifecycle or impact on the environment. Fortunately, recycling light bulbs these days isn’t as tricky as it once was, thanks to a rise in awareness and new programs popping up throughout communities. If you have some old lightbulbs you’d like to dispose of responsibly, here are 7 ways to recycle light bulbs at home:
Keep in mind: There’s no easy way to recycle all light bulbs.
The easiest way to recycle light bulbs is to simply replace them with efficient LED bulbs. However, there are many different types of light bulbs, and some types will not be able to be recycled in the same way that others can. Incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and fluorescent bulbs will all have different directions once they’ve reached their end-of-life. While it’s always a good idea to recycle your used light bulbs, it is important to know what type you have in order to recycle it properly.
Check your local recycling center or business.
If you’re lucky enough to live near one of these recycling hubs, you’ll be able to drop off old light bulbs for free. Many hardware stores and other local businesses that sell light bulbs will also accept them from customers once they’ve reached the end of their lifecycles. You can also find out if your city or county has a program in place to accept old light bulbs for free. If you have a friend or family member who works for the local government, you might even be able to get a few extra bulbs dropped off for free!
Mail in your old bulbs.
If you’re not able to drop your old light bulbs off at a recycling center near you, you can mail them in to a variety of different organizations. Popular companies like Energy Saving Trust and Philips Lighting accept old light bulbs through their recycling programs and will find a way to dispose of them in a responsible way. Some of these organizations might charge a small fee for the service, but it’s likely worth it when you weigh how much it might cost to drive your old bulbs to a location.
Smash and recycle your old light bulbs.
If you have a few old light bulbs that are broken but still contain mercury inside of them, you’ll want to smash them with a hammer before disposing of them. This will prevent mercury from leaking out of the bulbs and contaminating your home. Once you’ve smashed the bulbs, put them in a plastic bag and take them to your local recycling center. They will be able to dispose of the bulbs safely and properly.
Donate your old light bulbs.
If you have old light bulbs that still work or are in good condition, you may be able to donate them to Habitat for Humanity or another local charity. While donating your old light bulbs won’t get rid of the mercury inside of them, it will allow someone who needs them to have access to them.
Throw out the remainder of your broken light bulbs.
If you’re not able to drop your old bulbs off at a recycling center or donate them to a local charity, you can simply throw out the rest of the bulbs once you’ve smashed the mercury out of them. However, make sure you do this in a way that prevents the rest of your trash from catching on fire. If you’re not sure how to handle broken light bulbs, it’s best to avoid throwing them into your regular trash. The bottom of your trash can may not be hot enough to fully evaporate the mercury inside of the bulbs, which means you could contaminate the soil and groundwater with it. Instead, put your broken light bulbs in a sealed bag and throw them in your household hazardous waste bin.
When it comes to recycling, most household items can be recycled, reused or composted. However, one product that often gets overlooked is the humble light bulb. Light bulbs are something you likely use on a regular basis, but you may not have thought about the lifecycle of these bulbs or the impact they have on the environment. Fortunately, recycling light bulbs these days isn’t as tricky as it once was, thanks to a rise in awareness and new programs popping up throughout communities. If you have some old light bulbs you’d like to dispose of responsibly, there are plenty of ways to recycle light bulbs at home.