Holiday lights are a hot item on people’s shopping lists this season. That also means old and broken lights are being thrown out as people upgrade.
However, making the extra effort to recycle lights can make all the difference.
Since late September, workers have been setting up one of the biggest displays in Gainesville at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Crowds will pack the lawn Friday evening for the annual pond-lighting event, and others will visit at night throughout the holiday season.
“It’s very nice at the beginning of the month, to kind of inaugurate the lights. It’s just a big ‘wow factor’ when you do it,” said the marketing coordinator, Anya Mayr.
There are about 80,000 lights each year, but the event is moving slowly toward more efficient LED lights, which have become more popular recently due to a drop in prices.
Experts say everyone should recycle their old lights when replacing them.
“Holiday lights contain plastic, copper and brass. So those are valuable materials that can be recycled into new gadgets,” said Eilanwy Slyboom, Alachua County waste alternative specialist.
Alachua County residents can recycle their lights into bins at various locations such as Leveda Brown Environmental Park. The lights get chipped into tiny pieces and a private contractor takes the remains to work on extracting different types of material. The plastic and metals can then be reused.
The local recycling program began three years ago, and since then, the lights have added up to more than 1,000 pounds. Social media and word-of-mouth has helped to keep the program growing.
“We just felt like it was very important to recycle holiday lights so we just took the initiative and started the program, and since then, we’ve kept it going,” Slyboom said.