One of the most significant issues our planet faces today is waste. To help limit the pileup in landfills, we’re offering some valuable tips on how to get rid of your average light bulb after it burns out. Getting rid of a bulb may not be as apparent as you might think. There are many different kinds of bulbs, some can be thrown away, some can be recycled, and some need extra care.
Most cities today won’t accept these standard bulbs in their recycling centers since the filaments are often difficult to separate from the glass. The good thing is that these bulbs are filled with inert gas and made of non-toxic materials. Therefore, the trashcan is the way to go when it comes to disposing of standard incandescent lights. Place bulbs into their original packaging or even a plastic bag before tossing them, so if the glass breaks, it’s less likely to hurt anyone.
Of course, the most environmentally friendly way to deal with these old bulbs is to repurpose it. When intact, a standard-shaped bulb can serve as a great jumping off point for some cool art projects.
Here’s another one that’s safe to throw in the trash. Filaments located in a tube filled with non-toxic halogen gas light the Halogen bulbs. Similar to the incandescent, Halogen bulbs have fine wires that are difficult and expensive to separate out. Therefore, many recycling centers won’t accept them.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
Extra care is needed when disposing of these energy-saving bulbs. In some states, like California, it’s illegal to throw CFLs in the trash since they contain a small amount of toxic mercury. Before disposing of these bulbs, be sure to wrap them in bubble wrap or newspaper. The next steps may vary. Here are some ways to get rid of CFLs:
- Drop the bulbs off at a large retailer like Home Depot, Lowes, or IKEA. Many appliance stores offer CFL recycling services for bulbs purchased through them.
- Check in with your local garbage and recycling center. Some of those centers offer CFL disposal services. Waste Management has a compact fluorescent recycling kit available for purchase.
- Give your local municipality a call. Many cities and towns have unique CFL drop off locations.
- Refer to Earth911.com or RecycleABulb.com to find free ways to dispose of CFL bulbs safely.
You may have noticed these tubular bulbs overhead in office buildings, schools, hospitals, etc. Fluorescent lights are essentially large CFLs. Therefore, they too contain small amounts of mercury. Disposed of them the same way you would dispose of a CFL bulb. Refer to the information above.
LEDs consume very little power and can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years! That’s about 50 times longer than your average incandescent, 20-25 times longer than most halogens, and 8-10 times longer than CFLs, according to Bulbs.com. On the rare occasion that you do have to change out your LED, recycling is the way to go. Most LEDs made today contain reusable material that is easily separated. Double check the package that the bulb came in to confirm that they can be recycled.
There are many small adjustments you can make to your lifestyle that can have a substantial impact on environmental conservation. Check out our blog, 4 Easy Ways to Protect Our Environment, to discover more ways to make a difference.