Earlier this weekend we put up the outside Christmas lights. The weather was nice, and Tony recruited the boys to help him on the front side of the house. Before he started, he tested the lights in the family room and then asked the yearly question, "How come the lights were working when we took them down, but they don't work when it's time to use them again?"
Last January we carefully took the strands off the house, wound them around light holders, and put them in the closet under the basement stairs. They should have been out of harm's way there, but as always, one strand wouldn't light this year. Tony spent a bit of time trying to find the offending bulb(s), but in the end he decided it wasn't worth his time. I was on my way to Walgreens, so I bought him a strand to replace the one that wasn't any good.
What do you do with the strands that no longer light up? In the past I would guiltily throw them in the trash, but this year I remembered hearing about an opportunity to recycle them. A bit of research led me to the Website of stlouisgreen.com.
I found out that several Wal-Marts in our area were collecting old or unworkable holiday lights for recycling; one of the stores was only a couple of miles from the house. Today Tony and I took our discards and dropped them in the container in the garden center. I was glad to see that the large box meant to hold the discarded lights for recycling was about half full, and I'm wasn't the only one taking advantage of this recycling program.
I know Wal-Mart's motives aren't completely selfless; they're hoping that you buy new lights there. They were really pushing the LED ones. I know that LEDs last longer and use less energy, but I don't want to mix the two light types. I think I'll try to buy new strands for next year when they're on clearance after the holidays. I hope I'll still be able to recycle the old ones!