How to Recycle Light Bulbs: Creative & eco-friendly ways
Often, we end up having so many old light bulbs at home that don’t work anymore. However, it must be a challenge to find feasible solutions to recycle those old light bulbs.
We all know fluorescent light bulbs can be extremely harmful to the environment if we throw them away in landfills.
In this article, we’ll share a complete guide on recycling different types of light bulbs and the purpose of recycling. We’ll discuss all the traditional ways to recycle and some creative solutions that we can apply at home!
We can follow different techniques to recycle light bulbs. At home, we can be creative and reuse those bulbs to turn them into artwork. Also, we can go for recycling services where they use particular types of machines to extract all the elements for future reuse. For example, extracted mercury can be used in new light bulbs. However, few varieties, such as Incandescent light bulbs and Halogen incandescent light bulbs, can’t be recycled as efficiently as CFL lights.
Let’s check out different ideas to recycle different types of light bulbs in detail. First, we’ll see how we can reuse them at home in some creative way.
Creative DIY ideas to recycle old light bulbs
If your light bulbs stopped working, don’t hurry to throw them in the trash box. Yes, you can always consider those to send for recycling services, but if you love art and craft, you can give those light bulbs a new light with a little bit of work!
Light bulb terrarium
You must wonder to hear about the terrarium! A terrarium is a tiny air garden where you can put air plants that might need little maintenance. There are a variety of plants that you can put inside a terrarium. We’ll discuss that in a bit.
What do you need to make a terrarium?
- Incandescent light bulbs: you need a transparent bulb so that you can enjoy your beautiful artwork from outside.
- Use Protective glasses, gloves, and newspaper.
- A small aluminum cutter: It might be needed to cut the aluminum part of the bulb.
- One pair of tweezers: will be required to clean out the filament part of the bulb.
- One tablespoon of sand.
- A small amount of moss.
- Pebbles: you can find them in your garden or from an aquarium store.
How to make a terrarium?
1. If you clean the bulb yourself, you need to ensure enough protection as small glass pieces can be dangerous. Next, you can use an aluminum cutter to cut the aluminum part and then use tweezers to pull the filament out of the bulb.
2. Once you are done with the first part, you can put one or two tablespoons of sand.
3. Next, put the preserved moss with tweezers.
4. You can put some terrarium plants for the final step and decorate that tiny space with colorful pebbles.
Plants for Terrarium
We would suggest air plants that are tiny in size and look beautiful.
- Fuchsii v gracilis
- Bulbosa guatemala
- Caput Medusae
There are some online marketplaces from where you can buy these tiny air plants!
Twine Light Bulb Pears
These are always so beautiful to have on the dinner table, no matter what the festival is!
And most interestingly, these are so easy to make. You don’t need to have extraordinary artistic design skills! You just need light bulbs, glue, twine, a tiny twig, and you are ready to go!
What do you need to make twine Pears?
- Light bulbs: It can be Incandescent, halogen, or LED bulbs.
- Glue gun
- Small twigs
How to make twine pears?
You can start from the top and keep making circles with twine after applying glue. Gradually you can cover the whole bulb.
Once the first step is done, you can color them if you want. And finally, you can decorate them in a glass bowl.
Light Bulb Flower Vases
This project is kind of similar to our terrarium project. If you already know how to make a terrarium, this will be too easy for you! Let’s check out how we can create beautiful light bulb flower vases at home!
Materials to make light bulb vases
- Old light bulb: Incandescent light bulb would be appropriate in this case.
- Protective eyeglasses and gloves.
- A small aluminum cutter: It might be needed to cut the aluminum part of the bulb.
- Pair of tweezers: will be required to clean out the filament part of the bulb. Also helpful to clean the edges.
- Twine: we need it for hanging flower vases.
How to Make Light Bulb Flower Vases?
1. First, you need to break the black part of the bulb using an aluminum cutter and tweezers.
2. Next, you can pull out the filament and clean the edges of the broken part using tweezers.
3. Once you are done, make sure it has no more broken glass pieces. Next, you can tie its neck with twine, and thus you make a hanging bulb vase.
4. Now you can just pour water into it and put some beautiful flowers.
These were our top-picked creative ideas to recycle light bulbs in eco-friendly ways. There are many more ideas that you can try, such as creating oil lamps using old bulbs, coloring, and decorating bulbs to design your interior, etc. Although, we don’t recommend making oil lamps as they can pollute the indoor environment.
Now we’ll see traditional ways to recycle different types of old bulbs in an eco-friendly way one by one.
How to Recycle Incandescent Light Bulb
In this section, we’ll explain how to recycle incandescent light bulbs and related information.
Why should we recycle incandescent light?
Although incandescent light bulbs are not as harmful as CFL, it’s always great to reduce waste material and reuse them to make something new from it.
Can we recycle incandescent light bulbs?
We can recycle incandescent light bulbs in different ways.
1. At home, we can reuse them to create Christmas decorations, interior designs, flower vases, etc.
2. Also, we can send them to specific recycling services where they use a particular method to extract different materials from incandescent light bulbs. But the process is not cost-effective, so almost no recycling services accept incandescent light bulbs.
3. And, you can always throw them into the trash as they are not harmful to nature like CFLs.
How to prepare for recycling incandescent light bulbs?
If you are reusing those bulbs, make sure you have the proper protection while working with the bulbs.
If you are throwing them into regular trash, make sure to wrap them with newspaper. Otherwise, broken light bulbs can be risky to sanitation workers.
Where to recycle incandescent light bulbs?
1. terracycle.com accepts incandescent bulbs for recycling. However, recycling incandescent bulbs are never cost-effective as extracting filaments from the glass part requires a specific recycling method.
2. You can always reuse them at home for different DIY projects.
Although incandescent light bulbs are not as harmful to nature, we encourage everyone to reuse them at home for different DIY projects as the traditional recycling process is not as effective as other light bulbs.
How to Recycle LED Light Bulb
LED lights are good for the environment as they are 90% more energy-efficient than incandescent light bulbs. They are even more efficient than CFL bulbs. In a way, it saves your money and also it is eco-friendly.
Another good thing about LED light is these bulbs are long-lasting! However, their lifetime is not infinity, so there will be a time when you need to think of getting rid of those LED bulbs in eco-friendly ways.
In this section, we’ll see how we can recycle LED bulbs and discuss all related information.
Why should we recycle LED lights?
We can recycle almost 95% of a LED bulb. Just like any other glass and metal made things, we can recycle glass and metals from LED bulbs. Also, we can recycle elements like indium, gallium, and other rare earth elements. That’s why it is always advisable to recycle LED bulbs instead of throwing them into the landfill.
Can we recycle LED light bulbs?
We can reuse those bulbs at home to make creative things like twine pears, design the interior, etc. But we can’t recycle glass, metals at home. For that, we can always go for recycling services.
How to prepare for recycling LED light bulbs?
1. Sometimes, your recycling service may ask you to wrap each of the bulbs with newspaper just to avoid breaking light glasses.
2. Ask your recycler about all the requirements so that you can prepare things beforehand.
The recycling process for LED bulbs
You can use recycling services to recycle LED bulbs. At first, they use shredders to break apart bulb components. And then, they use separators to extract metals and glass parts.
LED bulbs contain circuit boards too. They use a smelter to recover metals from the circuit boards. A smelter uses heat or chemical extraction to get metals like gold, aluminum, copper, and nickel.
Where to recycle LED light bulbs?
1. You can go to Google Map and search this search term: light bulb recycling near me. Depending on your location, you can find some services that you can contact to know more details.
2. Many municipal safety departments offer to recycle LED bulbs. You can check them in your city.
3. Republicservices.com is a good option! They offer recycling and non-hazardous solid waste disposal.
4. orderbakpak.com they have a mail-back recycling Program, and they accept bulb recycling.
Although you have different recycling services as options, reusing them at home is always great practice.
How to Recycle CFL Light Bulbs?
Replacing incandescent lights with CFLs is an eco-friendly approach! If you replace a 60W traditional incandescent lamp with a 15W CFL, you can save up to 75% of the energy.
And sometimes, these CFLs might last for 5+ years. However, once their lifetime is over, we need to recycle them carefully.
Why should we recycle CFL lights?
1. Each CFL bulb may contain 4mg of mercury. It may not be a huge amount, but when we throw them away with the garbage, they go to a landfill, and thus so many CFLs will produce an excessive amount of mercury!
When an excessive amount of mercury seeps into groundwater, it may affect the quality of the water. Also, it is too risky if the landfill is near a river or lake. It can affect the ecosystem of the water area badly.
2. Although a broken CFL is not as harmful as it may seem, a small amount of mercury vapor with a short duration of exposure is not detrimental to us. Still, for safety, we always recommend sending CFL bulbs for recycling if they are not helpful anymore.
3. Landfills can pollute the soil of the area, especially when we throw away things like CFL bulbs with our garbage. One or two CFLs might not be harmful. But, just imagine in a city-landfill, thousands of people might do the same. Eventually, there will be so many CFLs, which might pollute the soil!
Can we recycle CFL?
Because of the design, it’s hard to reuse CFLs for art and craft. However, we can always think of coloring them to design the interior.
However, in this case, the best practice will be to send them for recycling services. They can recycle these bulbs with their mechanical process.
The recycling process for CFL bulbs
Usually, at the recycling service area, workers wear personal protective equipment to minimize exposure to harmful elements. They sort the bulbs with the mechanical process and run those bulbs through a machine called Tumbler. Using tumblers, they can extract all the different components like glass, metals, and elements like mercury. Once this process is done, they are stored for future reuse.
Where to recycle CFL bulbs
1. If you live in BC, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, or Washington State, productcare.org is a great option to opt for!
2. Google this search term: CFL recycling near me
3. You can find many local recycling services with this simple technique. You can always contact them to know more about their service.
4. Masssave.com is another excellent recycling service. They accept CFL bulbs. You can directly visit their website to see if their service is available in your area.
Recycling CFL bulbs is always appreciated, and it’s another step to make the world eco-friendly. We all can make an impact with these small steps.
We are so glad that you are already looking for how to recycle old light bulbs. Once we start to take these green living steps, we can inspire other people too. It can start from family, then friends and so on. The livelywatt team is so proud of you for taking these steps to live an eco-friendly life!