Ah fairy lights. So pretty, and yet so fragile. Since college, they’ve been one of my favorite low-budget decorating hacks. And there are so many lovely spots for them in our apartment- wound around the spiral staircase, draped over bookcases, on our tree during the winter holiday season, and all over the outdoor patio. (Though we recently admitted defeat to the squirrels on that last front.) But along with being low-budget they also seem to be easily breakable. And non-repairable.

Rather than toss these defunct light strands in the trash, I would prefer to recycle them. And fortunately this is possible. Christmas Light Source, an online retailer, has started a recycling program in Texas. The copper, glass and plastic from the strands are recycled, and the proceeds benefit Toys for Tots.  Here is the link:


You need to pay for shipping, and I have found that it isn’t cheap. So packaging the lights in the smallest possible box is a good idea. This is one of those cases where recycling costs money rather than saving it. Shipping also eats up fossil fuels, so each of you will probably have a different viewpoint on whether it’s worth it to do this. I have been collecting my lights throughout the year with the intention of sending them in one giant batch. For those of you who determine you’d like to go the recycling route, follow the link above. Their procedure is clear and concise.

I should point out that moving forward I aim to reduce the amount of waste we’re producing with these lights. Generating three dead strands a year is three strands too many in my view.

So I’ve started limiting my purchases of these strands to the ones that seem to have good reviews for reliability, as well as replaceable bulbs and fuses. We have one strand like this that I found at Goodwill and it’s doing really well. I’m also exploring greener and more renewable methods of creating a warm and glowy ambience around the house. Producing less waste sometimes means letting go of a product I’ve been purchasing blindly for years. Often the substitute I come up with brings its own unique charm. And that may be part of the solution here.

So I will keep you posted on how things progress with Operation Sustainable Fairy Lights. In the meantime, recycle them I will!