Shining New Light on the Holidays

Take a look around your neighborhood this holiday season and you may notice something different. It’s a subtle change, but a significant one nonetheless.

You’ve probably noticed this change at your local retailer, too.

What change, you ask?

This year, more people and businesses than ever are using light-emitting diode (LED) holiday lights to celebrate the season. It is a trend that has been growing for years, particularly as LED technology continues to improves and costs come down.

LED lights offer significant environmental advantages as compared to traditional incandescent lights. For instance, LEDs run much cooler, reducing fire risk; LEDs last longer and use less energy, saving you money on your electric bill.

But with the growth of LED lighting comes the inevitable question: what becomes of the old lights?

In Minnesota, the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) hosts a statewide project called “Recycle Your Holidays.” It allows Minnesota residents to drop off their unwanted holiday lights at more than 400 locations. Businesses also can sign up to become a collection site, receiving a free bin and free pickup whenever the bin is full.

The program is in its third year with a lofty goal for 2011: to recycle 200,000 pounds of lights and sign up at least 400 more businesses to be collection sites.

What’s surprising is that it’s the only statewide light recycling program in the country.

There are communities and organizations across the country that offer light recycling. Like this one, and this one. Or visit for recycling options in your area.

There also are a number of retailers that offer recycling programs – some may even offer discounts on LED lighting packages. But you’d better hurry – only a few more weeks until Christmas!

So tell us, have you made the switch to LED holiday lights?

Article by Erin Mathe, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.

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