If you live on your own, chances are you've asked yourself how to dispose of lightbulbs properly. After all, while they're made of recyclable bits like glass and metal, some don't necessarily belong in the recycle bin!
For those of us still scratching our heads in concern, here's a quick guide on where, when, and how to dispose of lightbulbs the right way.
How Do You Properly Dispose of Lightbulbs?
If you've ever yelped in surprise at the sound of a lightbulb popping, we feel for you. While scary, it is a common occurrence with both incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.
Proper disposal depends on the type of light bulb. Some light bulbs are fine to throw out with your regular trash. However, some light bulbs should be thrown away with similar bulbs.
Some big-box retailers such as Lowes, Home Depot, and even Ikea have proper light bulb disposing centers.
When Is It Time to Throw Lightbulbs Out?
There are a few ways of knowing for sure it's time to say goodbye to your lightbulb. The most obvious is when you flick on the switch only to realize it's still dark! Turn off the lights, remove the bulb, and shake it a bit. If you hear the bulb's filament clinking inside, it's time for a replacement bulb.
But there may be other reasons too. A flickering lightbulb, for example, may equal a faulty bulb. A bad connection, worn-our receptacles, and bad filaments could all equal a very annoying flickering bulb. While it may not be completely non-functional, your sanity will surely thank you for replacing it.
How to Dispose of Lightbulbs by Type
How to dispose of lightbulbs properly really depends on the type of bulb. Here's a break down each bulb type, how they differ from other lightbulbs, and how to safely dispose of them.
An incandescent lightbulb is the most easily recognizable lightbulb of our list. These are teardrop-shaped glass bulbs with a metal base: you know, the kind Thomas Edison invented! These bulbs consist of a glass bulb, an inner filament, and a metal socket.
Believe it or not, these lightbulbs made with exactly zero hazardous materials. Thus, it is perfectly acceptable to dispose of these in your average garbage can. But if you're worried about glass shards, wrap them in a plastic bag before tossing.
CFL and fluorescent lightbulbs
Fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs (or CFLs, for short) usually come in a long tube, often used in factories, garages, and other workspaces. However, they also come in spiral shape with several different kinds of bases.
These bulbs take a while to warm up before emitting their soft glow. Inside, they house a small bit of mercury, which makes disposal tricky. Although it's a tiny percentage of mercury, it could be toxic to the environment if the glass breaks.
If you accidentally break a fluorescent bulb, leave the area for about 15 minutes. Then, once all the dust clears, clean up the debris. For worrywarts like me, wear a dusk mask and wash your dustpan and broom after use.
The best way to dispose of CFLs and fluorescent bulbs is by bringing them to a recycling center such as your local Home Depot.
LED bulbs are arguably the most energy-efficient of the bunch (thus far). They last a long time, release very little heat, and don't use much energy. However, because they emit light in a particular direction, they are not the best choices for large spaces (dining rooms, kitchens, etc.).
When asking yourself how to dispose of lightbulbs that are LEDs, ask yourself: does it contain hazardous material? Thankfully, the answer is no. Thus, it's safe to throw them in the trash with the rest of your garbage.
Halogens are excellent bulbs for indoors because of their wide footprint. Instead of focusing the light in one direction (like LEDs), halogens flood the space with brightness all around.
Thankfully, halogens are just as non-toxic as LED lightbulbs, making them garbage can-safe. However, if you've collected a few over the years, consider taking them to a recycling hub in Ikea or Lowes.
Throwing out Lightbulbs: Do It Right!
When it comes to tossing your lightbulbs, it's important to know what you're dealing with. If you're worried about tossing the lightbulbs the wrong way, go into your local hardware store and ask. Not only will you educate yourself, but chaned are they can also recycle them for you!
What's your preferred lighting choice when it comes to lightbulbs? And what do you usually do to dispose of them? Let us know in the comments below!