Fact or Fiction: Recycled Lighting Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

It's important to recycle, and most people seem to be getting more savvy about what's good to go in the green bins and what's not. Think you know all the facts about recycled lighting? Let's start the quiz and find out.

You can't recycle old bulbs, so you might as well just throw them out in your normal trash.

You can recycle old bulbs, though different areas have different policies in place to deal with them -- check the rules for your city or region before recycling. It's dangerous to put broken bulbs in the trash, not just because of the sharp shards but because of the possibility of mercury being released.


You can throw old bulbs into your regulation glass/plastic recycling bin.

Not only is it easy to make a dangerous mess in your bin, but many bulbs, especially old or mercury-filled bulbs, are dangerous to throw out or risk breakage in a regular recycling bin. Contact your local waste management facility to find out your area's practices for dealing with old bulbs.


Recycling is not always free nor is the service always frequent or regular.

In some areas, the local recycling centers only operate once or twice a year, so it will be necessary for you to save up your bulbs until a biannual pick-up. Also, there may be a fee, though this is becoming more rare nationally.


A glass lamp base or shade should be recycled by color, like other glass recyclables.

The way glass is recycled has a great deal to do with its color. Beer is usually stored in amber glass, while other liquids can be stored in clear containers. Depending on your local service, you may have to sort the glass by color yourself or depend on the recycling plant to do it.


If you hate the color or style of an old lamp, it's better just to store it.

If the lamp has sentimental value, then certainly you should keep it. But that doesn't mean it has to take up space in your attic. Try experimenting with a new shade or even spray-painting it a new color. You can also turn the bases into vases or glass shades into planters.


If your lamp's wiring is shot, it's best to get rid of it.

Not only are there creative uses for a nonworking lamp, but it's fairly simple to rewire an old lamp.


While it's best to try to recycle bulbs, it's actually required in some places.

The following states have the strictest laws dictating the recycling of light bulbs: California, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts. The laws vary from state to state, so check your own local area. For more information, the EPA explains which bulbs are the most dangerous and what consumers should do about their own old bulbs


A ceramic lamp base can be recycled along with glass or plastic.

Ceramic is surprisingly hard to recycle, due to the way it has to be fired and then glazed. The best way to recycle a ceramic base is to repurpose it, either whole (used as a book-end or vase, for example) or in pieces (for a mosaic project).


Old bulbs are considered to be "hazardous waste" by the EPA.

The EPA considers most bulbs and lamps hazardous due to their chemical composition. There is a test, the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), which can be performed to determine how dangerous lamps/bulbs are.


Along with charities like Goodwill, technical schools and even local theater groups are often willing to take old lamps as donations, usually tax deductible.

Local theater groups, including high school drama departments, are often dependent on community donations for their props department. Old lamps can be cherished by thespians and enjoyed by audiences for years to come, enjoying a second life on stage. Also, technical schools can use old lamps for students to practice rewiring. Check your local business listings to see what's in your area.


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