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Questions from the Green Gifts Fair

29 November 2007

I had a table at the November 17th Green and Fair Trade Gifts Fair at Macalester College about LED (light emitting diode) holiday lights. It was a great event with a record turn-out – and lots of interest in the lights! It was wonderful to talk to so many people interested in increasing their energy efficiency during the season of excess, and there were a few questions that popped up with regularity. If you have any further questions on LED holiday lights that I haven’t answered, please comment below and I will get back to you.

What do I do with my old incandescent light strands?
I called a few organizations, including Hennepin County’s hazardous waste centers to see if it was possible to recycle the old light strands. Unfortunately, the consensus was that they cannot be recycled. The best option seems to be to take still working strands and donate them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army to be reused. If anyone knows a local artist who might be interested in incorporating old incandescent lights into their work, let me know and maybe we can pool together old lights to donate!

Is it better to keep using the old lights rather than creating more waste?
No – throw away those old lights and get LEDs. The longer you use incandescents, the more energy you are needlessly wasting. Also, the more people purchasing LED holiday lights, the more that retailers will favor the energy efficient option. You can help influence stores to offer more smart options and start phasing out the incandescents. It’s a great way to green your holiday and make a difference at the same time.

Where can I find LED holiday lights?
The ones I had at the fair were from Target, but you can also find them at Walmart, Ace, Menards, Home Depot – they’re everywhere. Just make sure they’re marked as LED lights.

What else can I do to make a difference this holiday season?
Take the Minnesota Energy Challenge. The Challenge is a state-wide program run by a local non-profit to help Minnesotans learn how to save money and energy in their home and discover the real measurable impact of their actions. It’s easy, practical and makes a real difference in Minnesota. Take five minutes and join over 7,800 Minnesotans pledging to take action today!

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