Recycle those #%*&! lights

Drop-off locations accepting non-working holiday strands

COVINGTON, Ky. – It’s one of the enduring and aggravating mysteries of the holiday season: When you put away your decorative lights last year, they lit up just fine.

But when you get them out this year, they’re dead. Or, even more frustrating, only half the strand lights up – no matter how many of those little fuses you replace. And on top of that, the lights wound themselves into a tangled mess (by themselves, for sure).

Rather than sending those lights to a landfill (or smashing every bulb with a hammer and stomping on the wires and cursing them and burying the mess, which is what many of us are tempted to do), we have a better idea:

Recycle them.

Thanks to a partnership among the City of Covington, Cohen Recycling, and Keep Covington Beautiful, you can now get rid of your non-working holiday lights in a way that helps protect the environment, saves landfill space, and assuages your guilty conscience about participating in this throwaway society.

“One thing that can help ease the frustration of having to buy new lights is knowing that you’re disposing of the old ones responsibly,” said Sheila Fields, Covington’s Solid Waste & Recycling manager. “And we have four locations spread throughout the city where you can do so.”

Beginning Friday, Dec. 1, and lasting until Feb. 1, 2024, you can drop off non-working holiday lights (loose, i.e. not bagged) at these locations:

  • The lobby at City Hall, 20 West Pike St. (open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday).
  • Covington Fire Department’s Station 5 at 1255 Hands Pike (the bin is outside and available 24/7).
  • The lobby at The Center for Great Neighborhoods, 321 M.L. King Jr. Blvd./W. 12th St. (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Thursday; and 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday).
  • The lobby at Covington Public Works, 1730 Russell St. (open 7 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday–Friday).

You can also visit Cohen lights to find other recycling locations.

Last year, residents dropped off 507 pounds of light strands in Covington. In the broader Kenton County area, 1,819 pounds was collected. Across the Licking River in Campbell County, 760 pounds were collected, and out in Boone County, 414 pounds of lights were collected. That’s a total of 3,500 pounds of lights.

The program saved landfill space, kept metals out of the earth, and earned local governments a nominal fee, Fields said.

“It’s important to divert items like holiday lights from the landfill because of the limited landfill space,” Fields said. “This goes for any non-holiday item such as aluminum cans, glass bottles, and cardboard as well as food waste and yard waste.”

What can be dropped off

All kinds of string lights are accepted during this event (even those strands of pink flamingos), including traditional and LED-style bulbs. Other electric holiday yard decorations, such as a projector or the motor on an inflatable character, may be recycled at a Cohen Recycling Center.

See the page linked for a location and call ahead for more information on recycling these items.

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