Recycle holiday lights at WUSTL​

Keep lights out of landfills, help feed hungry in St. Louis

Bring burned out or unwanted light strings to Washington University this holiday season and help keep thousands of pounds of waste from landfills. The Holiday Light Recycling Drive is returning to WUSTL — with collection bins on all four campuses.

The university’s Office of Sustainability and the Sustainability Action Team at the School of Medicine are partnering with St. Louis Green and Operation Food Search on the initiative, which runs through Jan. 13.

Last year, the regional collection drive raked in 64,000 lbs. of spent light strings — 4,310 lbs. of which came from WUSTL campuses.

The lights are processed by Metal Exchange, a local company that uses a special machine to crunch and separate the lights into their constituent materials: copper, glass and plastic. The materials are then recycled and sent back to manufacturers to be used in new products. The drive also helps feed
the hungry by donating a portion of proceeds to Operation
Food Search.

Donation boxes locations:

Danforth Campus

• Gregg House, Student Technology Services
• Danforth University Center, Event Services, Third Floor
• Alumni House
• Millbrook Facilities
• Bixby Hall, Sam Fox School
• Engineering Student Services, Lopata Hall, Third Floor

Medical Campus

• McDonnell Pediatric Research Building lobby
• 4444 Forest Park lobby
• 4480 Clayton lobby
• FLTC lobby
• McDonnell Sciences Building, Seashell Lobby
• Clayton Garage

North Campus

• Northern Bites Café

West Campus

• Entrances from garage to Floors 2 and 3

Going ‘green’ this holiday season

Will Fischer, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, says recycling old or spent lights is a great first step and offers the following tips to ‘green’ the holiday season:

Purchase holiday lights with light emitting diodes (LEDs) that use one-tenth the energy of traditional bulbs and last much longer.

Experiment with alternatives to traditional gift wrap, repurposing items such as paper shopping bags, newspapers or maps, or creatively using household items such as blankets or towels.

Consider giving ‘experiences’ in place of material items, like tickets to the symphony or restaurant gift cards.

If you do go shopping, look for items with minimal packaging and tote your reusable bags to reduce waste.

For more information, contact Will Fischer at or visit

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