6 Ways to Recycle Old Light Bulbs Into Something Fun

6 Ways to Recycle Old Light Bulbs Into Something Fun

recycle old light bulbs

When light bulbs burn out, what do you do with them? Most lights can be thrown straight into the trash, while CFLs can be recycled, but these are far from the only way to deal with old bulbs! Used light bulbs are just as likely to make your ecological footprint deeper as any other disposable item in your home. Adding them to the rest of our waste can contribute to pollution of our air, land and water, especially since the filament in a light bulb contains mercury.

Upcycling is finding new uses for items that can be recycled, and adapting them for those uses. Light bulbs can be upcycled in numerous ways that can be both decorative and fun activities for the whole family. Here are 6 suggestions for reusing your old light bulbs in new and creative ways!

Oil Lamp

Old light bulbs can still light up the room by filling them with oil and adding wicks. Stylish oil lamps like these look chic while allowing you to both upcycle and flex your creative muscles with your old light bulbs. Since light bulbs come in a variety of shapes that can accommodate either oil or candles, there are a lot of options that can exhibit your inner artist!


A little dirt or sand and some small flowers or sprigs can make an earthy decoration that celebrates the planet. There are different approaches you can take, too—the beach-minded can add some sand and seashells, while lake fans might add some silt and marsh grasses. Even adding a little water and creating a miniature biodome can be accomplished. Celebrate places you’ve visited with a little eco-memory, if you can do so without harming nature!


Celebrate your holidays using old light bulbs to make custom ornaments for trees, wreaths, and even themselves. Painting the outside in festive decorations is one way to go, especially since light bulbs are a great shape for Halloween pumpkins and winter snowman bodies. You can also fill them from inside with colorful sand, glitter or paint and garnish with ribbons for a different look. Bundles of colored bulbs can be arranged in a wreath or other shapes for festive fun!

recycle old light bulbs

Hot Air Balloons

Light bulbs are the perfect shape for hot air balloon decorations, and there are tons of ideas out there for crafts to accomplish this. Remember to secure the bulbs with material to prevent injury in case the bulb is broken, but otherwise you can use light bulbs to create artistic balloon scenes in different colors and settings. This can be a fun one for the kids to make, while teaching them how to upcycle from a young age!

Spices and Seasonings

Since many jars of spices, seasonings, and other kitchen powders and liquids are the same shape as a light bulb, it isn’t a far leap to turn it around and use cleaned-out old light bulbs for your spice rack. In fact, the kitchen provides a lot of opportunities to reuse those old bulbs – they can be turned into cute salt and pepper shakers or chic oil and vinegar decanters, too.

DIY Decor

Light bulbs come in so many sizes and shapes that their potential for do it yourself crafts and projects is limitless. Whether you paint the outsides or use the glass to show off something within, any craft can turn your old lightbulbs into snow globes, art deco, or even vases for flowers. Mount them on a piece of wood for a piece of unique rustic decor, or go industrial and fill them with concrete to create doorknobs or wall hooks. Whatever your artistic vision, you can use your old light bulbs to make it a reality!

Used light bulbs are versatile and can compliment any craft, or even be the center of your design. The ideas above and more can give you and your family fun activities for those rainy days and a way to minimize your ecological footprint. So don’t throw away those used light bulbs. Turn them instead into something fun!