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light bulb recycling crafts

Have you ever thought about getting creative with an old light bulb? There are so many eco-friendly ways to reuse light bulbs that no longer serve their primary purpose.

Earlier this month, the world celebrated Earth Day. Earth Day takes place on April 22nd every year and this year was its 50th anniversary.


Earth Day wants us to get involved in taking better care of our planet: saving energy, recycling, cleaning up our environment and combating climate change by stopping pollution and reducing our global footprint. It’s a fantastic event and, believe it or not, we had one or two Earth Day celebrations planned for our new shop (including a bargain deal for our lovely customers) before the lockdown happened and changed everything. Oh well, maybe next year! But the big message about Earth Day is — every day should be Earth Day. If we make small, simple adjustments to our daily lives (like replacing energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs with energy-and-money-saving LEDs) we can all do our bit to create a cleaner, greener future for ourselves, our children, and our planet.

And that gave us a bright idea for today’s blog! Most of us have got some old burned-out light bulbs cluttering up our kitchen drawers or gathering dust in the garden shed, so why not do something creative and planet-friendly during the lockdown and upcycle those dead bulbs into fantastic objects and decorations you can use around the home? Not only is it a great way to recycle, it’s a rewarding way to kill a few hours during a dreary lockdown afternoon. If you’re a parent, it’s also a fun activity you can do with your children while teaching them about recycling at the same time!

Here are a few of our favourite light bulb recycling suggestions…


As far as most of us are concerned, Christmas can’t come soon enough! Why not start celebrating early by transforming your old light bulbs into ornaments you can hang from the tree? You can paint the outside of the bulb in festive colours and use a small paint brush to apply some glue in the shape of snowflakes or stars before carefully sprinkling on some glitter. Alternatively, you could fill the inside of the bulb with glitter or coloured sand and then wind a ribbon around the bulb cap for a finishing touch.

But why limit yourself to Christmas? Why not create a Halloween mantelpiece ornament by painting on some ghosts and monsters and then filling the bulb with some creepy looking liquid or gel? Or how about painting the bulbs for a special occasion, like a birthday, and filling them with multi-coloured sparkles or paperclips? If you’ve got any small polystyrene packing chips lying around the house you could break them up, paint them in different colours, and sprinkle them into the bulb too.


Okay, so you’re not going to fit many flowers inside a light bulb and the flowers you choose will have to be pretty small (maybe a single rose, if you’re feeling really romantic) but upcycling your bulbs into mini table vases can make eye-catching dinner party decorations, or you could even assemble a bunch of them into a conversation-starting dining table centrepiece! You could get artistic and paint some patterns on the outside of the bulbs, or plan ahead to your first post-lockdown party and personalise each bulb with the name of a guest you’re going to invite.


Even when a bulb’s broken, it can still light up a room! Carefully remove the inner parts of the bulb, then wash the bulb and dry it. Find something small and round (probably the size of a napkin ring) to support the bulb so it can stand upright without falling over. Even better, carve a hole into a small block of wood and sit the bulb inside it, gluing it into place. Glue a washer on the top opening of the bulb and thread a cotton string (about 5 inches long) through the washer to create a wick. Finally, inject a very small amount of oil or alcohol into the bulb and then light the thread. Congratulations, you’ve just made a light bulb candle! Don’t leave it burning unsupervised, though!


Remove the cap and the insides of the light bulb and then add a little dirt or sand and some small flowers or tiny shells. If your children have got any plastic figures small enough to put in the bulb, add them too. A dinosaur figure would be fantastic, especially if you can place it so it’s peeking out from behind the shrubbery. Voila! Your own teeny-tiny Jurassic Park!

Alternatively, you could add a little water and create your own miniature eco-dome; or how about designing a microscopic beach scene with some sand and pebbles? You could even paint a tiny beach hut on the back of the bulb to give it a 3D effect!


Remember those summer fete contests when they fill a jar with jellybeans, and you’ve got to guess its weight or how many jellybeans it contains? Why not fill a bulb with some small candies or coloured paper clips, post a photo of it on social media, and ask your friends to guess how many contents are inside? Or make it a party game next time you’re Skyping, Zooming, or Google Hangouting with your family?


Another easy one, but unusual and practical! Take the cap off the bulb, carefully remove the inner parts, and then thoroughly wash and dry the bulb so it’s safe to put salt, pepper, or sugar inside. Then, pierce holes into the cap so you can use the bulbs as shakers.

Recycled light bulbs also make really useful storage containers for the kitchen. You could fill them with spices and seasonings (they make a terrific light bulb spice rack) or as oil and vinegar decanters.

Now it’s your turn! Let your imagination run wild and see what genius ideas you can come up with! When our shop’s reopened, maybe you could bring them in to show us!

And do you want to know the best news of all?

When this lockdown’s finally over you’ll be able to recycle all your old incandescent bulbs and come to Oliver Lamps for your fabulous new LED replacements. You’ll be saving energy, saving money, and helping to save the planet! That’s definitely worth looking forward to!

Stay safe and stay indoors, everybody. See you again soon!

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