Did you wear the correct protective eye gear while you watched the eclipse on Monday? Great! (If you didn’t heed the warnings, here’s how to tell if watching the eclipse damaged your eyes.)
Now that the great celestial marvel of the century has passed, though, don’t mindlessly toss your used eclipse glasses. There are actually some creative ways to get rid of them—without overloading the landfills with more plastic.
Thrifty viewers might be inclined to save them until the next solar eclipse in 2024, which will cross the eastern parts of Canada, central U.S., and Mexico. But make sure to check with the company to see if the glasses will last that long; some lenses might expire after three years.
Still, NASA says that as long as the glasses are compliant with the 2015 ISO 12312-2 safety standards, you should be able to reuse them forever. Just make sure you keep them in a safe spot, as scratches or abrasions can make them dangerous to use.
You can also donate your old glasses to a good cause. The organization Astronomers Without Borders and its corporate sponsors plan to collect used glasses for students in South America and parts of Asia, where the next solar eclipse will occur in 2019. Stay tuned for more information about the program and drop-off locations.
Check with your local schools before you toss the lenses, too. Some of them may be interested in using old eclipse glasses for astronomy activities or experiments, according to Patti Roth of Earth911.
If donating doesn’t pan out, the glasses’ paper or cardboard frames are recyclable. Camera stores and other specialty recyclers could accept the solar filters for recycling, too. Glasses with plastic frames, however, probably aren’t recyclable.
None of these options striking your interest? You can always use the lenses for an arts and crafts project, or simply keep them as a souvenir of the amazing celestial phenomenon.
By the way, the amount of money lost because of the solar eclipse will blow your mind—and it’s not just the couple of bucks you shelled out for those protective glasses.
[Source: Smithsonian Magazine]